Exciting new development in PTSD treatment from Scripps! Healing touch, guided imagery eased symptoms, improved quality of life…



“Healing touch is described as an energy-based treatment meant to restore and balance the human bio-field in order to decrease pain and promote healing. It is sometimes used in surgery or other medical procedures to help patients relax and reduce pain and anxiety. Guided imagery uses imagination and visualization to help reduce stress and anxiety and enhance overall well-being.”

The Trauma Tool Kit: Healing PTSD From the Inside Out

I have been working many years to bring these techniques to those suffering from trauma and extreme stress. Now I have put them all in my new book: THE TRAUMA TOOL KIT: HEALING PTSD FROM THE INSIDE OUT, available online and in bookstores. Blessings to all those who are healing!

In addition to the healing value of my book and blog in creating awareness, I try to stay on top of the latest developments in alternative treatments, especially complementary approaches and research that do not rely 100% on short term use of narcotics and anti-depressant medications.”Healing Touch” is such a new treatment that is showing promising results in recent studies as described in the above links.  Please take the time to do your own reading and research on this subject and let me know your thoughts, especially direct experience.  I want to share more information on “Healing Touch” therapy from my followers and readers.  This is very good news to report!

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Speechless in Sedona… Chapel of the Holy Cross…


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, AZ

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Roman Catholic chapel built into the mesas of Sedona, Arizona, which was inspired and commissioned by sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude. Richard Hein was chosen as project architect, and the design was executed by architect August K. Strotz, both from the firm of Anshen & Allen. The chapel is built on Coconino National Forest land; the late Senator Barry Goldwater assisted Staude in obtaining a special-use permit. The construction supervisor was Fred Courkos, who built the chapel in 18 months at a cost of US$300,000. The chapel was completed in 1956.[1]
The American Institute of Architects gave the Chapel its Award of Honor in 1957. In the sculptor’s words, “Though Catholic in faith, as a work of art the Chapel has a universal appeal. Its doors will ever be open to one and all, regardless of creed, that God may come to life in the souls of all men and be a living reality.”
In 2007, Arizonans voted the Chapel to be one of the Seven Man-Made Wonders of Arizona,[2] and it is also the site of one of the so-called Sedona vortices.[citation needed]
The Chapel is one of the main tourist attractions in the Sedona area. It is open from 9am to 5pm daily and closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, Good Friday and Easter.

Inside the Chapel
Judy slipped away while we were in the church and lit candles for our family members no longer with us and all the others we keep close to our hearts.   We were speechless exploring the grounds and the stunning views, very much like HD and 3D, allowing you to completely escape the reality of worldly thoughts.   All of it draws you into a spiritual state of mind.  We sat peacfully in prayer for a long time in the Chapel. 
Judy walking up to the Chapel

Judy at Tlaquepaque Villagehttp://www.tlaq.com/

View up from Chapel of the Holy Cross

View from Chapel of the Holy Cross

Road to Chapel of the Holy Cross
Chapel of the Holy Cross, photo taken by Judy
We are looking forward to the drive down Scenic 89A to Surprise, Arizona http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arizona_State_Route_89A to spend the day with dear friends Dennis & Judi Simpson.  So far, we “60 somethings” seem to be hanging in for the long journey that’s just a tad over two weeks now.  We’ll spend about a week in the Phoenix area exploring and visiting with friends and family.  A reunion is planned on October 2nd with Sparks family cousins I have not seen in over 50 years.  Frank Devine Jr. & Robin Coenen are 1st cousins I remember as a young boy during our family visits to Minnesota.  This will be a very special reunion and a non-stop talking gathering, including meeting the next generation of cousins.
Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Children of parents who struggle with the effects of long deployments are at risk of bullying or being bullied!

http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/bullies/articles-on-bullying-bullies/  Quote from this site…

What Causes a Child to Become a Bully?

“Although certainly not all bullying stems from family problems, it’s a good idea to examine the behavior and personal interactions your child witnesses at home. If your child lives with taunting or name-calling from a sibling or from you or another parent, it could be prompting aggressive or hurtful behavior outside the home. What may seem like innocent teasing at home may actually model bullying behaviors. Children who are on the receiving end of it learn that bullying can translate into control over children they perceive as weak.”

I am so often reminded of my military family childhood with the constant news regarding bullying in schools.  The risk is higher for military families because they move around frequently and/or parents are deployed for extended periods, including being challenged with moral injury and PTSD.  I was the kid at the receiving end of bullies.  My brothers were inclined to be bullies themselves to vent their anger from living in a toxic home culture.  My brothers came to my rescue for the most part, but they loved to fight with other kids anyway.  We were all outcasts…  We changed schools often, and were never able to bond with friends for any extended period of time.   My parents never trusted anyone so our friendships were at the surface for the most part.  We didn’t invite other kids over to our home because of the risk of being embarrassed by unpredictable behaviors.  As parents, we now have much more awareness and information.  Kids can’t as easily get away with bullying.  But military families need to be proactive with kids in school and listen to them.  Get involved to help stop bullying.  Go to the Healthy Place website above and learn more about bullying.  Don’t let your kids struggle with this problem without support from home, and appropriate intervention where and when needed.

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

My heart aches for the surviving children who lose parents in war…


http://www.taps.org/ Quote from this website…

“Children often go through a feeling of no longer belonging in the aftermath of the death of a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle or loved one. Other children at school and your community may not have ever experienced a loss of this manner, leaving a child to feel alone; as if they are the only ones who have experienced such a loss. When they can connect with other children with shared experiences, they feel comfort in knowing they are not alone and relief in sharing with others who truly know what they are going through as they have been there themselves.”

Losing a loved one to war is emotionally overwhelming to all family members and friends.  The children themselves need special attention because they are often too young to understand completely what is going on and the implications in terms of their own responsibility to the surviving parent.  Kids try to be strong, and tend to blame themselves for sadness demonstrated by those who are grieving for a loss of a loved one.  The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)http://www.taps.org/ can help families focus on helping children of surviving parents.  Even when your loved one comes home to life after war they are often damaged emotionally, and do not behave the same as the person they were before the war.  Children can suffer the same confusion and often be the brunt of toxic behavior resulting from the symptoms of PTSD, especially the expression of anger, and emotional numbness.  As a post WWII child, we needed help in our home, but it never came.  We had to experiment with a “hide and sneak” approach to distance ourselves as a coping mechanism.  We tried to stay out of the way, and ended up with similar angry behaviors over time because of the lack of interest and caring demonstrated by our parents.  Parents are often overwhelmed with their own needs during a tragic period, and children are ignored.  Outside support groups did not exist following WWII, so we were left on our own in a very toxic circumstance of survival.  Non-profits like TAPS and others can really help families readjusting to life after war, whether it is the consequence of losing a parent or addressing the challenges of readjustment to civilian life with loved ones, especially children. 
Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Bryce Canyon National Park…Soul Feeding Extravaganza!

Bryce Canyon, “Natural Bridge”
Bottom Bryce Canyon, Queen’s Garden Trail
Amazing view of Bryce Canyon!



Initially we did not include Bryce Canyon National Park in our travel schedule. But once we got up to this bonanza of national parks, it was clear that a short detour to Bryce Canyon was a must to include. And we were not disappointed!! This display of mother nature was equally magnificent and amazing as our experience at Zion National Park. A perfect place to visit for living in the moment. Judy said, “I felt awestruck by the uniqueness of the geology, and it was like being somehwere new in the universe…very spiritual…”

To begin with, go to the link above for “Scenic Byway 89.” This road is just a warm up for Bryce Canyon that leads you to the “Hoodoos.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoodoo_(geology).
We were blown away by the geology of the entire area, especially Hoodoo formations that came from millions of years of sediment build up in huge fresh water lakes, and later once the water was gone, the hoodoo formations were exposed. Wind and water erosion continues and changes the formations over time.

The second YouTube video clip is a great reference providing a real life account of a hike on the Queen’s Garden Trail near Sunset Point inside Bryce Canyon National Park. We found this hike to be challenging and a photo shot dream. We couldn’t stop taking pictures!

Judy and I arrived in Page, Arizona last night, and went right over to a lively western theme restaurant to get a bite to eat, and listen to some great music. We both are well settled into our new adventure, and start each day very excited about what is next. There are so many surprises on this trip that make it even more adventurous than we thought. Best approach so far has been to be flexible to make changes in plans and have enough time not to be in a big rush to preplanned destinations. Next stop today is Flagstaff, Arizona en route to Sedona and the Phoenix area. We will turn our sights to the east to New Mexico, and Texas, with thoughts of exploring the Gulf Coast in a few weeks.

We appreciate your thoughts for our continued safe travels. More to come………..

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Steve, Taking it all in…

Zion National Park – Day 2…”Equally Amazing, Equally Stunning”

“Lucy the Lizard” was our trail guide…


Steve soaking feet end of hike & Judy at the top on the Loop Trail


Steve, sitting on the ledge on the Watchman Trail plateau…

It was another spectacular day exploring Zion National Park!  We feel so much gratitude to be on what Judy refers to as our “journey of freedom and healing.”  Sitting on the cliff ledge in the above photo was proof enough to me that we humans are part of a spiritual universe, making a difference during the short time we have on this earth.  I would have loved taking flight just like a bird, but reality reminded me instantly that the one thing we humans do not have are wings.  While Judy explored the plateau high above Watchman Trail, I enjoyed the balmy breeze sitting on top of the world in a vortex of nature and spiritual energy…  This was the kind of sensory experience that can be found only in places unique in the world.  The peace of mind and sense of well being is wonderful and a true gift from God…  We are blessed to be sure as “60 somethings” on a once in a life time adventure rediscovering our love for each other and nature at its heavenly best…

The websites above will take you to an abundance of information and photos of one of America’s natural treasures.  I love the second YouTube video clip of a young boy showing his excitement about the highlights of Watchman Trail.  It reminds me of my charity work with www.neighborsforkids.org where we observe young people doing amazing things all the time.  We make kids feel special with a little extra love and mentoring after regular school hours. 

Next stop along our journey is Bryce Canyon National Park a little further east crossing over scenic Mt. Carmel via hwy 9 and 89 en route to Flagstaff, Arizona.  Please stay with us in cyberspace while we explore even more stunning and amazing treasures of mother nature…

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

My oldest brother did not get to know his dad until he was 4 years old following World War II…


Most likely my blog posting reference is a website news item or a video that connects with my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  My book can be easily ordered from this site…

The above video shows the homecoming of a soldier meeting his newborn child for the first time.  My Dad, Vernon, saw his first son, Jerry, months after he was born following the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor.  The visit was brief, then he was off again to war in the Asiatic Pacific Theater aboard the USS Belle Grove.  Dad and new son Jerry reconnected at the end of WWII during the summer of 1945.  My brother, as written in my book, had a challenging relationship with Dad his entire life.  When kids spend so much time with a single parent during a long absence of the other parent in case of war, the returning parent has an uphill battle to bond with a 4-year old child who doesn’t know the strange person who suddenly shows up, whom Mom introduces, “this is your Daddy!”  It is a shock and a threat at the same time, since the child has had one parent all this time.  Consequently, it was never a pretty picture and an ideal relationship between father and son in this case.  Sometimes the baggage lasts a lifetime and the separated child and parent never become close.  Another sad legacy of war…

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Native Americans come home after war with scars…

http://centerforhealthreporting.org/article/war-leaves-ptsd-scars-native-american-vets906  Quote from this site…

Ruben Ramirez, 86, holds photographs of himself and others while serving in Italy during World War II. Ramirez, an American Indian, is undergoing treatment for PTSD. (Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee)

“Ruben Ramirez earned a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts as a World War II infantryman fighting Nazi troops in North Africa and Italy. The physical wounds he sustained in combat eventually healed. Not so his emotional injuries.

To this day, Ramirez, 86, a retired diesel mechanic and American Indian who traces his roots to the Apache nation, is tormented by recurrent nightmares of having witnessed his buddies being blown apart. He gets out of bed every few hours to patrol the perimeter of his house in Fresno.”

While visiting the absolutely beautiful City of St. George, Utah yesterday, I was reminded of our rich Native American history, including my own Lakota blood lines from my Great-Grandmother, Mattie Sparks, who was half Lakota.  You could see Native American in my Grandfather,  Art, and his brothers, but not so much with our Dad and my siblings because of our Norwegian & German heritage.  I can say we are all proud to be of Native American heritage!  I love the American Indian Great Plains flute music for starters, and really enjoyed the variety of Native American art displayed in the galleries around St. George.

Native Americans have always served in the U.S. Armed Forces and continue to do so.  We can learn how to help our warriors returning home to life after war by looking back at the way Native American tribes and communities cared for their own warriors long ago.  One of my favorite reads as a reference is War and the Soul, by Dr. Edward Tick, which can be purchased from this website along with my own book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  When warriors returned from battle with other tribes of the past, the entire tribal community surrounded them with love and “soul-feeding” to help them readjust to life after war.  This kind of loving care and attention was part of the Native American culture.  In modern America we struggle with caring for our warriors at the local level where veterans return home to life after war.  My recommendation is to learn from the experience of our Native American heritage to help us do a better job of caring for our veterans returning home from war today.

Honor Native American warriors along with American veterans of all wars…

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

St. George Utah – Gateway to Zion National Park


St. George, Utah near Zion National Park


Steve & Judy at Jake’s Old House: Life is Good/Desert Artisan Gifts

Nicole with Life is Good
Judy and I stopped at the local park, Vernon Worthen Park & Centennial Park, for a picnic and to scope out our beautiful surroundings in this special City of St. George, Utah.  Also the home of Dixie State College.  We learned while talking to Nicole at the Life is Good shop that Dixie is sort of a party school and well attended by those who love having a good time along with serious studies,http://dixie.edu/.  Believe it or not the Life is Good brand is new to me, which shows how much I go shopping.  I was compelled to buy a hat and shirt while in the store.  It was a pleasure talking to Nicole who made us feel right at home.  Nicole’s smile is captivating, and she clearly loves meeting people and sales work with Life is Good.  Nicolle is from Idaho and on a break from college.

Entrada Country Club

Split Rock is developing over 1,000 acres in the very scenic Snow Canyon corridor adjacent to the renowned Johnny Miller Championship Golf Course at Entrada Golf and Country Club. Split Rock Development Group has woven the land, the symbols and the artwork of the Native American heritage into several distinct communities surrounding the Entrada Championship Golf Course.


Split Rock is the high end developer in this area…  They own the Ancestor Square & Gallery where the Life is Good store is located  http://www.ancestorsquare.com/.  It was a treat to hang out for the afternoon in this historical site where Native American art is a highlight in the Gallery.  Wish we had some extra pocket change to buy a piece or two.  My style these days is a new hat and T-shirt…  We enjoyed our visit to St. George very much, especially Starbucks where we got our coffee treat for the day, and Wi-Fi access.  Judy and I are technology crazy boomers with smart phones and laptop always in hand.  I love doing my blog on this trip to record and share the sites and what we are learning.  We hope our followers are enjoying it as much as we do.  You are joining us on this trip from start to finish while we head southeast to Florida and points along the way.  Thanks for coming along in cyberspace!

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story