Monthly Archives: May 2013

D-Day Remembered: In Honor Of Our Military Families…”Changing Direction” with Michele Rosenthal…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click on my author page…  A post WWII family coping and healing in life after war…

Dear friends, loved ones, and followers…
 
I am honored to have been scheduled to appear as a guest on CHANGING DIRECTION with Michele Rosenthal. If your life has gotten to a point where things feel stuck, stalled or just plain wrong it’s time to think about CHANGING DIRECTION! This 30 minutes weekly program covers a wide spectrum of topics designed to help you turn yourself around and get headed in the right direction. With guests from backgrounds that include self-help, mental health, trauma, motivation and inspiration, author/speaker/coach/survivor Michele Rosenthal interviews experts and everyday people about what it takes to change direction and how you can get the job done.
Change you Choose…  Click on this website…
I’ll be on the show this Wednesday, 6/5a pre-D-Day presentation to honor our military and discuss the impact of combat on our soldiers and their loved ones:
 
You can listen in to the interview via your computer or phone. Just follow this link…You can also call in with your comments  and questions:  347-324-5164
 
If you miss the show, you can access the free download archive…
 
I hope you can join us!
 
Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  Click to order my book or download Kindle version…

My Memorial Day Weekend Reflections and Takeaways…by Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story


 

Joshua Jesse Howard Lindner
Los Angeles, Ca.

#1 Pick…Poetry by my dear friend Joshua Jesse Howard Lindner…  Josh got up on Memorial Day morning and sat down and wrote the following prose from his heart.  Josh is a young man in his mid 20’s who is inspired by the dedicated service of 1st responders, soldiers, and loves America…  He has known personal challenges, including the loss of his brother.  Josh is a poet, lyricist, and musician.  He is a highly respected close family friend who cares deeply about making a difference for the greater good…
 
 
Let’s talk about today…
Today I didn’t have to get up early,
I don’t have to work,
I don’t have to break a sweat,
I don’t have to get my hands dirty,
I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’ll have something to eat,
I don’t have to march 18 miles,
I don’t have to worry about improvised explosive devices,
I don’t have to hear the “snap” a 7.62 mm round makes as it breaks the sound barrier passing my head,
I don’t have to say goodbye to a friend,
I don’t have to lose a brother,
I don’t have to miss my home,
I don’t have to save a life,
and I don’t have to give mine.
Today, I am an American.
My liberties are intact,
My family is intact,
And my country is intact.
All of this, because of you.
I could never repay you,
Thank you.



#2 Pick…Prior to seeing the above photo, I had no clue as to profound cost of war in Theater since America was born…  The statistics do not even begin to capture the legacy of war that lives on for generations in life after war.  The statistics do not reflect the loved ones, spouses, family members, and care givers who serve too.  It becomes clear once understanding how war deeply affects our social fabric, including those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, that America can never forget nor ever do enough to repay the debt we owe to veterans of all wars… and the families who serve too…

#3 Pick…Meaning of Memorial Day… Click on this heartwarming video clip…

 
 
“In this undated image released Thursday May 23, 2013, by the British Ministry of Defence, showing Lee Rigby known as ‘Riggers’ to his friends, who is identified by the MOD as the serving member of the armed forces who was attacked and killed by two men in the Woolwich area of London on Wednesday. (AP Photo / MOD)”
 
My friends and followers from the UK who read this blog are very troubled and saddened by this shocking and gruesome event shown around the world right after it happened.  It appeared that the terrorist who was shot and captured wanted the interview on video for all to see.   It reminds us all that the fight against terrorism continues all over the globe and our brothers and sisters in the UK need our support and compassion… 
 
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This has been a Memorial Day weekend of deep reflection for me like no other…   My four picks or takeaways above tugged at my heart and represent the profound meaning of Memorial Day and the legacy of war…  Josh showed me that Americans, no matter what age, get up on Memorial Day and reflect on this day.  And for some like Josh, write down their thoughts for themselves and for others to read.   The casualties of war since the Revolutionary War shown in the 2nd pick above gives me great pause.  Those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in direct combat and the families who lost loved ones is unimaginable without seeing the statistics.  The heartwarming but sad video from www.carrytheload.org shows how important it is for veterans to talk about and show our children very early the sacrifices of war.  Our children carry forward the legacy of war, including honor and duty to keep America free.  Finally, with my #4 pick vigilance is so critical in everyday life to help protect our neighbors from the rare attack at home even though we feel so much safer these days.  It is also a stark reminder that the challenge of terrorism is worldwide and we need to stand by our global partners to help keep us all safe.  We all know this is the “new normal.”
 
Steve Sparks
Author
(click to order my book or download Kindle version)
 

 

Gualala Arts Center, Northern Mendocino Coast Hwy 1… A place of inspiration & healing…

Gualala Arts Center (707) 884-1138
46501 Gualala Rd, Gualala, CA 95445

Sharon Nickodem’s Shrine
 

Beach time in a secret cove near Gualala…

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

“We are a community arts organization, located in Gualala, California, dedicated to promoting public interest and participation in the arts since 1961. Here you can find art exhibits, workshops & classes, classical & popular music performances, theater, lectures and much more.

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Our first day staying in Pt. Arena was a real treat!  We are looking forward to spending the entire week exploring this remote Northern California Coast area on Hwy 1, around 125 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  Why did it take so long for us to get here considering how much of our life has been the Bay Area?  My excuse is we need to save some of the best and very special places on earth for our bucket list…

Gualala and the coastal area near Pt. Arena is special and peaceful indeed.  We noticed a slogan on a tee shirt, “I’m in la la land.”  Pretty much sums up how we felt after our first day hanging out in a place that feels like a huge departure from the hectic life in a larger town with all the 21st Century distractions and stress.  We had to go on a search and rescue mission to find a wifi hot spot, but it seems rather a treat than an inconvenience.  Making cell phone calls out here is a trick, but that doesn’t matter either.  The irony of all the remoteness and lost in time coastal culture is that just a couple of miles from our resort is the Pacific Ocean fiber optics underwater cable gateway at Manchester, Ca.  But it seems nobody really cares or thinks about this sort of thing.  I noticed visitors from out of town chasing down the limited 3g & 4g weak cell signals, including moi…  But who really cares?  Judy and I are sitting in the only wifi hot spot  in the town in Pt. Arena at the Arena Market so guess we care… 

I was inspired to post on my blog today to share with my readers how refreshing it is to find ourselves in a very remote, special, and peaceful place to just kick back and chill out for this Memorial Day holiday week 2013.  We feel blessed and thankful for the sacrifices of veterans of all wars who have protected the freedoms we enjoy each and every day…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  (click to order my book or download Kindle version)
 

The meaning of Memorial Day… My journey of hope and healing…

 
 
 
 

Carry the Load…  Quoting from this website, “where the money goes.”

Meaning of Memorial Day…  Click on this heartwarming video clip…

Over the last year, two operators, one army and one navy, gave their lives while bringing the fight to the enemy. Tip of the Spear was able to immediately respond to requests for family support, providing transportation, lodging, and food during memorial services. Currently, TOS is engaged in providing support for an operator who was killed this past week in training (April 2013). This operator leaves behind a wife and two young children.”

“I want to express my undying gratitude for the assistance you recently provided my family in their time of need. Your organization came to our immediate aide… I can’t express how much it meant to

have all eight brothers and sisters reunited for

the solemn occasion of laying him to rest …

you now have a life-long friend.”

– Brother of Fallen

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Memorial Day means so much more to me these days at the prime age of 66 than anytime in my life.  Since researching and writing my book in 2011, awareness of the legacy of war has increased exponentially.  This break through in compassion, passion, and understanding of life after war has been a blessing in many ways.  Most importantly, I can think about my parents and my childhood without feelings of anger and resentment.  I can honor my father’s WWII and Korean War US Navy service to America without hesitation and denial.  I can see my father in a different perspective as a man dedicated to serving his country.  I can see my mother as serving America too, and enduring much during her life as a military spouse and mom.  I can appreciate and honor veterans of all wars deeply without turning my back because of my own personal experience growing up as a military child.  The best part of my quality of life these days is feeling a peace of mind never experienced before now, and spending my days thinking about making a difference for others.  Awareness is the first step to healing from the invisible wounds of war, as a warrior and as a military family member or loved one.  There is also the knowledge that war is not the only reason for living with moral injury and the symptoms of PTSD…severe traumatic events take an emotional toll on millions of people all over the world for a variety of reasons.  The best way to help others is to start the journey of healing yourself if affected from a traumatic experience.  The personal healing is then fueled by making a difference for others through a campaign of awareness.  On this Memorial Day 2013 start the journey of healing by acknowledging those close to you who are in pain, perhaps even yourself.  Celebrate and remember veterans of all wars, 1st responders, and others who gave the ultimate sacrifice in serving America…  This is your time to remember all the heroes in your life who are no longer with us…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story (click on this link to order my book or download Kindle version)

Nurture your child’s social and emotional growth… Support local community after-school programs…

from One Tough Job.org…

Five ways to keep your family happy and strong…  Quoting this website…

Nurture your child’s social and emotional growth. Make sure that your children know that they are loved and respected, that they can talk about their feelings, and that you can help them work through any challenges that they may face.

  • Listen to your child and encourage her to express how she feels. Help your child problem solve by allowing her to make suggestions and think through problems she may encounter.
  • Show your love. Small, simple gestures everyday are the best ways to show your child you love him. For ten easy ways to show your child you love them click here.

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The above parent resource website got my attention!  I know from my own childhood experience that it takes a lifetime to climb out of the hole from bad experiences while growing up.  I really didn’t feel loved and respected by my parents.  It was more like being a machine or a commodity than anything else during my childhood.  It took me many years of mentoring outside of the home, education, a successful career experience, and most importantly… the best wife in the world, to find my voice and stand my ground as a confident young man who was going places…  It is hard, almost too hard to think about.  But as a survivor, it was worth it because there really was no other choice.  Children are so blessed when they have parents who show how much they love and respect you as a little person who needs a kick-start in life.  Don’t let your child work harder later to build self confidence, start early…  Empower kids with a positive home life and encourage them to make a difference in the lives of others…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story (click to purchase my book or download Kindle version)

    The economic and social cost of depression and anxiety… Awareness is the first step to healing…

    Help Yourself Help Others!  Quoting from this website…

    “Military life can present challenges to service members and their families that are both unique and difficult. Some are manageable, some are not. Many times we can successfully deal with them on our own. In some instances matters get worse and one problem can trigger other more serious issues. At such times it is wise to check things out and see what is really happening. That’s the purpose of these totally anonymous and voluntary self-assessments.”


    by Infographics
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infographic
    Social & Economic Impact

    The above graphic is one of the best illustrations of the depth and breadth of the social and economic challenges of PTSD.  I used it yesterday at my book reading event to honor veterans and families on Armed Forces Day.  The complexity of PTSD requires a big picture view and a consistent message of awareness.  PTSD, the consequence of moral injury in war and other traumatic events in life, is about “what happens to us in these circumstances, not what is wrong with us.”  You can help by becoming more aware of this invisible and inter-generational social and economic challenge for America.  Thousands of soldiers each month are returning home to life after war and need the support of loved ones and resources of local communities to readjust to civilian life.   Those who experienced severe combat need our help to regain their balance so that they can go on to live a happy, healthy, and productive life after war…  Each of us back home must be more aware of the often invisible symptoms of  PTSD so we are better prepared to help our warriors when they return home.

    Steve Sparks
    Author
    Reconciliation: A Son’s Story (click to purchase my book or download Kindle version)

     

    Mental health issues of an a former UK soldier… A journey of taking ownership…

    A soldier’s transition to life after war…  Quoting and sharing from this website…

    From military to civilian; the mental health issues of an ex-soldier…

    Written by Russ.

    “If you are suffering and want some advice, my advice would be to take it 1 step at a time, in your own time. None of us know what tomorrow will bring. If you have not yet admitted you have a problem or are too scared to admit it publicly then when you do, it is important that you own it and don’t let it own you. If you can be honest with yourself it is much easier to own it and take control. If you ask for help I hope you have the same positive experience as I have had.”
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    The above summary by Russ is a break-out statement regarding the critical need to accept responsibility and ownership.  He sees the process of healing as a journey of “taking 1 step at a time.”  From my own experience moving past denial much later in life was the most significant step in achieving positive results.  I have taken lots of small steps in my own time, but could have moved forward much faster by overcoming much earlier the stigma and denial of  early child trauma living in a toxic home.   Being lucky enough to find my soul mate over 30 years ago was the first huge step in marching down the right path of change and transformation…   Saving my marriage 12 years ago by eliminating alcohol for self medication was very big.  Researching and writing my book, was a monumental step in 2011.    And more recently, cutting back on prescription medications, was another yet very important step.  All of this takes time, and on your own time.  But once you can say “I have arrived,” it is a true blessing of living a healthy, happy, and productive quality of life at any age…  But it is a work in progress!

    Steve Sparks
    Author
    Reconciliation: A Son’s Story (click to order my book or download Kindle version.)

    Honor veterans and military families on this Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 18, 2013…

    Armed Forces Day May 18, 2013…  Quoting from this website…

    ‘Strong and Resilient’: Celebrating Armed Forces Day 2013

     

    The Department of Defense has made Armed Forces Day posters, like the one you see above on this post, available online for free download.
    “It is fitting and proper that we devote one day each year to paying special tribute to those whose constancy and courage constitute one of the bulwarks guarding the freedom of this nation and the peace of the free world.”
    -President Dwight D. Eisenhower on Armed Forces Day, 1953
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    Only one way to solve the sexual assualt problem in the workplace…fire people! This policy finally started working in the 80’s… Don’t let this happen on your “watch!”


    Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
    “News about Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times.”
     

    Solving the sexual assualt cultural problem in the military…  Quoting from this website article…

    Multiple Proposals on Assault in Military, but Also Disagreement

    Published: May 15, 2013   

    “WASHINGTON — President Obama, military officials and lawmakers on Capitol Hill are in broad agreement that the sexual assault problem in the military has reached a level of severity that can no longer be tolerated. But that is far different from concurring on how it should be fixed.
    After a Pentagon finding that an estimated 26,000 assaults took place last year, a flurry of legislative proposals — seeking changes to the way prosecution decisions are made and how records of sex-crime accusations are kept and perhaps requiring automatic dishonorable discharges for anyone convicted of sexual assault, among other things — is flowing through Capitol Hill, some at cross purposes. Also on Thursday, Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, the New York Democrat who has made this her signature issue this year, will introduce legislation that would give military prosecutors rather than commanders the power to decide which sexual assault cases to try. Ms. Gillibrand’s goals are to increase the number of people who report crimes without fear of retaliation and to give legal power to military prosecutors. “
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    The male dominated culture, during the prime of my IT corporate career during the 70’s & 80’s, was really tough on women who demonstrated excellent leadership qualities and aspired to make a difference….  Most organizations, including sales and marketing, were populated by men who started careers in the military in a male dominated culture learning the trades.  Women were often considered targets for play rather than team members who would later beat guys at their own game…big time.  I was the average male during my career and behaved at times in ways that were unacceptable and got away with it.  As my career advanced and leadership was the focus, it was clear that we needed to behave differently.  I started recruiting talented women into the sales and marketing organization in my company.  It was easy to see that these aspiring young women were highly intelligent, hard workers, and our customers loved them.  The women who worked for me got results.  They re-defined the way we started building better relationships with customers and internally to orchestrate the sales cycle with outcomes that showed male peers that they needed to step up.  Professional women during my career experience raised the bar and standards of excellence…
     
    But the the harassment culture continued to be a challenge.  We put in place “no tolerance” policies and started firing executives for starters.  We replaced male executives with our top producers and talent from the female ranks.  We started to change the culture over time.  It was no longer a competition of getting attention with the attractive young ladies who were coming in…it became a culture of getting results.  It was never perfect during my career, but the testosterone problem was fixed for the most part at least during the working hours…  I was very proud of the excellent women on my team and other teams during that time.  We really got the job done and became great friends and team players…  We had to fire people to change…  We became more professional in every way…
     
    Steve Sparks
    Author
    Reconciliation: A Son’s Story (click to order my book or download Kindle version)
     

    “Secondary PTSD” in children is very real… Support local community programs that nurture kids! “America’s children are, literally, under attack by secondary PTSD”

    Children & Secondary PTSD…  Quoting from this website…

    (Co-Author of I Always Sit with My Back to the Wall by Dr. Harry A. Croft, M.D., Rev. Dr. Chrys Parker and J.D. (Mar 1, 2011)

    “America’s children are, literally, under attack by secondary  PTSD.  The word “secondary” simply means that they stand one level or step away from the original source of trauma.  For example, a child may be a level removed from the actual mortar rounds that may have traumatized his/her warrior father.  It is critical to note, however, that  EVEN THOUGH THE ROUTE OF EXPOSURE TO TRAUMA MAY BE SECONDARY IN THE CASE OF THE CHILD, ITS SYMPTOMS AND EFFECTS MAY BE THE SAME AS THE PRIMARY SUFFERER.  In this sense, the child may develop PTSD as if he/she is under mortar fire, only indirectly.”
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    While researching and writing my book in 2011, and since connecting with others through this blog, the pattern is the same…  Kids at risk model the challenging emotional behavior of parents and develop their own symptoms of PTSD to carry forward as adults.  Most never get the pain resolved and remain in denial.  Why?  Not because they intend to, it is because they do not want to hurt others with their own pain.  And there is the stigma and motivation by children to protect their family.  My parents demonstrated emotional numbness so much of the time.  We siblings learned how to protect ourselves and survive the toxic post WWII home culture.  We looked okay on the outside, but all of us built a protective shield around ourselves.  Being angry and not knowing why becomes inherent from keeping all this painful stuff in a box next to our heart and inside a secret place in our brain.  We then take it with us well into adult life.   As a potential consequence the next generation of family members risk acquiring the same secondary symptoms of PTSD.  So, it goes on and on for many decades until the pattern is broken by some stroke of magic.

    Local communities can help kids and families break the patterns of early childhood developmental risks by nurturing kids with after-school programs.  Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon… is a great example of an after-school program and non-profit model that fits our rural community on the coast of Oregon very well.  We now have 234 K-12 kids registered in our program who look forward to being with us between the hours of 3pm-6pm.  We are coming up on the 3rd year of a very successful NFK Summer Camp as well…



    Neighbors For Kids

    MISSION:  Neighbors For Kids’ mission is to provide youth in our region with  educational enrichment, positive youth development, and recreational activities; all in a safe environment which focuses them toward healthy lifestyles and leads them to become responsible, contributing adults.

    NFK walk downtown
    Kids from NFK keeping busy and productive after-school…
    There are other critical non-profit programs in Lincoln County like  Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon…  We are all challenged with on-going operational costs.  As a neighbor you can help with a big “YES” vote on Measure 21-151.  Please get your ballot returned right now!
    Steve Sparks