Monthly Archives: February 2014

Rebound Orthopedics and Salmon Creek Medical Center… It takes a team of top medical professionals and people who care…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at BarnesandNoble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center

Gregory D. Gramstad, M.D. is an orthopedic surgeon with fellowship training in shoulder and elbow surgery. He offers minimally invasive treatments for rotator cuff disease, shoulder instability, frozen shoulder and elbow arthritis. In addition, he specializes in shoulder and elbow replacement surgery and reconstruction for trauma.
His primary goal will be to treat you as he would treat a friend, with prompt attention, a caring ear and thoughtful advice. He strives to recognize the unique nature of each patient’s condition and to offer the most up-to-date and proven treatments available.

Rebound Orthopedics Salmon Creek

Rebound Orthopedics & Neurosurgery at Legacy Salmon Creek is a full service sub-specialty orthopedic and neurosurgery clinic.  This location also offers physical therapy, hand therapy, and physical medicine and rehabilitation also called physiatry.
Rebound Orthopedics & Neurosurgery
Legacy Salmon Creek
Medical Office Building A
2121 NE 139th St., Suite 300
Vancouver, WA 98686

Portland Trailblazers picked Rebound Orthopedics!

Sports Medicine

Rebound’s sports medicine specialists help athletes and active individuals reach optimal performance in their sport and in their everyday life. Our team has cared for professional, collegiate and amateur athletes alike for over 40 years, and we’re proud to be the team physicians for the Portland Trail Blazers, Portland WinterHawks, Portland State University’s Athletic Department, and Concordia University’s Athletic Department. Your Rebound team will work together to create an effective treatment plan to get you back to doing the activities you love.

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If the Portland Trailblazers picked Rebound Orthopedics, I want to be on the same team!

I’ve been out of commission the last couple of weeks preparing for a 5th surgery on my right shoulder.  The last three days at Legacy Salmon Creek represented one of the toughest tests of resilience and mindfulness for me in a long time.  My surgery was complicated some years ago with a total shoulder replacement that became infected and had to be removed.  Dr. Gregory D. Gramstad pictured above has been my surgeon for 7 years now, helping me through the gruelling and emotional decisions of what to do next and weighing the risks.  As an active person physically for all my life, losing mobility due to arthritis has been a scary thought indeed.  I have felt confident in the medical technology and procedures connected with joint replacement, but there are risks.  My shoulder is an example of risk taking the lead with a nasty slow growing infection initially that required treatment. This time my plastic socket came loose floating around in my shoulder, causing havoc and pain.  The other part of the treatment mix is the added challenges of trauma-informed care. The team of medical professionals led by Dr. Gramstad were well aware of my long history of anxiety and depression. They included my special needs as critical to a holistic approach that was necessary in keeping a close eye on my emotional stability. All the assistants and nurses were also trauma-informed and constantly checked in with me to help avoid panic attacks.  My wife, Judy, stayed in my room with me for the entire hospital stay. I had every imaging test conceivable, including an MRI “torture chamber.”  This was a must to try to  isolate the potential infection or possibly cancer in my shoulder.  Extra loving care and anti-anxiety medication were on hand making a huge difference in my well being during this highly intense and traumatic hospital visit.

The good news back in the safety and comfort of our home in Depoe Bay, is reflecting on the wonderful care received during this most recent medical challenge.  My left shoulder feels pretty good now.  So far, no infection has appeared that would add bigger complications.  I am very grateful to have the best medical resources available to me, especially all the caring and loving medical professionals who helped me through each and every moment of three difficult days at Legacy Salmon Creek.  I am especially grateful to my wife and best friend, Judy, for sticking with me for the entire time, staying in my room with me 24/7. Once again, Dr. Greg D. Gramstad and his team left no stone unturned and gave me a sense of comfort the entire way.

The measure of my healing and overall wellness right now is best illustrated by revisiting my hospital stay, including writing about the wonderful treatment received by the best medical professionals and staff in the world at Rebound and Legacy.  I am now able to get back to the work I love with Neighbors for Kids, and in helping others who are challenged in life after trauma… My work on this planet is not nearly finished, so good health and well being is a huge blessing at this moment…and in looking forward to making a difference in the world for a long time to come…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order my book…

What does Trauma-Informed Care mean to me? “It is not what is wrong with you, it is what happened to you!”

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at BarnesandNoble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Welcome to the National Center for Trauma-Informed Care…(SAMSHA)  Quote from this website…

“Traumatic experiences can be dehumanizing, shocking or terrifying, singular or multiple compounding events over time, and often include betrayal of a trusted person or institution and a loss of safety. Trauma can result from experiences of violence. Trauma includes physical, sexual and institutional abuse, neglect, intergenerational trauma, and disasters that induce powerlessness, fear, recurrent hopelessness, and a constant state of alert. Trauma impacts one’s spirituality and relationships with self, others, communities and environment, often resulting in recurring feelings of shame, guilt, rage, isolation, and disconnection. Healing is possible.”

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Without once mentioning a “mental health disorder” diagnosis of any kind, the organization referenced looks immediately at the common sense component of traumatic life experiences.  There is much more to reference on this website, but the above paragraph captures the full essence and potential impact of trauma in a person’s life.  The reference site, more importantly, discusses not what is wrong with you, but what has happened to you…  The following additional quote is powerful…

“Trauma-informed care is an approach to engaging people with histories of trauma that recognizes the presence of trauma symptoms and acknowledges the role that trauma has played in their lives. NCTIC facilitates the adoption of trauma-informed environments in the delivery of a broad range of services including mental health, substance use, housing, vocational or employment support, domestic violence and victim assistance, and peer support. In all of these environments, NCTIC seeks to change the paradigm from one that asks, “What’s wrong with you?” to one that asks, “What has happened to you?”

Quite by accident my lay person approach to “what happened to me” evolved in the research and writing of my story.  This was the beginning of my own healing and recovery almost three years ago, including launching this blog around the same time. I had never before understood the roots of my emotional challenges from growing up in a toxic home as a post WWII and Korean War military child.  I was able for the first time at age 64, to acknowledge the role of trauma in my life. Once I truly accepted the roots of my behavior it was then possible to take the necessary steps to start the healing and recovery process.   

As a work in progress my life has changed dramatically for the better.  Today, I live each day in the moment with a sense of mindfulness as much as possible.  For the first time in my long life I have peace of mind.  The common sense work of going back and revisiting the past and acknowledging the roots of traumatic experiences actually works.  All of this discovery was realized without my knowledge of a long ago mental health diagnosis until later in my research and treatment.

When honorably discharged from the US Navy in the fall of 1965, I was not provided with any documentation of my emotionally challenging or traumatic circumstances nor a diagnosis. It was just last year, almost two years following the publication of my book, that upon my request, the US Navy sent me the following diagnosis included in my medical records from 1965…”Acute Agitated Depression” and  “Emotionally Unstable.”  I apparently had an “extremely low tolerance to stress or frustration.”  In 1965 there was no such diagnosis for PTSD.  I believe that my ability and resilience to survive and thrive as a young man provided me with the strength to carry on.  Had I known a specific diagnosis, including the apparent risk of suicide, at the time of my departure from the US Navy, my life may have turned out much differently…  There are two full pages of narrative on my circumstances and diagnosis that remains private.  I can only say that the Naval Neuropsychiatric team who cared for me did a great job saving my life!

In my post US Navy civilian life all the baggage carried forward and resulted in a very challenging adult life that was successful from a professional perspective, but painful for me personally and for those close to me for a very long time.  It took being retired at age 64 and a strong motivation to find out “what happened to me,” to finally transform myself into a more healthy person with hope for the future and the ability to love myself and others, especially my immediate family members.

You can read my story by downloading or purchasing a paperback copy.  My story has a much deeper meaning to me now than in 2011 when first publishing my book. Becoming “trauma-informed” also gives me the inspiration to write this blog and make a difference for others in other appropriate venues.  I am so grateful to have discovered my own journey of healing, and for the loving support of many friends and loved ones, especially my wife and soul mate, Judy…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

Meet Thomas H. LaBelle, Volunteer CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)…Special volunteer adults needed for this important work…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at BarnesandNoble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Santa Tom
Thomas H. LaBelle click link bio
CASA Volunteer

Court Appointed Special Advocate…  Quote from CASA website…

What is CASA for Children?

“Every day in this country, 1,900 children become victims of abuse or neglect, and four of them will die. Every day. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children is a network of 933 community-based programs that recruit, train and support citizen-volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities. Volunteer advocates—empowered directly by the courts—offer judges the critical information they need to ensure that each child’s rights and needs are being attended to while in foster care.

Volunteers stay with children until they are placed in loving permanent homes. For many abused children, a CASA volunteer is the only constant adult presence in their lives.”

*****       

Every day, across the USA, hundreds of kids — perhaps thousands, who can really say — suffer abuse or neglect at the hands of troubled parents.  I, and many people like me (though not nearly enough people like me), work to right these wrongs.  I’m a Volunteer Guardian ad Litem (VGAL).  


Guardian ad Litem is a legal term meaning “guardian through the period of litigation”.  The word Volunteer means we do it for free.  In some venues we are known as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates).  Here’s what we do.


A child has come to the attention of the local welfare agency.  Someone’s called them… Could be a teacher, doctor, family member, neighbor, concerned citizen  or maybe a cop. The child welfare agency finds the child has been starved, beaten, psychologically tormented, or raped. They pull the child out of the home and a Dependency Action is initiated.  The judge rules the child is dependent on the state and places the victimized youngster in a foster home, and that’s when we come in. The judge hearing the case appoints a VGAL to come before the court and advocate for the child’s best interests.  The VGAL is often the only hope of safe and secure resolution for the children and families involved. 


When you become a child’s VGAL, you’re in for the long haul.  You’re on the case until the judge is satisfied and the dependency action is dismissed.  This can be years.  Sometimes these dependency cases are never dismissed, but when the child reaches eighteen the case becomes moot.


We’re busy-bodies.  Armed with a charter from the court, we’re empowered to investigate all aspects of the case, and I mean all.  We interview everyone we can find and dig deep into the whole squalid mess.  No VGAL worth his salt leaves no stone unturned.  Many times the VGAL uncovers a critical fact unnoticed or ignored by the official agencies, and this discovery turns the case.  


When we’ve all the ducks in a row, we submit a report to the judge.  In most cases, our recommendations are at variance with those of the parents, the family, their lawyers, the state agencies and their lawyers.  Pleased to say, the judges realize we have the child’s best interests at heart and uses our recommendations as the core of the final ruling.


When you, as a VGAL or CASA, enter the case, you are empowered by the court, on your own and independent.  You are the kid’s “paladin.”  You are the one who ends the pain.  You are the one who gives the child a new shot at life. You are often the only person who’s ever cared about the young child!


In my twenty-eight years as a VGAL, I’ve saved the lives of at least two kids, and the sanity of several more.  I can tell you plainly that being a VGAL or CASA is a righteous act, one in which you can take great pride.  In advocating a child’s best interests, you’ve truly pursued justice.  And most often, you’ll have caught it.  This is the payoff for challenging passionate work and a lot of  “storm and stress.”

If you have a sense of justice and fair play, of mercy and basic human goodness, call your local juvenile court and step up to the plate.  You’ll be a person of high integrity and honor walking on the side of the angels.


Thomas H. LaBelle
Snohomish, Washington

*****

My dear old pal, Tom LaBelle, friends for over 40 years, has been a CASA volunteer for at least 28 years and has never said a word to me about it.   Tom works behind the scenes to save the lives of abused and neglected children.   When Tom learned of my own passion for helping children and families who live in toxic homes, he reached out and offered to write the above heartwarming but painful post for my blog.  The work of a CASA volunteer can be compared to a forensic detective searching for the truth.  In my experience child abuse and neglect is often covered up so as to not expose the family to legal implications and scandal.  I know from my own experience growing up in a post WWII and Korean War toxic home, that my parents were good at keeping the abuse a secret.  As siblings we were co-conspirators in the cover-up.  We were in fear all the time and scared of what would happen if we talked about what was going on in our home during the “too terrible to remember 50’s and early 60’s.”  When we were finally able to leave home as young adults we tried to put all of the scary stuff from childhood behind us.  As we soon discovered as adults, the emotional baggage affected all of us for a lifetime.  We sucked it up mostly, but the symptoms of PTSD came back to haunt our lives in many ways.

I was at the prime age of 64 before finally coming to terms with my past by researching and writing a non-fiction book, starting this blog as an on-going healing strategy, and speaking whenever possible at appropriate book signing events and forums.  It is never too late to start the journey of healing.  So many children do not have the opportunity to escape toxic home circumstances and learn to survive and thrive.  I feel blessed today to finally have peace of mind in my life.

As part of my own healing and for the benefit of helping others, it is a duty and pleasure for me to share the resources available for children and families to receive help.  The CASA program is one such resource we need to learn more about and pass the word around the social media world to advance the cause of awareness.

I am very lucky to know Tom LaBelle as a lifelong friend.  I am also super proud of his work for so many years as a CASA volunteer.  Tom, like many others who serve America in this legally and court empowered volunteer position, make the very best efforts to change the course of events for children living in unfortunate circumstances at home.  CASA volunteers become very good at the work they do and are passionate in their efforts to save the lives of children who are at risk.  

Thank you, Tom LaBelle, for your long service as a CASA volunteer, and for your short story to post on this blog to help others become aware of the work of CASA for children.  I also hope this message will inspire many other special adults who care about children to step up and volunteer for CASA…  Making a difference for kids is the most rewarding and healing work of my own lifetime.   It could be your legacy too…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…


“Is Anybody Listening?” “The Welcome Johnny and Jane Home Project” theme song music video from Paula Joan Caplan…

Paula Joan Caplan website…
Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at BarnesandNoble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Paula Joan Caplan bio  click on link here…

Is anybody listening?   click on music video here…

Published on Feb 16, 2014
“Is Anybody Listening?” ©2014 lyrics by Paula Joan Caplan & Patricia Lee Stotter, ©2014 music by Patricia Lee Stotter & Tim Leitch
www.listen2veterans.org
The Welcome Johnny and Jane Home Project (Paula Joan Caplan, Founder and Director)
quote from Paula Joan Caplan…Facebook post…2/17/2014

“Video of lyrics of Welcome Johnny and Jane Home theme song is now online!

Many of you know that “Is Anybody Listening?” my new song with Patricia Lee Stotter and Tim Leitch — the theme song for The Welcome Johnny and Jane Home Project — was posted at listen2veterans.org I have been so touched and thrilled by the warmth and enthusiasm of your responses, some from veterans and some from non veterans. How lucky was I that Patty and Tim wanted to do this with me!?

A number of people asked for a copy of the lyrics, so the wonderful Cris Gonzalez created a video of the lyrics to go with the audio, and thanks to web guru Chris Prendergast, the video is now available at listen2veterans.org right where you see the slide show of the people wearing our “Listen to a veteran” t-shirts. (And yes, the picture of the woman and man is of my mother, Tac Karchmer Caplan, who has done listening sessions with more veterans than anyone else in the Project and who is always described as a terrific listener, and my son-in-law, Jamaal Stephenson!)

Please feel free to tell one and all about the video. Thank you!”

*****

I am pleased and honored to share “The Welcome Johnny and Jane Home Project” theme song with my friends, followers, and family!  The beautiful lyrics are shown in the video along with audio.  I love to share music especially when the message is healing and creates awareness for the needs of so many who survive and thrive in life after trauma, including veterans of all wars and the families who served too…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

What do we know about PTSD and moral lnjury from the American Revolutionary War?

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at BarnesandNoble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Taken from the Sons of the American Revolution Facebook page…

PTSD throughout American History…BY  | NOVEMBER 11, 2013 

“Revolutionary War: In the 1700s, PTSD was called nostalgia. A French surgeon described it as having three stages: 1) “heightened excitement and imagination,” 2) “period of fever and prominent gastrointestinal symptoms,” and 3) “frustration and depression” (Bentley, 2005). Not much was written about the effects of the war on soldiers. But they had to have suffered emotionally. These men fought for the freedom of their country in conditions where they didn’t have the resources needed to keep them warm, dry, and fed. Many died from starvation and exposure. Yet after the war, when they returned to civilian life, they were forgotten. The new nation couldn’t even afford to pay them.”

Suffering in Silence…

Soldiers facing death, 1861
Photo: Library of Congress



Psychological Disorders and Soldiers in the American Civil War

SARAH A. M. FORD
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania


“The first mentions of symptoms correlated with PTSD dates back three thousand years ago; four thousand years before it would be clinically recognized. Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics depicted the emotions and fears soldiers felt while in combat. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote, in 480 B.C, of a Spartan soldier who was taken off the front lines due to his trembling and later took his own life in shame.6 In the seventeenth century any disorder associated with depression or changes in personality was termed melancholy or nostalgia. Symptoms similar to PTSD were called Soldier’s Heart and Da Costa Syndrome during the mid and late nineteenth century.7 The catalyst for the recognition of PTSD was the outbreak of World War One. The Great War had some of the worst casualties in human history as a result of revolutionary weaponry that redefined warfare. The psychological effects of this war were often seen in the returning veterans as many experienced involuntary ticks and shook unaccountably.8 This later would be termed Shell Shock.”

PTSD on the Frontier… 

January 12, 2012 by Frances Hunter
George Rogers Clark and the Defense of Fort Harrod in 1777, by Frederick Yohn
“For decades to come, frontiersmen were often characterized as hard-drinking, violent, and anti-social, as well as restless and always ready to move on to the next frontier. It would be interesting to know to what degree PTSD played a role in these aspects of life in the early American West. In any case, dealing with traumatized people would have simply been part of life for William Clark (and later, during his many years on the frontier, Meriwether Lewis). Who knows — it’s even possible PTSD may have played a role in the alcoholism and lack of focus that characterized the post-war years of George Rogers Clark.”
PTSD song…video music clip… click this YouTube link… Powerful and healing!

*****

I just joined Sons of the American Revolution Facebook page!  I love history and have written in the past about “Soldiers Heart,” the term used for PTSD during the American Civil War.  I have also looked at the symptoms connected with war and trauma in the book, Odysseus in America…Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming, by Jonathan Shay, which shows evidence of moral injury and PTSD in the time of Ancient Troy.  When we speak of the horrors of war and generations of pain in life after war, we now know without question how damaging war is to the moral fabric of society.

Please take quality time and learn more about how early America lived and coped with war and trauma by going to the above links.  If your interest in American history and ancestry is peaked with this introduction, join the Sons of the American Revolution Facebook page.  Staying in touch with our past is most helpful in connecting the dots to life today in the 21st Century.  It can also be healing and heartwarming to know that we have never been alone as survivors in life after trauma…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

Sometimes kids who live in toxic homes need outside help and intervention!

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at BarnesandNoble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Happy Child!

Child Abuse Intervention…

“ABC House is the child abuse intervention center serving Benton and Linn Counties.  We provide high-quality child abuse assessments for local children when there are concerns of abuse and neglect.  Doctors specializing in child abuse medicine give children head-to-toe medical exams and trained child interviewers talk with children about what really happened to them.  ABC House also offers individual and family counseling, family support and referrals for other much-needed services.  Children and families receive comprehensive services in one safe, child-friendly environment to help lessen the hurt and start on the path toward healing.”

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I hate the thought of child abuse or emotional neglect!  But the reality is we do live in a world where bad things happen to kids all the time.  Most of the time it is kept under wraps, a big secret, and no one likes to talk about it.  I was around the same age as the “happy child” in the picture above during the “too terrible to remember 1950’s and early 1960’s” when life in my home was very scary. My Dad served in extended combat both during WWII and Korean War.  He suffered terribly with the symptoms of PTSD.  Back then, there was little or no help for families struggling with toxic circumstances at home.  Most of the time it was a shameful secret…

I love happy kids!  I also have a big commitment of keeping kids happy and healthy while they are growing up to be productive and responsible teens and adults.   My work with Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay gives me the opportunity and honor to make a difference for children and the community.  Kids need a chance to succeed. They can thrive with the right mix of healthy activities, education, and caring adult mentors. Some of our kids do not live in the best conditions at home so what we provide in our after-school program gives them hope and the extra edge needed to get through the day…

We are much better these days than during my childhood in helping kids and families who face adversity at home.  That’s why my post for today is sharing information about the ABC House, as an example of help for kids when it is a critical need.  If you know of kids who are suffering at home with emotional neglect or abuse, ABC House can help.  Just pick up the phone and call.  Don’t wait around and hesitate if as a neighbor or friend you have valid concerns or observe a serious problem. There was no ABC House during my frightening childhood back in the day.  We had to just “suck it up” and fend for ourselves.  Most of us make it but carry lots of emotional baggage into adult life, and must address it at some point.  Child abuse and neglect sticks around as emotional baggage with a person well into adulthood.  We survivors are pretty good at making it invisible most of the time, but we suffer with the symptoms of PTSD and eventually need help. 

It is our duty and responsibility as a broader community to protect children, all children.  So, keep in mind, the ABC House and responsible adults are out there to help.  Don’t ever hesitate to ask or refer help…when your heart tells you to do so!

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story   click to order…

Vice Chair
Neighbors for Kids
Depoe Bay, Oregon


The “flip side” of PTSD…making you stronger in the face of adversity… Resilience and self awareness!

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes&Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Steve Sparks, speaking at the Lincoln City Cultural Center…

Survive and Thrive…as a family with PTSD…video clip  click on this link for Part I of my presentation…

Post-Traumatic Stress’s Surprisingly Positive Flip Side By JIM RENDON March 22, 2012 New York Times…  Powerful quote from this site…

Resilience…video clip… Testimonials…

“Beltran spent years in therapy and read many books about people who surmounted adversity, all of which, he says, helped him change. More recently, through classes and group therapy at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, he was introduced to the science and thinking behind this psychological change. “It’s given it a name,” Beltran said, “and has enhanced my personal development.” The name for Beltran’s change is post-traumatic growth. And the classes he takes are part of a $125 million Army-wide program called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, which is intended to help soldiers become more resilient and to help them recognize how the trauma of combat can change them for the better. For years, Beltran carried photos of the explosion to remind himself of what he overcame. Now, he says, he carries those pictures to show to others. “I want to share my experience,” he told me. “Whatever knowledge or wisdom I have.”  

*****

I found this wonderful website article from the New York Times and also discovered the US Army’s “Comprehensive Soldier&Family Fitness” program and resource.  The above quote explains the value in just a few powerful words.  The program connected with me immediately because of my own personal experience as a military child in a toxic home.  It was also reinforcing because of the treatment and transformation I have experienced as a civilian over the past 3 years through researching and writing my book, starting this blog, and in participating in forums as a speaker.  The common thread with what the US Army is now offering in very proactive ways and my journey is “awareness” in self and others.  The value of human connectedness and in becoming more aware of our spiritual side as humans provides a perspective that begins to create a new, more resilient and highly positive life after trauma.  The work to accomplish big change is deliberate and requires discipline.  The benefits are enormous over time as is demonstrated in my video  along with the US Army testimonial video clip.  For me the greatest benefit in keeping the pain of past trauma at a safe distance is making a difference and helping others.  Standing alone and in silence is pure agony and best described in the below quote by Maya Angelou…  Please take the quality time to review the links and video clips provided in the post.  It might change your life forever…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order my book…





A Valentines Day Tribute…to my loving wife and partner of 30 years…Judy Sparks, who gave me the gift of deep love, friendship and compassion in my life…

Judy Sparks on our cross country road trip in late 2012 visiting Orlando, Florida
“Compassion” from Rewire Me…Unlock Your Mind… click this link…

Judy and Sarah 1989 Stehekin, Washington “Eskimo Kisses…

Click both links above…

My loving wife and partner, Judy, saved my life almost 14 years ago…at a low time in my life and in our marriage.  She has always been my best friend and loving partner since we first started dating in the early 1980’s while both of us were working in the same careers in Seattle, Washington.  We became good friends in the mid 1970’s working together to advance professionalism and recognition of telecommunications industry professionals as board members in the Telecommunication Association..Northwest Chapter (TCA).


When we found each other in a closer friendship, then marriage in April 1984, my life changed dramatically. Judy showed me what love was really like.  I did not know or trust love until that time so long ago.  Judy put me on a path of healing, love, and compassion for others that was never experienced in my life before that time.  I discovered a life larger than myself for the first time…a beautiful thing and a miracle in life that was not possible or part of my life until the moment we became one… 

Judy’s story is captured in a wonderful and heartfelt video filmed at a speaking event during the 2013 Celebration of Honor.  I was invited to speak at the Lincoln City Cultural Center on September 21, 2013 about children and families challenged with PTSD as part of the event.  My talk was entitled, Surviving and Thriving…as a family with PTSD…  Please click on the YouTube video below and listen to Judy’s introduction (click link) for my discussion on this critically important topic of our time when so many families are challenged in life after trauma as veterans and 1st responders…

Steve Sparks…on this Valentines Day in February 2014…

Love Never Fails…  Click to view music video…

  • ArtistAmy Sky

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

FORWARD – Reconciliation, A Son’s Story by Steve Sparks.  Forward was written by Judy Young Sparks.

In March, 2011, my husband and I traveled to Bucerias, Mexico.  Our first night there we met the woman in the room next to us while sitting outside on our patio.  As the woman said good bye, she casually mentioned her husband would be reliving another helicopter battle in Vietnam that evening and hoped we would not be disturbed.  I asked if he was okay and she said he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and relived the dream night after night.  We met her husband in the elevator the next day; he was a gentle, quiet man.  From outward appearances we would never have known he suffered from a mental health issue.  After our weekend we upgraded to a larger suite in an adjacent building and did not run into our neighbors again before their departure from the resort.

Steve had started documenting his father’s World War II history about two months prior to our trip.  He planned to request his father’s naval records when we returned from Mexico.  As luck would have it, about six days into our trip I became ill and dehydrated, and more or less completely missed two days of our Mexican adventure.  Being a devoted, caring husband, Steve stayed in the room with me while I recovered from a vicious bacterial infection.  While I slept, he worked on his “story” to record his family history for our children and grandchildren.  Having a clear head away from our daily grind, his “story” began evolving into something much larger. 

As I read this body of work I began to see the story as a case study from the perspective of a lay person.  Steve had shared some of his childhood memories with me, but as he embraced each of his siblings in telling their stories, I saw a much bigger picture unfolding.  Steve’s new awareness about his father’s “battle fatigue” condition of the past became the catalyst for a significant self-discovery journey.  My husband’s journey through dark moments of his past created an opportunity to lift an invisible veil that both of us had not really fully acknowledged.   The value of facing the truth has been powerful and healing.

Over the last 28 years that I’ve been with my husband I have felt he was misunderstood more than not.  It is clear to me now that misunderstandings are often not the fault of anyone, but the result of not having all the information and communication barriers.   Maybe I’m the exception, not the rule, in separating some of the behaviors from the man I fell in love with.  I am hopeful that those closest to him see a more complete picture of who he is, and his hopes and dreams for his loved ones.  Steve has a warm heart and a loving spirit; writing this story makes it even more apparent. 

Watching my anxious partner embrace a more peaceful and happy existence has been a positive journey for me as well.  I have a much greater understanding of what his life has been about during times of struggle.  I don’t believe much in coincidences.  My philosophy has always been that life experiences unfold as they were meant to be.  The timing of Steve’s writing journey is part of the greater plan.  He is able to embrace the truth, learn from this experience and share that with those he loves deeply.  His motivation has also been to help others who may have experienced family trauma, especially related to military service.   He wants to share his newfound peace and hopefully make a difference for the greater good.

I’ve often thought about the couple next door in Mexico during these last months.  Steve’s extensive research on PTSD has given me an informed perspective I did not have previously.  My hope is that our short time neighbors in Mexico and other war veterans are able to reach a peaceful existence within their own families, and break the cycle of intergenerational PTSD.  Although there are many take-aways in Part 3 of this book for all to consider, perhaps the greatest is knowing that none of us is alone in our life’s journey.  Unconditional love exists for each of us from a higher power or, if we’re fortunate enough, from earthly family and friends as well.  In love lies our strength.


Judy Young Sparks
Depoe Bay, Oregon
September, 2011

Why are we talking more about “mindfulness” and “meditation” to treat anxiety or depression? “Living in the moment” is hard work, but it works…

Western medicine has questioned the medical benefits of meditation.

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

The benefits of “mindfulness” in relieving anxiety and depression…  Quote from this website article by “Shots, Health News from NPR.”

“People are increasingly turning to mindfulness mediation to manage health issues, and meditation classes are being offered through schools and hospitals.
But doctors have questioned whether this ancient Eastern practice really offers measurable health benefits. A fresh review of the evidence should help sort that out.
Meditation does help manage anxiety, depression and pain, according to the 47 studies analyzed in JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday, but does not appear to help with other problems, including substance abuse, sleep and weight.
“We have moderate confidence that mindfulness practices have a beneficial effect,” wrote the author of the paper, Dr. Madhav Goyal of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in an email to Shots. He says the positive effects on anxiety, depression and pain can be modest, but are seen across multiple studies.”

Michele Rosenthal…”Making the practice of mindfulness easier.”  click this link and read more…

Michele Rosenthal, “Heal My PTSD”

“When I first I learned about the importance of mindfulness practice in reducing stress and improving health, I inwardly whined, Another thing for the to-do list! As a committed transcendental meditation disciple, I thought I was doing enough to train my brain for optimal functioning. Then I interviewed Dr. Ron Siegel, assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School (where he has taught for more than 30 years), and my perspective shifted.
Mindfulness isn’t a must-set-time-aside-to-do activity. As Dr. Siegel (a longtime student of mindfulness meditation who also serves on the board of directors and faculty of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy) explained it, mindfulness is as easy as breathing and can be incorporated into your life without feeling like a chore.”
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I am very encouraged to see frequent articles and tips about the practice of “mindfulness” or better said, learning how to “live in the moment.”  Lately there seems to be a thread of living in the moment in many of my own posts, including during speaking events, where my personal experience is referenced connecting the dots strongly to focusing on mindfulness.  Just this week my blog post, including video clip, is pointed directly to checking in with your senses consistently to allow life right now to be your preoccupation rather than triggers of pain from the past…  

Practicing mindfulness is not easy, however.  We have to learn to dig in on what is going on in the moment, especially things you are passionate about.  For me writing about the subject of children and families in life after trauma gets me going each day…very passionately.  When we experience the pain of trauma, it is often a life changing event or many events over a longer period of time.  In my case, growing up in a toxic home ripped me apart for many years before getting a handle on a specific path of healing.  After revisiting my past during the “too terrible to remember 1950’s and early ’60’s it became obvious why living in a toxic home with emotional neglect and child abuse stick around until you confront the past and begin to heal.  But it becomes a daily practice of learning how to “take your medicine” by keeping the focus on human connectedness and helping others.  When I am able to stay close to the moment of the day and keep my senses connected to the future, the positive things and making a difference for others in my life, I feel fantastic!  I can say with confidence that the pain of the past keeps a safe distance from my mind and heart as long as my thoughts are into this day and moment.

Take a look at the reference links in my post today and explore the benefits of meditation, mindfulness, living in the moment, human connectedness (people, pets, prayers), and helping the greater good.  This approach to healing from traumatic experiences and events in your life really works.  But you have to use discipline and make it a daily practice.  Find your passion and start practicing mindfulness today.  There are plenty of resources and references and others you can talk to to get started.  Best wishes on you own journey of healing!

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story   click to order… 

The latest “happy place” song is my new favorite! Everybody wins wins wins on this upbeat music and message! Make it your mantra one day at a time!

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Pharrell Williams… “Happy”

Happy Place Video & Song…  click this link for the jumping and jamming “happy” music and song video!

http://24hoursofhappy.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_(Pharrell_Williams_song)  Quote from this website…

Happy” is a song performed by American singer and producer Pharrell Williams, from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack album. The song will also be included on his second studio album which will be released in 2014. The song was written and produced by Williams. It was released on November 21, 2013 alongside a long-form music video presented via the website 24hoursofhappy.com. The song was reissued on December 16, 2013 by Back Lot Music, under exclusive license to Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment.[4] So far, “Happy” has peaked at number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100, topped the charts in in all major music markets including Australia and the United Kingdom, and peaked within the top ten of the charts in Italy, Spain, Hungary and Denmark.”

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It is time again for me to share a really cool song that can’t help but make everybody “happy” as they listen and get into the upbeat music and dancing!  You will want to listen to this new record over and over and over…  Start the day, pick the day up at lunch time, or end the day…it is a moving and wonderful uplifting and in the moment break in the day…  Enoy!

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…click to order…