Monthly Archives: June 2014

Mental Health Awareness…”So many people are trying to hide something that needs to be talked about.” Brandon Marshall, wide receiver, Chicago Bears…

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An estimated 590,000 mentally ill patients a year end up in a defacto system of mental health care, including jails and prisons, the streets, and homeless shelters where suicide is a high risk. Click graphic for a larger view…

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The cost of treating mental illness…click graphic to expand view…As states have cut mental health funding, many have increased spending on prisons and jails, says D.J. Jaffe, executive director of MentalIllnessPolicy.org, which advocates for patients with serious mental illness.

USA Today…”The Cost of Not Caring” by Liz Szabo…click here for an in-depth report…

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Brandon Marshall Foundation, team up to fight stigma of mental illness…

Brandon Marshall Foundation… click here for more…

“So many people are trying to hide something that needs to be talked about, and if it’s talked about, so many lives will be saved, says Marshall, who created the Brandon Marshall Foundation to help others with mental illness.”

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It is easy to say “we need to talk about mental health awareness,” but it will take decades of talking to change our culture of denial and remove the stigma from society.  Just this week several people close to me shared stories of the risk of revealing and talking about mental health challenges.  What is very similar about these and many other stories, including my own experience, is the push back and denial connected with talking about the truth and seeking treatment.  Most mental health conditions are manageable if treated effectively…sooner than later is much better…

Younger people are at the highest risk of paying a big price for revealing a standing mental health issue of any type.  Bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress, and clinical depression are high on the list of manageable mental health problems that can kill a career, stop a great opportunity in life, or even break up a loving relationship.  The worst case scenario we want to avoid is suicide.  We survivors pay the price at all ages, especially during our wage earning and career years.  I remember well in 1965 when my first career opportunity with General Telephone & Telegraph in Redondo Beach, California, was cut short of an offer to join the company because of a mental health diagnosis connected with my honorable service in the US Navy.

It was a surprise and shock to me to be told I could not be hired because my military record (DD214) showed a coded medical and mental health status that was “worrisome.”  That year of 1965 was the first time my apparent condition and diagnosis of the symptoms related to what we now know as PTSD became a reality.  From that point forward and during my entire adult life, no one else was ever told or knew.  My US Navy vocational training and skills saved the day when finally hired by the Western Union Telegraph Company.  I was very lucky to get a job that started me off in my career and gave me confidence and hope as a young man.   Although we know much more today than we did then about moral injury and PTSD, especially with soldiers returning home from hard combat duty, nothing has changed for most people who are compelled to keep their mental health challenges and treatment a secret.  And because of the stigma, the lives of sufferers, including children and families, are at risk every day.  Change is slow, but will happen someday, long after my lifetime…

I continue to be very encouraged as more well known leaders and celebrities like, Brandon Marshall, join the cause of mental health awareness.  The first step in changing the very soul of America and attitudes around the globe regarding mental health stigma and denial is awareness.  So we must talk and write about this subject, with the passion and energy that will eventually get through to future generations.  It is with our children that we will change, and someday break the cycle of pain and denial that haunts millions of survivors of traumatic life experiences and other mental health challenges that require professional treatment and healing…

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…  Click on the highlighted text for my author page…

 

 

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Moon over Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Photo taken from our condo looking east to Wolf Pass (click here) in the San Juan Mountains.

Pagosa Springs 2014 Folk’n Bluegrass Festival  click here…

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PETER ROWAN Grammy-award winner and six-time Grammy nominee, Peter Rowan is a singer-songwriter with a career spanning over five decades. From his early years playing under the tutelage of Bluegrass veteran Bill Monroe, to his time in Old & In the Way and breakout as a solo musician and bandleader, Rowan has built a devoted, international fan base through a solid stream of records, collaborative projects, and constant touring.

Peter Rowan, featuring Younchen Lhamo  Click each highlighted link for more, included music…

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Since her 1989 pilgrimage on foot from her beloved homeland of Tibet, Yungchen Lhamo has emerged as the world’s leading Tibetan vocalist. From the quays of Sydney, Australia to the spotlight of New York’s Carnegie Hall, her haunting a cappella performances have enchanted audiences in more than 70 countries and garnered critical praise worldwide.

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Our first weekend in Pagosa Springs, Colorado starting June 6th, was one of the most memorable highlights of our recent road trip.  At 7000′ in a beautiful valley with natural hot springs to heal your body and soul, Pagosa Springs was a memorable experience.  The “Folk’N Bluegrass Festival” was the trigger that motivated us to spend time here, but there was much more to enjoy in this community, including the hot springs.  Driving over Wolf Pass en route to Pagosa Springs was a heavenly experience.  The high mountain valley was in full spring bloom with wildflowers everywhere.  Water collects in shallow grassland valleys and creeks that stretch for many miles over Wolf Pass westward from New Mexico.  We couldn’t get enough of the flowing  green grass as far as our eyes could see.  It is an easy and safe drive with very little traffic and a remoteness that is transfixing.  The high elevation may have something to do with the peaceful feeling of complete mindfulness and spiritual connectedness.

To get to the bluegrass festival, we walked up to Reservoir Hill Park (click here) near town.  It was on this short hike at 7000′ that suggested we were no longer 40-something hikers…..  It was my idea to walk rather than take the shuttle bus, for which we paid the price once getting to the top of the hill.  It was a special treat to experience bluegrass music, often with a Celtic twist, on both Saturday and Sunday.  Peter Rowan’s  performance was the closing act on Sunday evening.  His addition of the spiritual notes and powerful voice of Younchen Lhamo was moving and engaging for the audience.  It seems Peter Rowan may have found a loving and inspirational partner in his later years to make new music for his adoring fans.

Next stop, Moab, Utah and Arches National Park… (click here for previous post)

Steve Sparks. Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1, and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…  Click highlighted titles for my author page…

Start at birth to build healthy minds by singing and reading to children…

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Dr. Leora Mogilner, a pediatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital, gave a book to Kaylee Smith, 9 months, and guidance to her mother, Tameka Griffiths, 33. RUTH FREMSON / THE NEW YORK TIMES

Early child literacy…key to healthy minds… Quote from this website article by the New Your Times…

By MOTOKO RICH

“In between dispensing advice on breast-feeding and immunizations, doctors will tell parents to read aloud to their infants from birth, under a new policy that the American Academy of Pediatrics will announce on Tuesday.”

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In my own work with children as vice chair of Neighbors for Kids (click here) in Depoe Bay, Oregon, literacy programs are a high priority.  We are building a library along with information technology learning resources.  As part of the US Department of Education, “21st Century Community Learning Centers” (click here) goals, monthly literacy nights with parents and kids called “read and feed” started this year and has become highly popular.  This program is a collaboration with Lincoln County School District (LCDS) (click here) to build sustainable after-school programs at key sites within the county.

Even more important to me as a child advocate and author, is the value of engaging in positive ways with kids at a very early age at home and in schools.  At risk kids in particular often come from stressful homes that can cause emotional neglect and abuse.  Parents, teachers, and mentors can help mitigate the risk of long term emotional damage to these children by practicing reading and singing for just a few minutes a day at home.  Kids are more likely to be comfortable at school engaging in fun literacy programs knowing their parents are doing the same as a regular practice at home.

It is often challenging to pay attention to your children at home following a hectic day and in dealing with life challenges.  Please know kids inhale the pain of parents and store it.  As a parent, you can provide a more positive balance and foundation at home by taking a little time each day reading and singing to your child.  It is the kind of quality time with your kids that makes a huge difference for the entire family and helps manage stressful home circumstances…

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1, and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story… click here to order my books…

Delicate Arch “easy” Hike… Arches National Park, and Native American Heritage…

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Steve and Judy at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, June 14, 2014…

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Delicate Arch Hike…

“Delicate Arch has become the unofficial symbol of Utah.  Towering eighty feet over hikers, Delicate Arch is one of the highlights of Arches National Park and is possibly the most beautiful arch in the world. This arch needs to be experienced in person to be really appreciated. This hike competes with Devils Garden as the best hike in Arches National Park.

If you are looking for good photo opportunities this is the spot, Delicate Arch is probably the most photographed arch in the world. Resting on top of a huge Entrada Sandstone formation, the world-famous site offers a dramatic view.”

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Arches National Park, Moab Utah…

“The national park lies atop an underground evaporate layer or salt bed, which is the main cause of the formation of the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins, and eroded monoliths in the area. This salt bed is thousands of feet thick in places, and was deposited in the Paradox Basin of the Colorado Plateau some 300 million years ago when a sea flowed into the region and eventually evaporated. Over millions of years, the salt bed was covered with debris eroded from the Uncompahgre Uplift to the northeast. During the Early Jurassic (about 210 Ma) desert conditions prevailed in the region and the vast Navajo Sandstone was deposited. An additional sequence of stream laid and windblown sediments, the Entrada Sandstone (about 140 Ma), was deposited on top of the Navajo. Over 5000 feet (1500 m) of younger sediments were deposited and have been mostly eroded away. Remnants of the cover exist in the area including exposures of the Cretaceous Mancos Shale. The arches of the area are developed mostly within the Entrada formation.”[5]

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The “easy hike” in the title is how the trail to the Delicate Arch is rated…  We assumed it was at least a moderate to difficult (in places) kind of hike.  Let’s say for us it was challenging.  It was more difficult getting down than up for the old but restored knees.  But we did it and have a picture to prove it!

Like most places in this region of striking beauty, the Native American influence and spirituality is a treasure and inspiration.  As Americans we are blessed with the preservation of our Native American Heritage.  And in this part of America, the American Indian thrived in often harsh but awesomely beautiful place of peace, spiritual growth, and exceptional quality of life… 

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Tribal Rock Art on the Delicate Arch Trail…

“Humans have occupied the region since the last ice age 10,000 years ago. Fremont people and Ancient Pueblo People lived in the area up until about 700 years ago. Spanish missionaries encountered Ute and Paiute tribes in the area when they first came through in 1775, but the first European-Americans to attempt settlement in the area were the Mormon Elk Mountain Mission in 1855, who soon abandoned the area. Ranchers, farmers, and prospectors later settled Moab in the neighboring Riverine Valley in the 1880s. Word of the beauty of the surrounding rock formations spread beyond the settlement as a possible tourist destination.”

There is much to learn about Native American history, and in the “Four Corners” (click here) region of the southwest is a treasure trove of early tribal culture (click here) to learn from.  I have written frequently on this blog about our travels (click here) through out the southwest the past 4 years.  Each year it seems we our drawn back to this region of the USA, and most often seek out Native American culture as food for the soul.  It is my view that the American Indian teachings and life style reinforces the value of community building and sustainability.  The powerful energy, as described in the term “vortex” (click here), best explains the overwhelming feeling of spiritual connectedness while visiting these sacred lands and ancient communities of our Native American Heritage.

The energy vortex of Sedona, Arizona (click here) is one of the most well known areas where so many visitors claim the special feeling of being at the confluence of mother nature’s energy.  I believe this is why learning more about the early American Indian culture is so priceless to we 21st Century humans.  Go to these special places to learn for yourself…a once in a lifetime experience to be sure…

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1, and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story… click for my author page…

Speaking at Vets for Vets in Pagosa Springs, Colorado about children and families of warriors…

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Veterans for Veterans.org Mission  click on website…

Veterans for Veterans…  Quote from this website…

“Veterans for Veterans of Archuleta County is a volunteer charitable organization, 501 c (3), who are veterans helping other veterans to provide financial assistance to veterans and their families in need, to advocate for veterans, provide education and counseling, and to provide a resource of information and experience.”

Membership shall consist only of veterans from the Armed Forces of the United States of America (Air Force, Army, Marines, and Coast Guard).

You may join and contribute as an Associate member, but have no voting right.

We meet every Tuesday, 10:00 am at the Quality Resort, 3505 West Hwy 160.

The last Tuesday of the month will be an evening meeting to accommodate those that cannot make the morning meetings.  Location: Same as AM.  Time: 6:00 PM

All Veterans Welcome and Refreshments will be offered.

Our Mission

Vets for Vets of Archuleta COuntyMission:  Veterans for Veterans of Archuleta County is a 501 c (3) organization established exclusively for charitable purposes, more specifically:

  1. For veterans to help veterans.
  2. To provide financial assistance to veterans in need.
  3. To advocate for the veteran with the Veterans Administration.
  4. Provide information and experience resources.

We provide outreach to veterans in our community and assist in a variety of needs such as:

  1. Financial assistance.
  2. Assistance in accessing medical, dental and eye care.
  3. Housing assistance.
  4. Emotional assistance to help overcome the scars of war such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries and effects of Agent Orange.
  5. Help provide transportation to out-of town VA appointments.
  6. Hold weekly meetings providing the veteran with up to date information and a place for veterans so they can share information and fellowship.
  7. Help provide information and emotional support to family members of veterans.
  8. Ensure veterans receive access to the Veterans Administration (VA) benefits earned through their service in the armed forces.

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While speaking at the Raymond G. Murphy Veterans Medical Center in Albuquerque last week, I was encouraged to make contact with Veterans for Veterans in Pagosa Springs, CO, to share my story about intergenerational PTSD.  I received an enthusiastic response when contacting the group, and was made to feel welcome to attend and speak at their regularly scheduled Tuesday 10am meeting.  I came early to the meeting to get a feel for the group to help me with my initial interaction.  I immediately felt right at home with my brothers and sisters who have served America in the Armed Forces, especially the many members who served during the Vietnam War.

Before speaking to the group, I had a chance to  talk to several of the members before the meeting started and to listen to the formal discussion, including reports from the committees who work on community outreach, fund raising, VA updates and support, and programs to engage veterans with veterans.  There are now over 120 veteran members of this lively and active non-profit whose passionate work is devoted solely to Archuleta County veterans of all wars.

I immediately recognized the value of veterans forming their own group and taking ownership for helping each other in rural communities in particular.  I could feel the bonding, camaraderie and fellowship.  I was impressed with the quality of leadership on the board as well.  This is a group that is making a huge difference for veterans and their families close to home.  I have written about the value of veterans groups supported by local communities (click on link) to complete the circle of support starting with the transition to civilian life and the outgoing support needs once our veterans return home.  The Vets for Vets model is exactly the right solution and is showing results evidenced by the support and enthusiasm of the veterans who are members and volunteers.  I could not be more encouraged!

Clearly pumped up with enthusiasm, it came time for me to speak to the group.  Sharing my story by referencing the challenges of a post WWII and Korean War military family life during the 1950’s and early 1960’s, connected immediately with the close to 40 veterans attending this meeting, including spouses and family members.  There was one striking boomer aged lady in attendance who caught my attention because she appeared highly emotional as I talked about forgiving my father and mother once learning about how war comes home and can tear a family apart in life after war.  I also talked about the importance of forgiving ourselves first, paving the way to forgiving others and in making a difference for the greater good.  Trauma survivors have a tough time with forgiveness, especially forgiving yourself.  But we know now that the journey of healing in life after trauma is not possible until self-forgiveness is experienced.  

These are the heartfelt healing moments and experiences that come my way while helping others know more about moral injury and the intergenerational effects of PTSD on children and families of warriors.  Helping one person at a time encourages me everyday to keep on writing and speaking about life after trauma.   I hope to stay in touch with Veterans for Veterans in Pagosa Springs, and those who purchased my book and came up to chat with me privately following the meeting.

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…

 

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and 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 Healing Waters of Pagosa Springs, Colorado…and geothermal benefits to the community…

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San Juan River

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Pagosa Springs…Hot Springs Soaking

Pagosa Hot Springs…”Pagosah” means “Healing Waters”  quote from this website…

The Town of Pagosa Springs is a scenic community known for “healing waters”, our natural hot springs (“Pagosah” is a Southern Ute word for “healing waters”).

We are located thirty minutes west of the Continental Divide and Wolf Creek Ski Area.  Pagosa Springs is surrounded by the San Juan National Forest and Southern Ute Indian lands.  Many recreational activities are made possible by the San Juan River that flows through the heart of town.

We have myriad opportunities for hiking, fishing, all forms of skiing, hunting, four wheel drives, snowmobiling, and numerous scenic drives.  With an average of 300 days of sunshine and four definitive seasons, Pagosa Springs is an extraordinary place to live!

For more infomation on activites, events, restaurants and shopping visit the Pagosa Springs Town Tourism website.

Welcome to Pagosa Springs!  click on this site for more about recreational fun…

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Rafting on the San Juan River

Geothermal Benefits… Click on this reference site for those who need to know more…by  The Economic, Environmental, and Social Benefits of Geothermal Use in Colorado Liz Battocletti Bob Lawrence & Associates, Inc. July 2006

“Colorado has benefitted from its rich geothermal resources for centuries. Geothermal heat and hot water were used in the “Centennial State” long before it became a state in 1876. Native Americans valued the healing powers of hot springs often battling for possession. At various times, the Ute, Navajo, and U.S. Calvary all soaked in geothermal hot springs. Currently, geothermal heat or water is formally used in at least 30 resorts, small businesses, and communities across Colorado to heat pools and buildings, raise fish and alligators, and grow vegetables.” ***** We enjoyed 10 days in beautiful New Mexico, with several professional commitments in the mix.  We boomers were very ready for a good rest.   We picked the right place in Pagosa Springs, Colorado for 7 days of R&R.  This is our last day staying at the Wyndham Vacation Resort (click on link) before heading north to Moab to see the Arches (click on link).

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Wyndham Vacation Resort, Pagosa Springs, Colorado

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Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

Although our “bucket list” is still full of dreams of new places to visit, especially in North America, Judy and I have been most fortunate the last 8 years to have visited so many beautiful and stunning places for the first time.  And we always look forward to going back home to the Oregon Coast to continue exploring the many beaches and coastal areas we have not seen.  Just staying home in Little Whale Cove near Depoe Bay, Oregon is a treat all by itself.  We are looking forward to arriving back home next week .  In the meantime, we are in awe of the stunning and beautiful high mountain country in the Western USA.  Our travel adventures are always spiritual and keep us living in the moment to enjoy life to the fullest.  I feel so grateful to be able to enjoy all of this breath taking life experience with my best friend and soul mate, Judy…

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1, and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…

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Steve and Judy at Cannon Beach, Oregon in April 2014

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and 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

New Mexico…food for the soul like no other place!

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Taos Pueblo…”The Place of the Red Willows”

Taos Pueblo… Quote from this website article by World Heritage…

“Taos Pueblo, or Tau-Tah, the place of the Red Willows, is considered the longest continuously inhabited place in the United States, a village of about 150 full-time residents, with around 2,000 people living on Pueblo land.

This sign greets you as you enter the village:

Welcome To Taos Pueblo

The Red Willow People of Taos Pueblo welcome visitors as they have for over 1,000 years. To visit the living village is to walk into a sacred place where life continues from the earliest of human existence. Little has changed here in the high desert village. From the people to the pristine landscape, Taos Pueblo continues to enchant visitors old and new.”

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“Living in the moment” is at the center of New Mexico’s cultural and spiritual experience, starting with ancient Native American Heritage and connecting with modern America at our roots and soul.  The memorials, and tributes to the history of America’s warriors make a clear connection to the past and the present.  It would take a lifetime to capture the full depth and breadth of this beautiful land and diversified community that thrives on spirituality, healing, and the arts, connecting all of us as brothers and sisters.  

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Bataan Memorial Museum and Library

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Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

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Angel Fire Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial “Rose Garden”

The Bataan Memorial Museum  and Library “Honoring New Mexico’s Citizen-Soldiers since 1598” traces the origins of New Mexico’s National Guard back to the Spanish militia.  “When the Japanese captured 70,000 U.S. and Filipino soldiers in 1942, most of New Mexico’s national guard was among them. Released more than three years later, only half of the 1,800 men from New Mexico survived to return home. On exhibit are maps, press clippings and testimonials, along with Civil War artifacts and items connected to the codetalkers and other Native Americans who participated in U.S. wars.”  America’s first warriors are honored both at the many tribal cultural centers, including the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, and the memorials to veterans of all wars…New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial.  Angel Fire, New Mexico, nestled in the high mountain valley near Sante Fe, offers one of the most sacred memorials to Vietnam Veterans…The David Westphall Foundation, Vietnam Veterans Memorial

One of our most special experiences of spiritual healing in New Mexico was at Chimayo near Santa Fe.  Judy and I visited Chimayo in the fall of 2012 on an earlier visit.  I wrote about Chimayo, “A Special Place for Healing and Prayer.”  Click on my blog post…

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Chimayo

Our recent visit included  Glenn Green Galleries in Tesuque, New Mexico near Santa Fe, which captured our attention and provided even more New Mexican spiritual context from the many sculptures and works of art on display in the gallery and on the property.  Glenn Green, owner, shared stories of two notable artists,  Eduardo Oropeza and Khang Pham-New.  Please click on the referenced links to learn more about their life experiences and body of work…  The stories show the healing value and passion of artists who discover their natural gifts early in life.    Mr. Green tells the stories that bring the art and the artists to life.  Glenn’s passion for his own work as a collector of unique art is about the artists whose stories are as much a part of appreciating the power of healing as the finished sculptures and other works of art displayed in his gallery.

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Glenn Green Galleries

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Eduardo Oropeza

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Khang Pham-New

 

Judy and I couldn’t get enough of these special and unique spiritual venues during our visit to New Mexico.  Each sacred memorial, museum, and exhibit was special and moving to us in so many ways.  My own history as a Vietnam era US Navy veteran and post WWII military child has a much deeper heartfelt meaning than at anytime in my past.   Judy’s own history of her father’s WWII US Navy service provided her special meaning and legacy.  Judy’s history also includes knowing friends and loved ones who served in Vietnam, and some who did not come home.  We were both overwhelmed with emotion at times.  America’s connectedness to Native American Heritage and the bravery of tribal soldiers’ sacrifice in all wars of our past could not be better demonstrated than in the history of New Mexico and its people.  The people of New Mexico were most welcoming and gracious to us everywhere we visited.  Our recent extended visit to New Mexico was one of the most memorable, healing and spiritual experiences in our lifetime.  The best news is we are already planning a return visit!  Check out the reference websites and plan your own special visit…

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…

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Steve at Glenn Green Galleries, outdoors exhibit park…

 

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and 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

Maya Angelou on Forgiveness… Healing starts with forgiveness…

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Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey

 

Quotes of Forgiveness…  Quote from this website…”Do One Thing Quotes” 

“We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate — thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising.” 
 Maya Angelou

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Judy and I turned on the Maya Angelou Memorial Service this morning.  We were inspired by the many speakers, including Oprah Winfrey.  Oprah spoke of Maya in so many special ways as the “most wonderful women she has ever known.”  She also mentioned several times of Maya’s belief that forgiveness of self and others is paramount in living a full life in service to others…a life larger than self…  Only then can we experience our full potential as human beings…

During the last two weeks on our journey to New Mexico to participate in the opening of a museum dedicated to military families, book signings, visits to the memorials of veterans, and talks about children and families in life after trauma, the most important consistent discussion topic has been about forgiveness.  Before it was possible for me to move forward from the pain of a traumatic childhood experience, including learning about the secondary effects of trauma on the children and families of warriors, I was able to forgive myself.  Once learning that forgiving myself was a critical first step, I felt profound forgiveness for my father and mother.  I did not dismiss the abuse and emotional neglect experienced as a child, but embraced it as a way to move forward in my own life, and make a difference for others as part of my journey of healing.  My other favorite quote by Maya Angelou… “There is no greater agony than bearing the untold story inside of you” helps me each day to make the choice to continue on my journey.  I used this quote to help introduce my second book, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…

There was a time not too long ago that I felt that forgiving myself was impossible and not even appropriate.  Little did I know for so much of my adult life that the only way to forgive others, is to forgive yourself first.  Maya Angelou was also one of the greatest teachers on the planet and her legacy will live on forever…

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1, and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and 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 invited to speak about PTSD at Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center…June is PTSD Awareness Month…

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Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center 1501 San Pedro SE Albuquerque, NM 87108 505-265-1711 | 800-465-8262

Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center…click to learn more…

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Raymond G. Murphy, Medal of Honor Recipient, Korean War…

Healing Invisible Wounds…Quote from this link…

June is #PTSD Awareness Month

PTSD can occur after someone goes through trauma. Learn about PTSD. Connect with someone. Share how treatment can help. Make a difference today

 *****

It was a true honor to be invited by the Education Department at the Raymond G Murphy VA Medical Center, to speak about “Children & Families in Life After Trauma” to a group of clinical staff members on Monday June 2nd.  My talk and engaging conversation with staff was a way to make a difference by sharing my story of the challenges living in a post WWII and Korean War home as a military child.  It was also the first time since publishing my book and writing a blog to meet with mental health professionals to discuss the broader impact of intergenerational PTSD.

I talked about how ignorance on the part of families and civilian community hinders the process of readjustment and healing when warriors return home.  We discussed how children inhale the pain of parents and carry the baggage forward as adults.   The reality of eventually confronting and treating the symptoms of secondary and complex PTSD as a result of living in toxic home circumstances is evidenced by aging veterans and civilians receiving treatment in later years.  It is clear from my own experience that the scope of treatment for PTSD must include the family as a whole.

Most agree that we are just beginning to realize that mitigating the long term effects of PTSD symptoms must start very early, including education and support for children and families.  This approach has the potential to break the intergenerational cycle of pain.   As a nation, we must address the broader implications of PTSD for the family and society.

With the apparent damaging effects of intergenerational PTSD on the children of warriors, it is critical to provide ongoing treatment and services closer to home.   Once the VA transitions a veteran returning home from war to the journey of healing in life after trauma, local community resources must have the awareness and capacity to continue treatment not only for the warrior but for the family as a whole.  As a global American community we must step up to the lifelong family caregiving critical to achieving the goal of mitigating PTSD in society and future generations.  Treatment and caregiving for veterans of all wars does not start and end with the VA.  Local communities everywhere must take responsibility for the caregiving of our heroes and their families to win the battle of readjustment and healing at home.

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and 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

“Flame of Hope” Albuquerque – Honors Vietnam Veterans and POW’s…

FlameofHope

Flame of Hope – Albuquerque, New Mexico Eternal flame monument to all those who served in the Vietnam Conflict in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Flame of Hope…Albuquerque, New Mexico… QLong Description:
Eternal flame monument to all who served in the Vietnam Conflict. The plaque on the monument reads:

Flame of Hope

A flame burns on this spot and in the hearts of
the people of the state and nation as a reminder
of the sacrifices of those who have served in the
Vietnam Conflict.

The prisoners of war and those missing in action
in the conflict are not and shall not be forgotten
by their countrymen, their loved ones or their
comrades in arms. Our hopes and prayers for their
safe return burn as brightly as the flame above.

Those who have given their lives under the call of
their country are enshrined in our heart forever.

Presented and dedicated in deep appreciation
by the city of Albuquerque, the New Mexico
chapter of the American Fighter Pilots
Association and Concerned, Inc.

*****

Judy and I took our first morning walk in Albuquerque and came upon the referenced memorial to Vietnam Veterans.  Everywhere we go in Albuquerque, there are beautiful memorials to veterans of all wars to help us as a community to honor our heroes and heal from the overwhelming loss of lives and the on-going post war suffering.  The “Eternal Flame of Hope” is a highlight of this memorial and has special meaning to the children and families of warriors.  This memorial also honors POW’s and MIA’s, offering hope for their safe return home.

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my books, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… (Kindle $2.99), and 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

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