Monthly Archives: September 2014

How do we listen to others with our hearts? Tips to help us improve our listening skills…

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Listening with your heart!

 

Listening With Your Heart…  Quote from this website article from Charter for Compassion, a non-profit enterprise…

Leadership begins with listening. Usually we are so excited about speaking and expressing ourselves so explicitly that we do not even listen to the responses. When someone responds, our minds are so  busy and pre-occupied with our own thoughts that the inertia of motion of our thoughts overrides our listening capabilities. Inevitably, we miss out on vital clues inside the mind of our teams and this hampers the basic output or consequences.”

Pocahontas – Listen With Your Heart…  Click on video clip to get in the mood…

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I work with very passionate friends and colleagues who are excited all the time when we get together…  What are we excited about?  Building the best non-profit K-12 after-school program and business model on the planet at Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon!  And what is the biggest challenge for all of us during our meetings?  Well, the easy answer is “listening.”  All of us often start talking at once and coach each other at the same time to discipline our listening skills.  And after many years of excitement and passion, listening effectively is still a work in progress.  We are getting better all the time, and my bet is we will never be perfect.  But because we care about each other and the work we do with kids, we listen with our hearts.  As a team, we count on the meeting facilitator at that time to keep us all on track…  We believe “leadership begins with listening!”

Check out the listening tips provided in the link on this page above.  It is a good thing for all of us to be reminded often of the importance of improving listening skills, and do try to listen with empathy and from your heart…

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

 

Recognize the signs of domestic violence and abuse… Awareness is the first step in healing…

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Signs and Symptoms of Domestic Violence…”  click highlighted text for more…

“There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner.

Domestic Violence & Abuse Help Guide… Quote from this website article…

“Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following descriptions of abuse, reach out.” 

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When I write or talk about the subject of domestic violence and abuse, I get shivers and flashbacks of my own childhood and young adult experience.  One such memory is when my Dad freaked out when my brother and I came home with a jaywalking ticket while we were walking around Long Beach, California back in the early 1960’s.  I have a full brain catalog of painful childhood memories that seem to stick around forever.  In this case, and many others the memories are vivid.  My father exploded on many occasions when we were growing up for lots of small things.  Dad suffered severely from the emotional baggage of WWII and Korean War.  We were constantly in fear of him, and expected to be hit in the head on a moments notice and punished severely for things that were not always clear.  Mother would try to protect us but was mostly fearful of him too.

I carried all this emotional baggage with me for decades until finally discovering that talking and writing about it was actually healing.  These days in my later years in life I feel a peace of mind, especially since writing my first book and this blog.  This is my way of keeping the pain of the past at a safe distance.  My work in community service making a difference for children and families through my work with Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon keeps me firmly grounded.  My wife, Judy, is my best friend and soul mate, who provides loving support every day, is a huge factor in my journey of healing as well.  Once becoming aware of the circumstances of domestic violence and child abuse, you can begin your own journey of healing.  But it is a work in progress.  The memories of a painful past come back to haunt most trauma survivors unless we confront the demons head on…

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

 

Take a relaxing meditation break with “Enya.” Montage of nature’s beauty is wonderous and beautiful!

Enya…Only Time  Quote from this website…

Only Time” is a song composed and recorded by Irish singer Enya, first released in November 2000. The release of this single coincided with the release of the album A Day Without Rain. In 2001 “Only Time” was released again as a remix. The track was remixed by the Swiss American Federation (S.A.F.) (Christian B. and Marc Dold) with a final remix by Enya’s producer, Nicky Ryan. Enya donated the earnings from the sale of that single to the Uniform Firefighters Association’s Widows’ and Children’s Fund to help the families of fire fighters in the aftermath of 9/11.[1] The song was also featured in the soundtrack of the motion picture Sweet November. To date, “Only Time” is Enya’s biggest solo hit in the United States, where it peaked at #10 on the BillboardHot 100 chart[2] and #1 on the adult contemporary chart.[3]

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Enya…Only Time…  click on video music montage here…

Honor the widows’ and children left behind in the aftermath of 9/11.   Listen and see the beauty of both the music, singing, and wilderness montage of nature’s healing power.  The montage reminded me of many places Judy and I have been on walks and hikes through out the Pacific Northwest, including the Leavenworth, Wa. Fish Hatchery.

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

How are survivors affected by the constant news of NFL domestic violence and child abuse? Is this kind of stressful awareness and triggers of past emotional pain healthy?

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The Joyful Heart Foundation…A Message from Mariska… It all started for me when I began my work on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit over a decade ago. In my research for my role, I encountered statistics that shocked me: One in three women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. Every two minutes in the United States, someone is sexually assaulted. More than five children die every day in this country as a result of child abuse and neglect, and up to 15 million children witness domestic violence in their homes each year.

The Joyful Heart Foundation…  Quote from this website article…

“Families or individuals who have experienced domestic violence are in the process of healing both physically and emotionally from multiple traumas. These traumas can have various effects on the mind, body and spirit. It is natural to experience these, and acknowledging the effects can be an important first step in embarking on a process towards restoration and healing.

People who are exposed to domestic violence often experience physical, mental or spiritual shifts that can endure and worsen if they are not addressed. According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control, nearly three in every 10 women—about 32 million—and one in 10 men in the United States who experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner reported at least one measured impact or effect related to forms of violent behavior in that relationship.1

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I am a survivor of domestic violence and child abuse…a lifelong journey of healing is a work in progress…  I noticed this past two weeks with all the news and video clips pounding away at my mind, that my usually upbeat disposition was starting to change for the worse.  It became difficult for me to keep the images and feelings of past emotional pain at a safe distance.  The images of childhood traumatic experiences started to appear much more frequently and put me back in a depressed mental state.  Eventually my healing therapy and training kicked in and I started talking about my feelings with my wife and a close trusted friend.  This was the first step in getting back on track as indicated in the above quote, “ acknowledging the effects can be an important first step in embarking on a process towards restoration and healing.

My close and trusted friend, Byron Lewis, is also a student of NLP.   Byron has written several articles for this blog about NLP (click on highlighted text for more on these alternative treatment strategies for trauma victims) and the therapy value of practicing techniques that can be very effective.

Just today over coffee, Byron, reminded me of one such NLP technique that addresses the images of pain from past traumatic events so that they are not all consuming and powerful.  It works this way…  When the image appears or as soon as you become aware of the image, keep it pictured in your mind and focus on the experience.  Next then, if the image is moving, freeze the frame. If the image is in color, make the image black and white, then look away.  Once the image has changed, try moving to look at it from a different position as if it is projected on a screen. Practice this technique over and over again whenever the painful image appears…  The ultimate result is the image will no longer have power over your thought process…you are then back in control of the present mindfulness of living in the moment…

For me, the journey of healing from a traumatic past is always a work in progress.  Human connectedness, including support from family and friends is truly the best way to keep the emotional pain from the past at a safe distance.  Trying to remove the pain of these images with denial never works and it takes so much longer to heal.  Being proactive and completely aware of post trauma symptoms is the very first step in healing.   Good luck on your own journey of healing…

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

 

Trauma…Help Your Wounded Child Heal with Simple Alternative Treatements…

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“The Resilient Child” Article in New Zealand Listener…Quote

“This case aside, a growing body of research has established that cognitive problems are part of the bitter harvest of child maltreatment. Abuse, chaos, fear and neglect experienced for years in early childhood shape the very architecture of the brain, playing out in cognitive problems, anxiety, behaviour disorders and later addiction and mental illnesses. But if child abuse inflicts damage that is so fundamental and structural, is there really much hope it can be repaired? The short answer is yes,” says visiting child trauma expert Dr Bruce Perry, senior fellow of the Houston-based Child Trauma Academy, and adjunct professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Chicago’s Northwestern University. But using the right therapy at the right time is crucial, and difficult to gauge. What is becoming evident, though, is that some unexpected therapies – including movement, massage and yoga breathing – can be used to repair the most primal parts of the brain and help wounded children heal.

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All children, even those living in healthy and safe homes, are exposed to life changing traumatic events!  There are tragedies and traumatic events happening to families everyday all over the globe.  How do we help the wounded child heal? 

According to the full article in the Listener, it is the rare child who is not affected or damaged emotionally when experiencing maltreatment or abuse over an extended period of time.    What worries me the most, is that family members “move on” to the next traumatic event without stepping back to assess the damage and recover.  Maltreatment becomes part of the family culture over time…and often competitive with siblings abusing each other as well.  These kids from toxic homes like mine grow up and become emotionally challenged adults who eventually need help to save our hearts and souls from the lifetime pain of post trauma symptoms that look much like PTSD.  If parents and teachers could achieve more awareness of the consequences of trauma in children earlier and detect the early symptoms in youngsters, simple steps, including massage therapy and deep breathing, can help start the healing process much earlier.  But in most cases, parents who are abusive are also neglectful or completely unaware of the long term consequences of trauma on children.  In my case, growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s in a highly toxic home, the intensity of abuse and maltreatment was at times overwhelming and without relief through treatment.  My parents did not know or understand the consequences of their behaviors…they felt that children were always resilient…not so as we all know today.  

At the prime age of 68, I have mostly recovered from a toxic childhood and young adult life, but it is a work in progress to keep the pain of the past at a safe distance.  I waited until later in life to even recognize the symptoms of PTSD until researching and writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, helping me begin a long overdue journey of healing that saved my life.  Please help others become more aware of the consequences of child maltreatment and abuse…  Recognize the symptoms and take early action to help wounded children heal…

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

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Healing from Moral Injury…Context of Spirituality by Steve Sparks…

A Discussion of Moral Injury and Spiritual Context… Quote from this website article from the National Center for PTSD…click highlighted text for more…

Moral Injury in the Context of War

Shira Maguen, PhD and Brett Litz, PhD

What is moral injury?

Like psychological trauma, moral injury is a construct that describes extreme and unprecedented life experience including the harmful aftermath of exposure to such events. Events are considered morally injurious if they “transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations” (1). Thus, the key precondition for moral injury is an act of transgression, which shatters moral and ethical expectations that are rooted in religious or spiritual beliefs, or culture-based, organizational, and group-based rules about fairness, the value of life, and so forth.

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Comments by Steve Sparks posted in MILITARY MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS POST DEPLOYMENT FOR PROVIDERS, COMBAT VETERANS & THEIR FAMILIES 

“The context of spirituality is profoundly critical to a trauma victim…a case of right vs. wrong. Combat veterans are often morally injured or compromised while experiencing or engaged in hard combat. The post trauma symptoms of PTSD represent a normal reaction of the mind fighting against the horrors and inhuman circumstances of war…killing and carnage. Trauma victims can choose a path of healing by acknowledging the roots of moral injury with alternative treatment strategies sooner than later…awareness is the first step in healing. Denial of ones spiritual and moral reality as a human being will only keep the emotional pain bottled up inside revealing itself with the painful symptoms of PTSD…for a lifetime if not treated. The higher risk of denial is the adverse affect on the children and families of warriors…secondary and complex PTSD in loved ones living with a trauma victim or the case of intergenerational PTSD. The sad tragedy of the horrors of war on humans is how it damages the moral fabric of society for generations.”

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