Monthly Archives: April 2015

Please Help Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon…overflow parking required by zoning laws…

 

GoFundMe…Neighbors for Kids overflow parking is required by City of Depoe Bay zoning.  Our 7600 sqft community education and recreation center needs additional parking to hold special events for children and families…and for earned income opportunities and fund raising…

A donation of any amount is most appreciated…Thank you!

Steve Sparks, Vice Chair, www.neighborsforkids.org

 

National Child Abuse Prevention Month of April…

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Never EVER speak to your children in a way that you wouldn’t want to be spoken to. No matter how irritated you get or exhausted you are…

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Pinwheels for Prevention…

 

Prevent Child Abuse…  Quote from this website…

Take action to support healthy child development and help prevent child abuse and neglect in both big ways and small. Whether you donate to Prevent Child Abuse America, participate in one of our fundraising events, or join us by contacting your local office, your contribution makes a difference.

What can you do right now? Anything you do to support kids and parents can help reduce the isolation and stress that often leads to abuse and neglect.

Be a friend to a parent you know. Ask how their children are doing. Draw on your own experiences to provide reassurance and support. If a parent seems to be struggling, offer to baby-sit or run errands, or just lend a friendly ear. Show you understand.

Be a friend to a child you know. Remember their names. Smile when you talk with them. Ask them about their day at school. Send them a card in the mail. Show you care.

Talk to your neighbors about looking out for one another’s children. Encourage a supportive spirit among parents in your apartment building or on your block. Show that you are involved.

Give your used clothing, furniture and toys for use by another family. This can help relieve the stress of financial burdens that parents sometimes take out on their kids.

Volunteer your time and money for programs in your community that support children and families, such as parent support groups, child care centers, and our state chapters and local Healthy Families America sites.

Advocate for public policies, innovative programs and issues that benefit children and families.

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The sad and crying little boy in the photo above reminded me vividly of the scary times during my own childhood during the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  Our family was torn apart by my father’s military experience during WWII and the Korean War.  As kids we lived in fear constantly.  We were scared of Dad because he was angry and often violent, especially when self medicated.  We were scared that Mom would be hurt, and worried that she was anxious and nervous all the time.   She yelled and screamed at us siblings as a daily norm…suggesting that we were at the root of all the trouble.  I think all of us wondered what it would be like to be happy and joyful…  We were at times afraid of each other because we became angry living in a highly toxic home circumstance…fighting with each other was a way to relieve stress and vent.  We couldn’t wait to get out of the house for school and play.  And we hated to come back home.

My description of our troubled family dynamic could be duplicated in thousands of homes in America at that time and today in the 21st Century.  The one thing different today that makes a difference is awareness, but we have a long way to go.  The stigma of mental health is strong motivation for children and families to be quiet about what happens at home, and suffer in silence.  Worse yet is that without mitigation or treatment all the emotional baggage sticks around with those who are abused for the next generation…the cycle of pain continues until the pattern of abuse is broken…

The best we can do to help abused children and stop the violence at home is to be vigilant.  As good Samaritans we must not ignore what we see as wrong doing.  All too often during my childhood, there was no place to go to be safe, no one to talk to, and worse we had the feeling no one else cared, even other relatives and family members…friends would stay away too.  Our teachers and coaches didn’t even know… We were silent for fear of the terrible consequences of telling anyone.

Heightened awareness today allows us to freely help as friends and neighbors, and a community as a whole.  Reporting is mandatory in schools and we are trained for intervention.  It is not difficult to recognize a child or a family needing help…  We can reach out and ask for help for ourselves and others in appropriate ways.  The trained mental health professionals and programs available are far more effective today than in the 20th Century.  By becoming educated and aware of child abuse and domestic violence, you can save the life of a child or even help an entire family receive the help needed to start the healing process.  Take a look at the references and resources provided in this blog post and get engaged in your own community doing your part to stop child abuse…

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, and purchase my book(s) as part of your awareness campaign and support in preventing child abuse and domestic violence…

A Golden Nugget of History from Whale Cove, Depoe Bay, Oregon…

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Big Whale Cove, as we Depoe Bay coastal residents call this beautiful and stunning beach, with a large Harbor Seal population.

 

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Whale Cove, south of Depoe Bay, Oregon, colorized aerial photograph

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The Jonucus Hondius map of 1589 of Drake’s New Albion cove

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Sir Francis Drake…Pirate click highlighted text for more…

 

Sir Francis Drake and Whale Cove…  Quote from website article written by Patrick Alexander, Oregon Coast Today…

New exhibit could re-write history of Sir Francis Drake’s epic voyage

By Patrick Alexander…Oregon Coast TODAY

“To the casual observer, Depoe Bay’s Whale Cove appears to be nothing more than yet another breathtakingly beautiful inlet of the type that appears every few miles along the Oregon Coast.  But to historical sleuth Bob Ward, the bay is a key part of a mystery involving English explorer Sir Francis Drake, a 16th-Century cover up and the true birthplace of the British Empire.  Ward’s theories are the subject of a new exhibit, “Drake in Oregon,” on display at the North Lincoln County Historical Museum in Lincoln City through the end of this year.  Drawing on 30 years of extensive research, the exhibit makes the case that Drake spent the summer of 1579 at anchor in Whale Cove rather than the bay north of San Francisco that now bears his name.”

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When Judy and I moved to the coast in 2005 with our beloved chocolate lab, Mocha, we had no idea we would discover Big Whale Cove, a secluded cove with difficult access so close to our new home.  We already felt lucky to find our very own community of Little Whale Cove just south of Depoe Bay situated on a high basalt plateau close to the coastline.  As a special amenity we have access to a smaller fresh water cove known as “Little Whale Cove.”  A small fresh water pond formed tens of thousands of years ago and transformed into a beach head that emptied into the ocean, therefore not considered a public beach by Oregon law.  During the winter Little Whale Cove is often almost completely flooded by the Pacific Ocean’s high tides and waves that pound the shore…not always accessible during big storms.  White foam often covers the entire cove during a major storm…

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Little Whale Cove, a fresh water outlet to the Pacific Ocean…just a short walk south over the hill is Big Whale Cove.

After 10 years of Oregon Coastal living near Depoe Bay, Judy and I still can’t get enough of the beauty of this region, especially the coastline near our home.  Every summer we head to Big Whale Cove as much as we can.  The Harbor Seals (click to see images) just off shore watch us very closely…we are transfixed by the staring creatures who believe we are intruders.  Our American ancestors were also intruders 5 centuries ago when arriving here for the first time and meeting the Siletz Tribal Community…who made their home on the shores of the Central Oregon Coast.  The Native American culture has a very special place in our hearts and coastal community.

Assuming the legend and story of Sir Francis Drake’s discovery of America at Whale Cove near Depoe Bay is accurate, we are proud to be part of the long history of this very unique coastal area that was home to the Siletz Native American Tribe in the beginning.  The Oregon Coast continues to have a strong Siletz Tribal population located further inland, who have been good neighbors and partners in community building and economic development.  Drake and his band of pirates enjoyed their first summer on this gorgeous and still secluded cove in 1579.  Judy and I are definitely going to visit the North Lincoln County Historical Museum to learn more after reading about Bob Ward’s research and exhibit in Oregon Coast Today…

Summer is right around the corner…  So the joy of spending lazy summer days at Big Whale Cove visiting our Harbor Seal friends, inspired me to get a head start by sharing my family’s special experience living on the Central Oregon Coast near Big Whale Cove next to Depoe Bay.  We feel so grateful and blessed to have found this special place to live out our dreams and aspirations…and to share with family and friends… Being part of the amazing history of the Oregon Coast, and imagining the delight of those before us relaxing and playing on this stunning beach with a view that never tires, makes the experience even more special…

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…

 

April…Child Abuse Awareness Month! “Let’s raise children who won’t have to recover from their childhoods.” ~Pam Leo

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“Stigma refers to negative attitudes (prejudice) and negative behavior (discrimination) towards people with substance use and mental health problems.” Chris Currie’s blog from HealthyPlace.com.

 

The Fear and Denial of Mental Health Stigma… Quote from this article from Heathlyplace.com

by Andrea Paquette  by Andrea Paquette

“Mental health stigma knows no bounds and is constantly on the move. It can catch you in the workplace or in the classroom. It can interfere with making friends and can even interfere with keeping friends. But since stigma has to begin with a negative attitude or prejudice, if we can lessen the prejudice, we should in theory be able to lessen the discrimination.

People fear what they don’t understand. And let’s face it, mental health has only recently begun to even be an acceptable topic of conversation. Unfortunately, for many, it is still a topic that sends shivers down spines but it doesn’t have to stay that way. By simply talking about it, we normalize it. I have a feeling that, eventually, people will start to understand.

I never told any friends, coworkers or even romantic partners that I had been hospitalized against my will for over four months for drug-induced psychosis. I never told them that I was once again hospitalized for several months for major depression. Why? Because of stigma.”

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Memories are still vivid of a painful childhood growing up in a toxic home.  I struggled and managed to thrive with the heavy burden of emotional baggage from the 1950’s and early 1960’s until much later in life.  Why did I wait so long to confront my past?  Fear and denial followed me from the very moment I learned in 1965 that a potential employer would not hire me because my U.S. Navy honorable discharge document (DD214) included a “code” indicating a less than stable mental health condition.  I was labeled a risk at age 20 and it scared the hell out of me!

I am grateful now later in life to have been able to move on with another company in the telecommunications business and enjoyed a very successful and exciting career.  I was able to complete my college education as well and eventually retired in 2002.  I wonder why any young person with a mental health diagnosis would ever reveal their condition or seek treatment…  Many of us who survive traumatic experiences in life, march on one day at a time for many years until we have the courage to start the process of healing or when it is safe.  I took the safe route until age 64, and it was indeed painful journey…

“Stigma is a self fulfilling prophecy,” they say…  It has been 4 years since publishing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  After all the research and writing on the subject of PTS/PTSD, including this blog with close to 800 postings offering tons of information about my own experience, references and resources with the goal to help others, the human condition of STIGMA leaves me stoned cold and in a quandary.  It is clear that we should all seek treatment immediately following a moral injury and living with the awful symptoms of depression and anxiety, including panic attacks.  But it would be dishonest for me to suggest to anyone who fears losing opportunities and dreams of career success, especially loving relationships and spiritual growth in life, to ever admit a mental health challenge.

I am still searching for the right answer to help younger people, especially those who served America in hard combat or as a first responder.  My prayer and hope is that someday, probably not in my lifetime, that our culture and society will see that stigma is something from our distant past.  I pray that the millions of children and families who suffer from mental illness will be treated without prejudice and will have no fear in seeking meaningful long term treatment and begin the journey of healing.  No human being should have to carry forward the burden of an invisible and life threatening mental illness to one generation and the next.  Lives are at risk while we come to terms with STIGMA…the Germanwings tragedy will haunt all of us forever.  Will the lessons learned lead us to healing as a human society and diversified cultures or will it reinforce the fear and denial connected with mental health STIGMA?

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…

 

A post WWII family's struggle with moral injury and PTSD

Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…A post WWII family’s struggle with moral injury and PTSD.

 

 

“Mommie, Why Is Daddy So Mad All The Time?” Children need to know it is not their fault?

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Steve Sparks, Age 10, 1956… “”Why is Dad so mad and angry all the time?”

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Why Is Dad So Mad… Click on the highlighted text to order this book or from my sidebar….

by Seth Kastle (Author)

 

“Why is Dad so Mad”  click on this ground breaking video clip right now…

‘Why Is Dad So Mad?’ Veteran Writes Book to Explain His PTSD to His Daughter

Quote from the video transcript…

“In “Why Is Dad So Mad?” a family of lions — representing the Kastle family — is battling to overcome the father lion’s PTSD. In the book’s colorful pages, the father lion is shown with a raging fire inside his chest. That image, and its message, made an impact on Kastle’s 6-year-old daughter, Raegan.”

“No matter what, when they’re mad or sad at you, they still love you,” explained Raegan, admiring her father’s book in her playroom. “There’s always a fire in his heart, but no matter what, I know there’s love.”

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When my buddy Byron called me to share his discovery of this new children’s book, I was excited!  Most books are written for adults, like my own non fiction publication, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…  For the first time since the 1950’s, during the most challenging times as a military child growing up with a father who suffered from the horrors and WWII and Korean War, I remembered vividly the question we all asked daily, “why is dad so mad and angry all the time?”

We never got an answer to that question while growing up.  But I remember asking the question out loud to my mother, brothers and sister just about every day and with self talk.  If I had known back then that Dad had a “fire in his chest” caused by exposure to the trauma of war, it would no doubt have been a blessing for the entire Sparks family.  But we did not know how to talk about it without being pushed back and asked to mind our own business.  Sometimes just asking the question made our parents even more anxious with angry outbursts and sometimes beatings to suggest it what wrong for us to ask questions.  I know we persisted and very much wanted to understand as children about the toxic circumstances in our home.  It was not until later in life that I took a leap of faith and started to find out on my own through research and writing my own book for adults to help us heal.

A book for children is a critical step in the right direction.  It is tough to talk about the subject of PTS/PTSD among ourselves as adults, let alone figuring out how to discuss this emotional subject with kids.  Just listening to the video of the child’s interaction with her father, reinforces the value of writing illustrated books for children on the subject of post trauma symptoms and treatment.  I can’t wait to get the book in my hands and start a campaign to write more books for kids that help see that parents who suffer from post trauma symptoms of anger and other scary behaviors still love their children and it is not the child’s fault.  I left home at age 17 with the perception that all the troubles in our home while growing up fell on my shoulders…a heavy burden of emotional baggage to carry forward…

It is so important to figure out creative ways to help kids understand that parental anger and rage is most often not the fault of children.  If we don’t make them aware consistently of this critical fact, they will certainly grow up believing that for some reason that the angry behaviors and outbursts, including physical and mental abuse, was a result of something the child perpetrated.

If children do not understand the roots of parental toxic behavior, especially if it is related to moral injury from hard combat experience or other traumatic life events, they will surely take the emotional baggage into adult life and potentially affect the lives of loved ones, including their own children.  The intergenerational effects of PTS/PTSD are very real.  I live with the symptoms of PTS every day of my life, but now have peace of mind after discovering the roots of my own family’s troubled post WWII circumstances of life after war.

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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Reconciliation: A Son’s Story by Steve Sparks, Signalman Publishing, November 2011…Click on the highlighted text to order book.

Music for the Soul…Take a break and be mindful of the need for balance…

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Oceanside, California…a perfect spiritual moment captured by Judy Sparks in October 2014…

 

Healing Music for the Soul…Spiritual Awakening…  Click on the highlighted music clip to the left… Crystals Healing…Energy Healing at a whole new level…

“Crystal Healing is the art of using and placing specific crystals in the right places to achieve a desired result.  Crystal healing can help with headaches, difficulty sleeping, lack of energy, lack of libido, lack of concentration, healing the mind and more.”

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There are many choices to take a spiritual break and become mindful of the beauty of nature and the healing power of music.  Each opportunity to fly away for a moment to a happy place can happen anytime and anywhere…  When I feel overwhelmed or begin to question my priorities in life…it is time to regain some balance…  Mindfulness of my own spirituality while taking a spontaneous break, listening to the music of healing or a walk on the beach hearing the waves pounding the shore and birds singing helps me greatly to appreciate the wonders of life in the moment…a special treat.  I can usually bounce back, feel and see a more grounded perspective.  Sometimes taking one moment at a time to feel the energy of life brings me back to reality and the joy of living each and every day.  I do this best with my soul mate close to me…

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…