“Confusing, isn’t it? Everyone has a different view about the careers you should follow, the relationships you should form and the dreams you should pursue. If you’re stuck,a personal mission statement can help. Mission statements are not just for companies, businesses and organizations.”
The 2016 New Year was a rough start for me and our family. You know, the old “pile-on” can happen at any age. During this time of serious soul searching, my therapist recommended a new personal mission statement. My first reaction was, “what a great idea!” Turning 70 in July 2016 gave me a sense of a new beginning, and major reset in the making, for our home and life in these later years. So, here goes… Take a look at my new mission statement and goals going forward. Hope this renewal effort in our life helps many others, including friends and family, think about the next chapter in life…
Following is my new Mission Statement…and goals…
Build a balanced quality of life focused around family and personal goals…including specific actions…
1. Joy, fun, happiness, and love of family and close friends.
2. Live in the moment with my wife and soul mate in pursuit of mutual interests, adventure, and romance.
3. Practice and experience renewed and stronger spiritual growth.
4. Focus on selective professional outlets consistent with passion for community service i.e., writing, public speaking and teaching.
5. Do not volunteer for community or public service connected with a fiduciary role.
6. Explore paid professional services opportunities as an advisor, educator, and leadership coach.
7. Sit down with my spouse on a regular basis (weekly) to review activities consistent with mutual goals.
As an author, blogger, and child advocate, my great passion in life during my retirement years is to help stop the stigma connected with mental health, especially as it relates to the painful tragedy of children growing up in toxic homes where parents suffer with post traumatic stress. Kids inhale the pain of parents and often suffer in silence while exposed to anger, depression, and anxiety over extended periods of time. Children make adjustments and are resilient, but eventually leave home carrying all the emotional baggage with them. Parents, mentors, and teachers can make a huge difference in mitigating the toxic circumstances and longer term emotional damage to children, by becoming sensitive to how youngsters are affected at very early ages. Family members often take on the same symptoms of post traumatic stress if exposed daily to a life of toxic behaviors from adults.
I advocate for children because my childhood was consumed by the challenges of growing up with parents who suffered severe emotional damage following WWII and Korean War. My awareness of the symptoms of PTSD was very limited for most of my adult life until deciding to confront my own demons when researching and writing my first book Reconciliation: A Son’s Story. We live in in world where generations of wars have torn apart families, leaving them ignorant of the long term damage of PTSD on children who carry forward the emotional pain and symptoms that can linger for a lifetime without treatment. It is never too late to break the cycle of pain and to begin the journey of healing. I waited until age 64, and now live with an high level of awareness, providing a peace of mind never before achieved. But treating the symptoms of PTSD and keeping the pain at a safe distance is a work in progress. For this reason, I continue to push forward making a difference for others by writing and speaking about post trauma stress, including the toxic circumstances and painful outcomes, which can be mitigated with open and honest communications. Stopping the stigma and denial of this painful and life threatening disease is the first step in healing. We now have the awareness and tools to provide “trauma informed care” and delivered at a local level to more quickly recognize mental health symptoms and identify alternative treatment strategies for those who suffer.
Please feel free to contact me with your questions and conversation. You can use my blog, author page, and purchase my books to learn more. My only disclaimer is that my background and experience is that of a trauma survivor who thrives…and not a mental health professional.
With best wishes for your good health and happiness…
Join us for this inaugural offering of a new Self-Publishing Workshop for Writers and Authors, led by Steve Sparks. This workshop is centered on the value of real-time learning and collaboration by students, facilitated by the instructor. Students will have ownership for group leadership, collaboration, preparation, actions, follow-up, and outcomes. The instructor will ensure that the class stays focused to achieve results, and learning outcomes students desire to achieve as a team. The instructor will provide broader leadership and professional input in a deliberate manner as a facilitator. The workshop will not be a lecture format. “My role as the instructor is listening and stimulating creative discussion and team work,” Sparks told OCCC. “The following would be an outline of the course, but would evolve based on the needs of the students.”
Passion fuels creativity, focus, discipline
Impact and value of technology in publishing world
Marketing tools and media savvy, the value proposition
Building a product to sell
Patience, innovation, trial and error
Your team is critical, family and friends
Networking and feedback, achieving critical mass
What’s next? Evolution of technologies
Local authors as guest speakers and contributors
I am so honored to have the opportunity to facilitate the upcoming Self-Publishing Workshop! Following 6 years of self-publishing as an author, and blogger to create awareness and promote my books, there is so much more to learn…a true labor of love and work in progress. We will experiment with this workshop as a team, fine tune it together, and make it a robust learning experience for all, including me. Please join us for this exciting opportunity to offer real-time learning at the grassroots level. The workshop will be highly engaging with individual and group participation…the students build on the topics and outcomes. Also thinking about a class project at the end of the quarter… Ask me more if you have an interest. Hurry! So far, there appears to be great enthusiasm for this type of workshop… Self publishing authors as guest speakers a plus!
See you all on March 28th, 530p-700p at the OCCC North Campus, Lincoln City, Oregon…
“We looked at a group of people who are at the cusp of adulthood and found much higher levels of PTSD in sexual orientation minorities compared with heterosexuals. We found that differences in PTSD by sexual orientation already exist by age 22. This is a critical point at which young adults are trying to finish college, establish careers, get jobs, maintain relationships, and establish a family,” said lead authorAndrea Roberts, research associate in HSPH’sDepartment of Society, Human Development, and Health. Previous studies by Roberts and her colleagues identified more PTSD symptoms in a group of sexual minorities aged 40-60. Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, “mostly heterosexuals,” and heterosexuals who have ever had a same-sex sex partner were found to be one-and-a-half to two times as likely to experience violent events, especially in childhood, than the general population and have double the risk of experiencing PTSD as a consequence. (See 2010 HSPH press release.)
“Traumatic events like active combat, child maltreatment, interpersonal violence, or unexpected death of a loved one can lead to PTSD, a mental illness which is characterized by distressing memories of the traumatic event, avoidance of objects, places, or people associated with the event, emotional numbing and an increased sense of vigilance. PTSD in turn can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and difficulties with relationships and employment if it goes untreated. The lifetime risk of PTSD in the general population is about 4% for men and 10% for women. Among sexual minority adults, the risk of PTSD is doubled – over 9% for men and 20% for women.”
I have great empathy and compassion for the often emotional challenges connected with the gay community. One of my closest life-long dear friends is a gay man, who survived the tragic early circumstances of HIV in the 1980’s and 1990’s. My friend, Jon, has lived through more painful and tragic trauma for decades than most. The worst part of his traumatic experience is to watch the slow and painful death of so many loved ones in his life. I have been through most of this with him as a loving and devoted battle buddy at work and as close friends. When there are tough times, I listen mostly with a loving and caring heart. In good times there is so much joy and fun times with Jon, who also worked with me as an outstanding colleague during my career. He has a heart as large as the moon, a work ethic that sets an example for the best of us, Jon models the best in all of us along with unmatched resilience to overcome the worst of emotional challenges. I love Jon as my brother, best friend, and colleague who has always been there for me and my family as we journey through life together.
I will address the LGBT community post-trauma stress topic in a most healing and loving way in my new workbook project, “I Worry About the Kids” to be published during the summer of 2016.
El Paso, Texas (CNN)Carlos Gutierrez says the Holy Spirit didn’t take hold of him until five years ago when three men took hold of his legs. Using an ax, the men proceeded to mutilate him, he said.
“The only thing I did at that moment was scream to God because I didn’t think I was going to survive. I screamed, ‘Forgive me! Lord, forgive me!’ ” Gutierrez told CNN from the courtyard of his Catholic church near his middle-class neighborhood in west El Paso.
It is often the case and misperception, when speaking to families about post-traumatic stress, that it is only combat veterans who experience the horrors of war that suffer from PTSD. Not so! My latest book project, “I Worry About the Kids,” is structured as a workbook for parents, teachers, and mentors to engage in identifying their own needs for PTSD awareness and how to help children, especially early childhood. So many families reach out and find it difficult to understand this topic, especially how it relates to their own family circumstances. My new book project provides a lay person or trauma survivor’s view and research that connects to families in a real way. Click on my website and author page to learn more…
Going from Distorted Thinking to Accurate Thinking
Once teens understand why they fall into thought holes and that several common ones exist, they are ready to start filling them in by trying a method we developed in theGoZen!anxiety relief program called the 3Cs:
Checkfor common thought holes
Collectevidence to paint an accurate picture
Challengethe original thoughts
The research underway for my new workbook project for parents, teachers, and mentors, requires activities and exercises at the end of each chapter. “I Worry About the Kids” will offer the reader and workshop attendees to think about their own circumstances and needs at home or school, and develop a plan of action. I like this idea of looking at “distorted thinking” and actively translating to “accurate thinking.” My goal is to find examples of actions and exercises that will help parents and teachers help kids deal with anxiety and depression in constructive and well received ways that make sense to children. Lecturing platitudes and making judgements that create negative energy and knock kids down, never worked from my experience as a child and as a parent. Take a look at this “accurate thinking” idea and tell me what you think. Other ideas are most welcome as we build the workbook product.
“A Pew Research Center report in April 2000 found that shortly after the shootings occurred 85 percent of Americans said it was the parents’ responsibility to prevent potential perpetrators from going on shooting rampages like the one at Columbine. Nine percent thought it was the school’s responsibility.”
At the center of what we know today after so many horrific and tragic mass shootings in schools over the years, is parents, teachers, and mentors can do more to prevent these terrible events with increased mental health awareness. The stigma of mental health often keeps parents and loved ones, including teachers, and mentors thinking and saying, “this child is demonstrating typical and normal behaviors.” Be careful, this rationalization could be dangerous and life threatening! Good rule is to take a second look and listen, learn much more about mental health 1st aid and trauma informed care.
“CAHOOTS was formed in 1989 as a collaborative project of White Bird Clinic and the city of Eugene public safety system to help address the needs of marginalized and alienated populations, specifically the homeless and those suffering from addiction or severe and persistent mental illness. Each team consists of a certified medic and a trained mental health crisis worker.”
The 90th Annual League of Oregon Cities Conference in Bend, Oregon
I was honored to represent the City of Depoe Bay at the 90th Annual League of Oregon Cities Conference in Bend, Oregon. This was one of the most robust learning opportunities for me since being elected City Councilor, Depoe Bay, Oregon. The focus of the conference was to show elected and non-elected officials from city government how to use resources effectively to build a 21st Century sustainable community. I write about the entire conference in in separate report in a pdf format with rich hyperlink references, which can be requested from www.cityofdepoebay.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much of the discussion during the Mental Health concurrent session referenced in this link, was about the need for “Trauma Informed Care” and different levels of response so that we are NOT sending citizens with mental health challenges directly to jail, and potentially making matters much worse. We are learning that there are essentially three levels of care evolving, and these include: 1. Education and Mental Health 1st Aid. 2. The “Cahoots” model in Eugene, Oregon, to help address the needs of marginalized and alienated populations. 3. Finally, the 911 Public Safety Emergency response, where it is apparent that lives are in danger. The three levels work collaboratively and successfully in many communities right now.
“In my experience, plus the 30 years my colleagues have worked in public schools, we have learned that student misbehavior and “acting out” are often indicators of trauma. Poverty, sexual abuse, domestic violence, parental drug use, incarceration, or mental illness are just some of the issues that contribute to traumatic experiences that have a profound impact on a child’s developing brain and body. Through our team’s professional experiences, and research supports our findings, we have found that children living in poor neighborhoods are more likely to suffer traumatic incidents, such as witnessing or being the victims of violence. They also struggle with pernicious daily stressors, including food or housing insecurity, living in overcrowded households with overworked or underemployed, and stressed-out parents.”
From my own experience as a trauma survivor, non-fiction author and blogger related to post trauma recovery, it is the early life of children during the years up to age 6, when we can have the most impact in helping the fabric of our society heal and mitigate the painful symptoms and damage of the effects of severe trauma, including life long mental health implications. But we must stop the stigma of mental health…“Mental Health and Stigma” by Graham C. L. Davey, PhD. The consequences of long term stigma and lack of awareness in our culture is life threatening and terribly dangerous as we have observed too many times over the years, including last week in Roseburg, Oregon when 9 innocent students and educators were killed at Umpqua Community College. Many others sustained severe injuries, and will no doubt suffer from post traumatic stress and need extended treatment to recover.
As a society we continue to be at risk at 1000’s of soft targets, including schools, movie theaters, open spaces, and in toxic homes, where mentally challenged and potentially dangerous citizens will hurt or kill innocent people. We can change this pattern going forward and some progress is apparent; but we must be more vigilant, compassionate, and empathetic as a society. We must talk about mental health in our schools, institutions of learning, and public places. We must be aggressive in teaching others mental health 1st aid, and trauma informed care. If we don’t become more serious and have the will to mitigate and treat the symptoms of mental health behaviors early, we stand by and wait for the next mass shooting or tragedy. Mental Health: “Can’t we do better?” I know we can!
“Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. Much the way smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse may contribute to virtually all types of mental illness.”
Just 17 years old, Claire went into sudden cardiac arrest during a volleyball game. Fortunately, through Project S.A.V.E., her school’s staff had been trained to use an automated external defibrillator (AED)—and saved her life. This Heart Month, we hope this video will inspire you to become CPR and AED certified. You could save a life. [Warning: Video contains graphic imagery.]
Quote from above FB post…
“By now, you’ve likely seen our video of a high school senior who suffered cardiac arrest on a volleyball court. In this blog post, the woman who administered the life-saving shock describes the intense 269 seconds between collapse and revival—and the key actions that saved a life.’
“This hits too close to home for my family and also one of my very close friends,Tonya Poston Woods. Our daughters grew up together & were always very active and involved in high school sports. By chance, within a year apart, we found out they both had CHD and had to have heart surgery. Crazy coincidence! Unimaginable to think what happened in this video could have easily been either one of our girls. February is heart awareness month & wanted to share this important message for parents & schools. Tough to watch.” #heartmom
Project S.A.V.E. was created to educate school systems and doctors about pediatric sudden cardiac arrest.
We hope to raise awareness about the frequency of sudden cardiac arrest, possible early warning signs and the need for a timely response.
Pediatric sudden cardiac death happens without warning.
The sudden loss of heart function affects 600 to 1,000 children and adolescents, in addition to 350,000 adults, every year in the United States.
During the past five school years, at least 15 students and 12 adults have died from probable sudden cardiac arrest in Georgia schools.
You can help save a life. Your donation to Project S.A.V.E. will help fund CPR and AED training materials used for HeartSafe certifications across the state.
Contact Richard Lamphier, R.N., Clinical Program Manager of Project S.A.V.E., at 404-785-7201 for more information.
Life stood still for weeks after we received the phone call from our Daughter, Bianca. We dropped everything, and left our life in Depoe Bay, Oregon for Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our beautiful loving and sweet granddaughter, Jordan, was having emergency heart surgery in a few days! We are very fortunate as a family to know today that Jordan is well and off to college to prepare for an exciting and profoundly meaningful life ahead! She will no doubt make a loving and spiritual difference for countless others. We are so thankful and blessed,.. We love you so much, Jordan!
Steve and Judy Sparks aka…
“Grandpo & Grandma Judy”
Please learn more about Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) by clicking on the highlighted text below the image above…