“The Fogarty Beach Vortex” from Mindfulness Meditation Creations…

“The Fogarty Vortex” from Mindfulness Meditation Creations, Little Whale Cove, Oregon… https://survivethriveptsd.org/2012/06/the-vortex-experience-of-spirit-and-soul/
Forgaty Beach State Park https://stateparks.oregon.gov/index.cfm?do=park.profile&parkId=158

“Spirit and Soul”

http://www.ofspiritandsoul.com/earth%20vortices/vortices.html

“Vortices⁸ are high energy spots on the Earth. Earth energy is due to its electromagnetic field. NASA research has proved that the human energy field is tuned in to certain ‘Earth Waves’. (See section Energies) The joining on the surface of the Earth are ‘hot spots’ of energy focus which we know as the vortices of the Earth, these are linked by ley lines. A Ley line is an energy line, some being of more importance than others.”

The Fogarty Vortex

I felt overcome by the ‘spirits’ coming from the mountains to the sea last Friday when walking the trail to Fogarty Beach near Depoe Bay by the sea. This overwhelming feeling of God’s presence is a big part of my spiritual life on the coast, in the mountains, rivers, oceans, and by the sea…

I live in a Vortex by the sea. I see and feel God with nature as the seabirds fly above and the salty cool air fills my lungs. I breathe and breathe while my soul is filled with joy and peace by the sea…

Fogarty Beach pulls me closer to the shore where I can see life touch my my soul and God too. I start to see millions of years of nature’s imagination and the sculptures of stunning beauty and dream of things yet to be realized.

The Fogarty Beach Vortex. Do you feel it?

I dream again and again as I look across the ocean to west as the sun sets on the horizon. This is not of man. It is God that rules here by the sea…

The Fogarty Vortex brings earth’s energy into these magical places. These moments of heavenly feelings of love of my home by the sea, take me away to far off places, I can only imagine and dream…

I look and see tiny driftwood pieces. I look again and see the shapes and wonder where, when, how, and why. It can only be God, a higher power, I imagine again. This is not of man, I know now…

It is only nature and God’s presence that gives me peace and love by the sea. I see the sea birds fly, swim and roam the the beach close to me. They look at me with peace and love in their eyes…

I feel the spirits overwhelm my heart and soul. It is here, by the sea, where my body and mind feels whole. There can be no evil or hate here by the sea. There is only love here by the sea.

You can find your Fogarty Vortex anywhere you can see and feel love and not hate. It only love that makes me alive and whole by the sea…

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate…and aspiring artisan.
“Fogarty” by the sea…

“Scarlett” My Greatest Gift!

“Scarlett ” My Greatest Gift!
“Scarlett ” looks into my soul.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10215553875280491&id=1848131331 Laura’s favorite quote. I love it too!

Laura Burkett Sparks and “Annie” https://survivethriveptsd.org/2021/03/annie-goes-home-to-a-new-mom-and-loving-home/

Scarlett saved my life! The hungry black bear was on the steps of the porch of the old house looking for a snack or two…

The black bear with cubs in tow, stopped in her tracks when Scarlett looked at her with those eyes that looked into souls.

Scarlett blocked the door so I wouldn’t go out. She knew protecting me was her life’s duty to me…

When I got stuck on the trail, Scarlett pulled me up the steep and slippery slope, never in fear when she was at my side on the high mountain trails…

I was so very depressed in 2009 when she saved my life again…

I was suicidal, confused and frightened sometimes. Scarlett would howl with love in her heart while I cried in the night…

Scarlett would lay her head on my lap and look up at me with her beautiful blue eyes like she was telling me, “I have your back Mom, forever.”

Scarlett is Siberian Husky. She is a pure bred, the most intelligent and loving furry loved one I could imagine…

Scarlett’s love is unconditional with the purest of loyalty, kindness and love for me. I wouldn’t be here if not for her loving and watchful eyes that see my soul…

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_Fire_(2018)

The big fire was the truest test of Scarlett’s love we could have ever imagined. She saved my life again, and my family’s too…

Scarlett is the greatest gift I ever received. My love for her is from deep in my soul…

Laura Burkett Sparks

                           About the Siberian Husky

The graceful, medium-sized Siberian Husky’s almond-shaped eyes can be either brown or blue—and sometimes one of each—and convey a keen but amiable and even mischievous expression. Quick and nimble-footed, Siberians are known for their powerful but seemingly effortless gait.

As born pack dogs, Siberians enjoy family life and get on well with other dogs; their innate friendliness render them indifferent watchdogs. This breed is also energetic and can’t resist chasing small animals, so secure running room is a must.”

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate…and aspiring artisan.

Seabirds Returning to Oregon Islands Refuge…

“Seabirds are already returning to Oregon Islands Refuge for the summer breeding season. Keep your eyes peeled for the lanky Cormorants atop nearby islands, rafts of Common Murres floating in the surf, and the feathery flapping footballs that are the Tufted Puffins. A number of Puffins have already been spotted around both Pacific City’s and Cannon Beach’s Haystack Rocks this year. Head to the Haystacks early in the morning to take a look at the earlybirds.”

Photos by Ram Papish

https://www.fws.gov/refuge/oregon_islands/

Spanning the Oregon coast, the wilderness islands and windswept headlands of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge are celebrated for their abundant wildlife and rugged grandeur. Rocky islands and sheer cliffs provide isolated breeding and resting habitat for diverse communities of birds, marine mammals, and plants along the wave-battered coastline. 

My days are most rewarded from learning more mystery, magic and stunning beauty of the Oregon Coast. I literally can’t get enough of this delicious and delightful soul food by the sea…

I learn new things each and every day. Living in the moment allows me to be completely captivated by this dreamy life by the sea…

Yeah! Breathing the fresh clean air from the sea is mindful and healing all day long, if my mind can dream, not fret. The seabirds bring new life to the coast in the spring, just in time…

Seabirds bring us more love and kindness too. After all, it’s springtime on the coast. We need more love and kindness than ever before…

Spring is here when the seabirds arrive at Oregon Islands National Refuge. It’s time once again to be thankful for our blessings in this beautiful land by the sea…

I see brighter days ahead! I see pink SeaThrift blooms and seabirds flying together, through the winds that heal us, by the sea…

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate…and aspiring artisan.

“When We Are Kind to Others, We are Happier” by Jill Suttle

Jill Suttie https://www.mindful.org/author/jill-suttie/

How Kindness Fits Into a Happy Life
A new analysis of decades of research shows that when we are kind to others, we are healthier and happier.
THE GREATER GOOD MAGAZINE

BY JILL SUTTIE | FEBRUARY 17, 2021

We all know that it’s good to be kind to others. Kindness is an important virtue for sustaining relationships, which helps to build a trusting and cooperative society.

You may have also heard that kindness makes you happier and healthier. But what does that mean for you? What acts of kindness will make us happiest, and who tends to benefit the most?
A newly published review of decades of kindness research provides some answers.

In this paper, researchers analyzed the results from 126 research articles looking at almost 200,000 participants from around the world. The studies they chose all had to meet certain criteria, such as including only adults and reporting good statistical data; some were experiments, where people did a kindness practice to observe its effects, while others just surveyed people about how kind and happy they were. The studies measured well-being in a variety of ways, including both mental and physical health.

As expected, people who were kind tended to have higher well-being. Lead researcher Bryant Hui was surprised the relationship was not stronger than it was, but he was still encouraged by the results.

“Although the overall relationship between prosocial (kind and helpful) behavior and well-being is weak, given that so many people around the world act prosocially, the modest effect can still have a significant impact at a societal level,” he says.
A small effect like this—an average of all the participants’ experiences—can sometimes hide other patterns going on below the surface. So, he and his colleagues considered when kindness might have a bigger impact on our well-being.

One thing they found was that people who performed random, informal acts of kindness, like bringing a meal to a grieving friend, tended to be happier than people who performed more formal acts of kindness, like volunteering in a soup kitchen. It’s possible that informal helping may fill our more basic psychological needs for autonomy and close relationships, which is why it could lead to greater happiness.

The researchers also found that people who were kind tended to be higher in “eudaimonic happiness” (a sense of meaning and purpose in life) more than “hedonic happiness” (a sense of pleasure and comfort). Perhaps this makes sense, given that being kind involves effort, which takes away from comfort but could make people feel better about themselves and their abilities, which would provide a sense of meaning.

Being kind came with greater eudaimonic happiness for women than for men, too. According to Hui, this could be because, in many cultures, women are expected to be kinder than men; so, they may have more to gain from it. And younger participants experienced more happiness when they were kind than older participants, perhaps for developmental reasons, he says. Younger adults are at a stage of life where they tend to be figuring out their identity and actively seeking the purpose and meaning in life that kindness can bring, less so than pleasure and comfort.

What other, specific benefits might kindness have? The researchers found that people who were kind tended to have higher self-esteem and a sense of self-efficacy. To a lesser degree, they also experienced less depression and anxiety and improved physical health—with the links to health being strongest in older adults.
Hui doesn’t know for sure why acting kind might have these different effects on different groups, but he points to theories put forth by researcher Elizabeth Midlarsky: Being kind may make us feel better about ourselves as a person or about the meaning of our lives, confirm our self-competence, distract us from our own troubles and stressors, give us a warm-glow feeling, or help us be more socially connected with others. All of these could potentially improve our well-being—reducing our stress, improving our mood, or providing community—and they could hold more importance at different stages of life, too.

By understanding the connection between kindness and well-being, Hui thinks researchers can design better studies that take into account all of the relevant factors, and innovators could create more effective kindness practices. In the future, he hopes there will be kindness apps or online programs that could reach more people, generating a larger impact around the world.

In the meantime, Hui says, the biggest take-home from his research is something he heard the Dalai Lama say long ago: “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

“Helping others is a universal virtue and a very affordable and economic way to benefit others’ and our own well-being,” he says. “As the saying goes, helping others is helping yourself.”

“Mindfulness Meditation Moments” by Steve Sparks
Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate…and aspiring artisan.

‘A Soul Lost to War’…Vernon H Sparks US Navy 1936-1966

Research from Vernon H. Sparks Naval records 1936-1960 

September 2019 a working DRAFT

Department of the Navy, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Washington D.C. 

Vernon H. Sparks, BMC, 328 41 29, USNFR-F6, May 1, 1966…30 years of honorable service 

By Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate… 

This body of work is described as a deep dive chronology of my father’s service to America. He was among the “The Greatest Generation” of the men, women, and families who served in WWII and Korean War.

I received Dad’s military records, including medical, in February 2011 and used as a reference for writing my first book, Reconciliation a Son’s Story, published by Signalman Publishing in November 2011.

My goal is to accurately portray the trajectory of Dad’s Naval Service to show the tragic effects of too many years of hard combat deployments on this man, his family, and the intergeneration impact on all of us as a family.

There are too many stories from all wars just like Vernon’s, where the emotional damage of war comes home to the kitchen table.

Without adequate and consistent life-long treatment of symptoms of PTSD, including lingering and painful untreated depression, take a huge toll on the lives of so many military families over several generations until the cycle of pain ends.

In the Sparks family, we now heal as a family, the pain stops with us…no more! As a family legacy we desire that others benefit from the awareness that has provided a foundation for healing decades of emotional trauma and strife as a military family.

How did we survive and thrive growing up in a profoundly dysfunctional home and finally face our own mental health challenges and demons as kids and adults? 

Bos’n Sparks Ship Log 1936-1958, A Soul Lost to War… 

Click each photo to learn more… 

2 Vernon H. Sparks received a temporary appointment of Warrant Chief Boatswain’s Mate (BMC) in 1943 when the USS Belle Grove (LSD2) was commissioned on August 9, 1943 for duty in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. Dad loved to blow the Bos’n Whistle when we were kids in the 1950s to get us out of the rack early. Dad loved the Navy and serving America. He made Bos’n 1st Class in 1941 following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. To begin this chronology, following is my father’s first account of his experience aboard the USS West Virginia (BB48) on that fateful day, December 7, 1941. Vernon was a highly decorated US Navy veteran. Vernon earned the following recognitions and medals shown above: 

WWII Victory, Philippine Liberation, Asiatic Pacific (with 1 silver star and 1 bronze star appurtenance), American Defense (with 1 bronze star appurtenance), American Campaign, Good Conduct (with 3 bronze star appurtenance), Korean Service, China Service, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation (Navy). 

National Park Service 

Survivor Questionnaire – Persons Present December 7, 1941, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii 

Vernon H. Sparks, US Navy, Battleship USS West Virginia, Coxswain 

Hometown: St. Paul, Mn 

Brief Account of What Happened to You Before, During, & After the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor. 

I was on the 3rd deck heading for the anchor windless room when the first torpedo hit the USS West Virginia. From there, more bombing and torpedoes- when all hell broke loose. Men in the brig were screaming for help. I could not respond, there was no time…to check where the Marine guard was with the keys to the cells. Evidently, he had already been hit. The men in the brig were engulfed in water and perished. I worked my way up to the 2nd deck with water up to my waist. By this time, I came to a hatch with the manhole still open leading to the main deck. I barely made it out of the escape hatch and was 

3 ordered by Lt. Stark to close that hatch. The men were still down there but it was too late for them. That was the first time I heard that the Japs were attacking our fleet…and the whole island. I watched one of my best shipmates get himself killed-Roy Powers. He stuck his head out the portside close to the ship-fitters shop; and about that time another torpedo hit, and the concussion blew his head off. His body fell back on deck headless. After that it was a matter of surviving. There was no defense, the ship was already listing to port at about 35 degrees angle. I worked myself up further on the deck and observed the Commanding Officer, Captain Mervyn S. Bennion heading for the bridge. The strafing and bombing were still on. When I arrived on the main deck going forward to the number one turret…strafing still going on…I dived under the overhang of the turret. Communications was out, so by word of mouth heard the order, “all hands abandon ship.” Note: Capt. Bennion was lying on the wing of the bridge mortally wounded…He asked the doc, “What kind of chance he had?” And was told, “Not much Captain.” Then, Captain Bennion said, “Leave me on the bridge and this is my last order, ALL HANDS ABANDON SHIP!” He died right after that order… After that order I jumped over the side to starboard and swam to Ford Island…Us guys that made it were standing on the beach watching the USS Arizona blow up sky high…what a helpless feeling. I had torn my white uniform up to use as emergency treatment bandages for the wounded. Anyway, to make a long story short, we dashed across the field under strafing conditions to shelter. In the BOQ, we were able shower in there and salvage clothes from the lockers and helped organize the Harbor Patrol. And was with that duty for a few months – then assigned to new construction with the 5th Amphibious Force hitting the beaches of the South Pacific, all the way, then finally Iwo Jima, & Okinawa until the Peace Treaty was signed aboard the USS Missouri in Toyko, Japan. People like myself could go on & on…but that would take a book… 

Vernon H. Sparks, December 7, 1941, Battleship USS West Virginia 

From Ship’s Crew Muster: 

Sparks, Vernon H. 328-41-29 Cox. 13 Jan. 36 10/12/39 

4 In the 3 photos above… Vernon with friends, and fellow shipmates at the Owl Bar, Manila; on island patrols 600 miles south of Manila c1938-39…Vernon, as a coxswain on the tiller. Vernon’s first shipboard duty 1936, full steam ahead USS Tennessee, click photo for more. 

Vernon was born in Eldred, Mn on December 10, 1918. He spent his childhood growing up in St. Paul, Mn.

Following a challenging time growing up during the Great Depression, he joined the Navy in December 1935 at age 17. Dad wanted to “join the Navy and see the world” as did countless men from that time before WWII.

He graduated from Naval Training Center, Bootcamp, USNTC, San Diego, Ca on June 6, 1936. Vernon’s first duty station was the USS Tennessee (BB43) in March, 1937.

This was the beginning of a story of one man’s journey of honor and duty to country and family. But this is also an all American story of a lifetime of emotional pain. Too many years of sea duty and hard combat changed his life forever, especially decades of painful family dynamics caused by the trauma of war.

The Tennessee sailed to the South Pacific from Bremerton, Wa in March 1937. Vernon became a larger than life coxswain during those early years of fighting in the South China Sea leading up to WWII and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Vernon, according to his medical records, served a total of “66 months” of combat duty for 22 year US Navy career. 

5 Abstract of Service by Ship and Station: 

USNTC San Diego January 13, 1936 recruit training. Vernon lived at 581 Selby Ave., St. Paul, Mn before joining the Navy. Click here… 

USS Tennessee (BB43), June 6, 1936 to March 16, 1937. Vernon dislocated his shoulder on the get go the first time in July 1936 while carrying a box of spuds aboard ship. He lived for most of his adult life with shoulder challenges. Vernon loved basketball and swimming. 

USS Henderson (DD785), April 23, 1937 to September 3, 1937, then back to USS Tennessee 

USS Blackhawk (AD9), October 29, 1937 to July 1938 (Vernon made Seaman 1st Class Feb 16, 1938). He was instructed in the use of Gas Mask and put through Gas Chamber a Navy Yard, Cavite, P.I. Dec20 1937. 

Naval Hospital, Puget Sound Washington, March 16, 1937 to April 23, 1937 

USS Sacramento (PG-19), July 18, 1938 to December 14, 1938 

USS Augusta (CA-31), December 1938 

US Naval Hospital, Canacao, P. I. for treatment January 16, 1939 (6/5/39 on sick list due to own misconduct.) 

USS West Virginia (BB48), October 12, 1939 to December 7, 1941 (one offense of AOL from 0730 on 10/23/39 until 0815 on 10/24/39, confined for 8 days, and loss of pay one month $14. Addresses for family during this surreal and painful period 1941 to 1945; 1351 Lime Ave., Long Beach, Ca; 1501 Scott St., San Francisco, Ca from the left; Jerry, Mom Marcella, Steve as baby, Dad Vernon summer 1946. 

USS Relief (AH1), December 11, 1939 to December 29, 1939 for medical treatment. Vernon was injured in an altercation on his birthday, December 10th while on liberty from the USS West Virginia. He was apparently clubbed in the head, sustained a serious head wound. 

Section Base, Bishop Point, Harbor Patrol, 14th Naval District, Pearl Harbor, Oahu December 30, 1941 to April 6, 1943. AWOL from 2000, 2 July 1942 to 0600, 3 July 1942, 10 hours. Tried on July 6, 1942 and confined for a period of twenty (20) days and $20/month loss of pay for a period of four (4) months per Deck Court- Martial. On April 2, 1943, he was appointed BM1st class. On September 30, 1942, JAG remitted entirely that part of the sentence involving confinement because he “PARTICIPATED IN THE BATTLE OF PEARL HARBOR ON DECEMBER 7, 1941.” 

USS Belle Grove (LSD2), August 9, 1943 to June 2, 1945 Crossed the 180th Meridian with permission of the Golden Dragon Lat. 14 degrees 10’ N., on 20 January 1944. August 9, 1943 recommended for appointment as Warrant Boatswain (temporary). He Participated in the bombardment and capture of Iwo Jima Island March 20, 1945. He was authorized to wear the 

Philippine Liberation Ribbon with two Bronze Stars ICW ALNAV 64-45. 

On May 9, 1945, Vernon was recommended for appointment to 

rank of Warrant Boatswain. 

US Naval Hospital, Shoemaker, Ca July 23, 1945 to September 4, 1945, post WWII “battle fatigue” (PTSD) treatment and recovery, convalescence. KoreanWar period…The Sparks Clan; from the left, Uncle Ronnie, Vernon, Grandma Mildred, Grandpa Art, Aunt Juneth, & Aunt Dolly. Sparks home St Paul 50s…1608 Van Buren Ave, St Paul, MN 55104 

7 USN Cargo Handling Group No. 1 Oakland, Ca Sept 17, 1945 to November 28, 1945 

USNH Treasure Island, December 10, 1946 for treatment. 

USS Topeka (CL-67), June 17, 1947 

US Naval Hospital, Long Beach Ca July 1947 to Sept 1947, recurring “battle fatigue” symptoms. 

USS Astoria (CA-73) November 6, 1947 (less than month) 

USS St. Paul (CA-73), December 8, 1947 

USNTC San Diego February 25, 1948 to August 24, 1951, recruit training, bootcamp commander 

company 255. 6605 Kelly St, San Diego, CA 92111 

USS Weiss (APB-135) September 7, 1951 to August 16, 1952 (transferred to US Naval Hospital, Yokosuka, Japan for treatment) 

US Naval Hospital, Yokosuka, Japan September 17, 1952 

8 USS Skagit (AKA105), September 30, 1952 to March 19, 1953 

USS LSM(R)-401 March 29, 1953 to June 22, 1953 

USS Andromeda (AK-15), June 22, 1953 to January 25, 1954… 

Dan helped me remember this apparently fun Sunday event of dinner on the ship as a family and hanging out, learning…2804 Gearing Dr, San Diego, CA; 4632 Hawley Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116; 6605 Kelly St, San Diego, CA 92111 

US Naval Hospital San Diego, February 24, 1954 to April 21, 1954 (84 days in hospital) 

In transit status, April 21 to April 28, 1954 

Conus/Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB1) June 30, 1954 to August 2, 1954 

USNTC Great Lakes, September 30, 1954 to June 23, 1955. Vernon re-enlisted for the last time on June 16, 1955. Sister Laura born March 1955 in photo with Marcella and Vernon. 2621 Iroquois Rd, Waukegan, IL 60087 

For the record, his tattoos were noted as the following. 

“Tattoo’s Eagle “USN, USS Tennessee 1935” right forearm, “Honolulu, Manila, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Yokohama” right inner forearm, Girl “USS Sacramento, Asiatic Station 1937-1939 left inner forearm. Sister Laura was born on March 10, 1955.” 

USS Chowanoc (ATF100) Oct 23, 1957 (less than 90 days) 

Construction Battalion #1 

Released from active duty on November 5, 1957. Placed on the retired list of the US Navy from the Fleet Reserve effective October 1, 1965. 

Family home addresses post Navy; 18228 Mettler Ave, Carson, CA 90746; 1249 W Anaheim St, Harbor City, CA 90710 

9 Notes: 

1. Vernon’s final Navy performance rating was 3.980/4.0. Dad was an outstanding 

professional! BMC to BMGC (master chief?) promotion in 1957. 2. Awarded High School GED by St. Paul Public Schools, December 28, 1953 3. Final post retirement medical treatment at US Naval Hospital, Long Beach, Ca. It appears Vernon was under great stress and pain during this time. He was never free from anxiety and depression from PTSD that lingered for a lifetime. He also cut a tendon in “right ring finger” and knee sprain from an accident at home. We lived at 22907 Meyler St., Torrance, Ca. As a family. I recall much chaos and strife at that time on our family as a whole. It was an unmitigated disaster, a completely broken family dynamic. No family should ever live this way, ever…never…no way!

There were absolutely no behavioral health care services for combat veterans except a short stay in Naval hospitals to detox, often for months before returning to duty. Dad knew he had to stay in the Navy to receive the health care he needed desparately when he fell off the wagon. Dad needed a ‘continuum of care’ that only existed in the safety of a US Naval hospital anywhere on the planet. The Navy was Dad’s rock. He struggled so much and none of us knew it. The typical response was, “we don’t talk about stuff like that.” Vernon survived and thrived with serious mental illness and addiction without any clue of how to effectively manage or mitigate his serious mental health problems. Our mother, Marcella, was very sick too, and suffered from acute depression all of her life as well. The post WWII Sparks family was only one example of 1000’s of families during that fateful period that took the war home to the kitchen table. The war never ended in June of 1945 when he came home, it was never over in his mind.

10 

5. Vernon joined the Federal Bureau of Prisons when he retired from the US Navy and stayed for 18 years, finally retiring again. But he worked as a consultant for faith community half-way houses in Tacoma, Wa for several years until retiring for good. Vernon served America for more than 40 years!

6. A sign of the times…Vernon completed a radiological training course.

“Scooter” The Surf Duude…

“Surf scoter ‘Melanitta perspicillata’ There were at least a dozen of them fishing yesterday. Yaquina Bay Estuary by the Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport Oregon” Cecelia E Kennedy

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/surf-scoter

“Scooter” loves to dive deep and fast. He is propelled by perfectly shaped feet, made for diving and foraging favorite treats…

Scooter’s wings, half-opened, push his body very fast and deep like surfers do. He sees his favorite mollusks, crustaceans, insects, small fishes, and worms served up to his delight…

Scooter eats salad first. Pondweeds, sedges, and crowberries are prepared in advance and served up on a shell…

Scooter’s little ones follow close by while mom watches from above. The little ones make for a perfect snack if they stray…

Scooters little ones leave the nest and go surfing soon. Water draws them shortly after hatching by the shore…

Mom’s nest is some distance away from water, on the ground, well hidden under low tree branches or in dense grass clump. She builds her nest in a shallow depression lined with down…

Little ones are tended by mom, but feed themselves. Their first flight is known only to them…

Scooter finds his mate on the winter range. While pushing back his daring male friends, his bride awaits with wings of love…

Scooter’s male friends swim back and forth rapidly with neck stretched upward, exaggerated bowing, and short display flights; He pursues his bride fast and deep to take her for his own….

Scooter migrates with his flock like families do. When migrating overland to coastal wintering areas, he flies high. Stopovers on lakes inland are mostly for resting, not for feeding, though…

I watch “Scooter” each Spring fly high and dive and surf deep into the sea. He is such a beautiful sight to see…

I love “Scooter” The Surf Dude! Especially, when he flys high and dives deep into the sea just like surfers do…

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate…and aspiring artisan.

Conversations with Your Inner Child Can Be Healing…

Stephen H. Sparks, age 2 1948…” I know this little future surf duude. He is my subconscious angel.” Steve Sparks

I know a little about my old pal Stephen. But mostly from the stories told when I was old enough to remember.

Stephen was born into sickness on July 6, 1946. A father who came home from war. A mother who struggled as a single mom. She was sick from growing up during the Great Depression too…

We were all proud to serve America. Navy Brats we were…

WWII was a terribly stressful time in America following WWII. Thousands of families served and suffered too…

Pain and profoundly dysfunctional family dynamics became normalized. Children inhaled the pain of war too. Lingering emotional damage was not understood back then, though…

Sickness often prevailed too. Polio struck Stephen as a 2 year old. He spent 6 weeks in the hospital, without loved ones close by to cheer…

We did not know then what we know today. We did not know how to help each other then when life was so overwhelmed with pain… Most souls survived with strong bodies and hearts.

The demons would hold the little souls hostage until much later. In those later years the haunting demons would return with emboldened rage…

Stephen survived too. But he didn’t know he was injured then. It would be decades later when the demons returned to haunt his mind…

Stephen did not know love as a child. He would not know how to love until decades later… The demons of hate steal love if you let them, you know…

Talking to my inner child… https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/inner-child-healing

I was asked not long ago by a friend, “How do you talk to your inner child?”

After many months of ‘Trauma Informed’ clinical therapy, learning how to talk to my old pal Stephen was a gift of healing for me…

Too many years growing up with no love or peace in my home. And, a series of too many traumatic events as an adult, hijacked my soul, I believe…

How did I help myself and Stephen at the same time? How did talking to my inner child help me heal?

Stephen seems to enjoy visiting me at the worst moments. I don’t want to talk about his stuff in those trying moments of despair…

Stephen keeps me awake in those moments when a warm embrace is needed the most. He triggers me to feel shame and guilt.

Sleeping doesn’t come at first when my mind is focused on Stephen. He needs someone to talk about his pain…

Sometimes I can’t talk to Stephen. So I ask him if we can talk later. With love, kindness and a hug, my old friend let’s me go to sleep.

Stephen shows up in anxious moments. He is angry in these moments. I ask him to give me space. Anger is no longer part of my soul…

Stephen is angry about his stuff. He wants me to reinforce his anger at others who hurt him.

I hug the little guy and we talk about stuff. Stephen knows he has a friend in me, a friend he never had before.

So, we hug each other and reassure each other. “It’s gonna be okay Stephen.” I always say to him with a kind smile and a warm hug.

Talking to my inner child gives me space to live in the moment. The pain of the past must end its haunting presence in everything good and joyful in the moment…

There is no joy in life when the past is breathing heavily on my back. There is no joy for the loved ones in my life when he is speaking to me, breathing down my back.

Talking to my inner child helps me to separate from him. We are friends now. He is not mad at me now, not ever again.

We are friends now, Stephen and me…

There is no peace of mind when my inner child is angry. Stephen, feels safe now. He is no longer alone with his pain without a caring soul near his side…

With a kind and warm embrace, we go separate ways. He visits me now and then as a friend. We talk and help each other as friends, Stephen and me…

We are never alone now. We have each other as friends near. We heal our souls together…

We have peace of mind now, Stephen and me…

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate

What’s It Like For a Close Friend to Contract Covid19? By Jaci McKim

Heroes on the front lines! Thank your friends and loved ones who care for the sick and dying…

Despite the ever-increasing number of cases, a lot of you have never known anyone personally who has or has had Covid. Now you do. I would be that person. I am telling you this here because I would much rather you hear it from me than through some convoluted grapevine.

In the 48hrs since I became a statistic, there are few answers to be found. Yes, I wear a face shield everywhere I go (I cannot wear a mask without having a complete anxiety attack meltdown and passing out).

In the past 3 weeks, I have gone into one grocery store (once), into Papa Murphy’s once (was there for less than 15 seconds to pick up a pre-ordered pizza), into Starbucks once (long enough to pick up a pre-ordered drink), and to the doctor’s office (once).

We didn’t go anywhere for Thanksgiving. Had my Covid test performed in a drive-thru situation. Other than that, my fat butt has been parked right here at home.

After spending 1hr and 8min on the phone with the county health “tracker,” the only thing we’ve been able to determine absolutely is that we absolutely do not know where I picked up Covid.

Unbeknownst to me, there are apparently several strains of this disease out there, ranking in different levels of severity. SO FAR, I seem to have the Trump strain and not the Charley Pride variety.

I understand that makes me very lucky. I don’t have a temperature, I’m not having a lot of difficulty breathing, and I have not lost either my sense of taste or smell.

YET. I have close friends who are experiencing all of those symptoms, and not only does my heart go out to them, but I am truly thankful I’m not forced to deal with those particular demons.

On the other hand, I do have a slight cough, I am suffering horrible headaches, I feel as though I’ve been run over by a truck, and I’m exhausted after doing something as simple as making scrambled eggs for breakfast.

The WORST symptom — for ME — is a degree of confused thinking which often makes it difficult to create a cohesive thought or sentence.

To their credit, the county health officials have me and my family covered. So do the prayer warriors from Bayside Chapel.

Mom and Ian will both be tested this week, but Ian is really mourning the fact he couldn’t go to church this morning. He has obtained permission (from the county) to go to the post office once a day (though he is required to do so after hours), so he won’t go into complete system shutdown.

We are lucky to have plenty of friends here in town, so we’ll surely have an abundance of folks who’ll be happy to pick up groceries for us when they go for their own.

Meantime, much like Thanksgiving, Chrismas at our house will be exactly that: Christmas at OUR. HOUSE. Unfortunately, in the past, I have made and delivered special Christmas breakfasts for a revolving number of friends each year (many times anonymously), and had made plans to do so again this year, too.

Those gift meals will now need to wait until 2021. Thankfully, I had not yet purchased the “makin’s” for these meals, so nothing is sitting around here getting “tainted.” But, I am sad that I cannot do this again this year, as it is something which has always brought me joy during the holidays.

I haven’t a doubt I’ll recover from this. Same with my folks, if they have it, though I hope and pray they both test negatively. The biggest trick for both me and Mom right now seems to be going to sleep, and staying that way. Especially since whenever we DO get to sleep, the phone rings, or someone rings the doorbell.

To that end, I would ask that those of you who wish to contact us please do so by texting me. Most all of you have my cellphone number.

If I do not speak with you before then, please know I wish you all a very merry Christmas, and I am very much looking forward to NEXT year. I HAS to be better than this one!

Jaci McKim, Depoe Bay, Oregon

Celebrating Democracy with Military and 1st Responder Families of America…

On Pearl Harbor Day…

I’ve been so inspired of late, for more than one reason. The events of last 4 years, this year especially, have moved my heart and soul like no other time in my 74 years. 


I just completed a series of stories with YouTube audio 5-10 minute most.


I couldn’t believe doing 15 editions over 2 weeks since Veterans Day! Wow!

I was walking with my family through this period. I felt my parent’s souls and hearts beating fast with anxiety, fear, hope, and love 💘 


Do you feel it with me?


I cried along with them. And I heal…


I cried my eyes out writing about my family’s roots in America starting around 1900.

The Schaub’s, Fierheisen’s, Antonson’s and Sparks, gathered at Ellis Island in 1900 to start a new life in America.

Ellis Island

All were so proud and excited as immigrants from Europe back then in 1900.

My family’s legacy was born then….


I ask myself often lately these questions.

Have we forgotten America’s promise?
Have we forgotten the meaning of freedom and democracy? 

Do we really know sacrifice and suffering as our parents and grand parents experienced through pandemics, wars, more wars, great depression?  And God knows what else!

Do our kids, grand children and great grand children know about any of this? 

Do kids K-12 learn about democracy in America in the 20th Century? WWI, Great Depression, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War? And so many other events of social and civil unrest?

What do we know in the 21st Century except greed and what we hear and see on TikTok? This scary thought and question doesn’t play well in my mind.

Have we forgotten America’s promise? 

My answer is a very loud and screaming, YES! I believe so, sadly…


But what can we and are doing about it? 


So, I was moved to write a series of stories from Veterans Day to Pearl Harbor Day 2020, just concluded.


I will pick this up again and hit the South Pacific with my father as he sailed off aboard the USS Bellegrove LSD2 in Feb1943. I’m going with him on each of the 8 campaigns from 1943 to June 1945 when WWII. 


I have 10 years of research to help me write the stories with true events. I did this in this Pearl Harbor Day “Celebrating Democracy with Steve Sparks” presentation.


I believe these stories need to be told now more than ever. I also know there are thousands of stories out there to be shared by our generation.


I keep thinking of a collaborative effort, including ebook series of short stories. Readers will want to return for more of this powerful history. We can tell the stories.


https://survivethriveptsd.org/2020/12/celebrating-democracy-with-ol-shipmates-from-the-uss-west-virginia-bb48-december-7-1941/


Cheers,
Steve Sparks, Author, USN vet 1963-1965

c1943 USS San Francisco
Vernon H Sparks BMC, US Navy 1918-1998…

Pearl Harbor Survivor

Celebrating Democracy with Steve Sparks… Vernon’s Home Coming Christmas 1942… A love story…

Chrstmas 1942 Sparks Family WWII
https://www.navsource.org/archives/10/12/1202.htm USS Bellegrove LSD2 1943 Pacific War⁸
BMC Vernon H Sparks, Eight Pacific War Campaigns from 1943-45. Served as Chief Boatswains Mate (BMC) USS Bellegrove LSD2

In early May 1942, US and Japanese carrier forces clashed in the Battle of the Coral Sea. While both sides suffered major losses, the US Navy checked a major Japanese offensive for the first time.

Then, in the Battle of Midway the following month, US carrier aircraft dealt a devastating blow to the Japanese navy, destroying four aircraft carriers. The battle marked the first major US victory against Japan and was a turning point in the war. 


By shifting the balance of naval power in the Pacific, Midway allowed US forces to take the offensive for the first time. The Allies soon set their sights on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands and on New Guinea.”

Vernon was trained as a coxswain or steerman on a Landing Craft Mechanized — an amphibious landing craft also known as a Higgins Boat. This boat was designed to transport troops and equipment from ship to shore as necessary to conduct any military operation.

As many as 18 LCMs were carried by a Landing Ship Dock, a large “mother ship” loaded with all elements of a landing force necessary for a variety of expeditionary warfare missions. Coxswain’s were assigned to the LSD2 USS Belle Grove for the entire war.

Vernon’s next Pacific War duty, as a newly appointed Chief Boatswains Mate (BMC), would be the USS Bellegrove LSD2. Vernon dreamed, worked hard. Vernon proved himself as warrior, the best of the best at sea and on land.

Pearl Harbor Survivors, like Vernon, were treated with great respect and honor. Vernon never felt that way, though. He was serving America with pride, honor and duty. There was an enormous higher calling during that fateful time in history.

Vernon was already a highly trained and experienced coxswain. Vernon would man the LCM’s and lead coxswain’s on the Bellegrove during the 8 Pacific campaigns to follow.

Vernon was already a hardened warrior. Fighting was all he knew as a young man. A warrior, indeed. Vernon never recovered from too much war and trauma in his life.

Vernon didn’t see any of that back then. He thought about killing Japs who killed his best friend Roy Powers, and many of his shipmates on December 7, 1941.

*****

When Vernon finally arrived home with Marcella and little Jerry to their apartment on Scott Street in San Francisco he was so joyful. Marcella couldn’t believe her husband was finally home.


Vernon came home just after his 24th birthday. He was already a hardened combat veteran who survived the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor while serving on the USS West Virginia BB48.


Little Jerry kept saying repeatedly, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” Marcella was busy in the kitchen while Vernon played with his son. He and Jerry seemed to enjoy each other. They laughed while Vernon talked to his son with love in his heart.

Vernon loved the Christmas tree and decorations. Marcella put a white blanket around the the table where the Christmas tree was.  This reminded him of Christmas in St Paul, but with sadness.


He missed his family in Minnesota but was happy not to be around them. Christmas was always a disaster back home, he mused with a smirk on his face, and said to Marcella, “I don’t want to go home to St. Paul, not now or ever.” 


Vernon was overwhelmed with tearful joy while hugging and kissing Marcella and little Jerry for a long time. It was a very special time that Christmas in 1942. The Sparks family was born.


Marcella had a little radio in the apartment too. That was special. They could listen to Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra singing favorite Christmas songs. Little Jerry loved “Jingle Bells with Gene Autry the most.


President FDR’s firm and reassuring voice on the radio was so important to all Americans during that time. 


America’s fighting men and families around the the world trusted their commander in chief. They knew President Roosevelt loved and cared about them and their families. 


“America would win WWII,” Vernon thought, as his mind was distracted from the brief joy of living in the moment during the holidays with his young family. 

Vernon couldn’t relax. He was full of anxiety. He couldn’t sleep. Marcella was worried about his nightmares and nervousness. He was soaked in sweat and shook uncontrollably at night.


The first night Vernon had one of his frequent nightmares, Marcella woke up scared and jumped out of bed. He was yelling, “close the hatch, close that hatch.” 

Vernon would be forever guilty about having to leave the men in the brig on board ship. The Marine with the keys was killed. Vernon would never forgive himself for that. 


Marcella tried to wake him with a hand on his chest and a hug, but he pushed her away. While she fell back on the floor, Vernon punched holes in the wall, and yelled as loud as he could, “Japs, the Japs are bombing us!” 


Marcella was frightened for the very first time while little Jerry was screaming with fear. She knew then what she already expected, Vernon was sick. 

Marcella then knew for sure her husband would be fighting a war with himself. She also knew she and the kids would be his shipmates fighting along side him. She knew this instinctively.

What she didn’t know though, is the entire family would be sick from WWII, for generations to come. It was the high cost of war.

Vernon was also drinking too much upon his return. Sailors could stay sober at sea, but stayed mostly drunk while on liberty. It was the only thing that could help keep the pain of war at a safe distance, for a little while at least.


But the the nightmares, anxiety, shaking, and sweating profusely returned every night while Vernon was home.

 
“It was no picnic at the beach,” Vernon thought, as he contemplated going back to sea. “My Country needs me,” he would say to Marcella with tears in his eyes.


It became very hard for Vernon to be home and around others who didn’t know much or understand his scary and troubling behavior.

It scared the “holy shit” out of me too,”he would say to Marcella.” “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, honey.” he would say with hands on his sweating face and shaking hands covering his face. Marcella didn’t understand panic attacks then.

 
“I’m so sorry,” he told Marcella with trepidation just about everyday while home on liberty that Christmas 1942.
Vernon’s mind was 24/7 locked and loaded. He would soon return to the Pacific on the USS Bellegrove LSD2 in Feb 1943. 


But he couldn’t talk to Marcella about that, “not once, not anytime, not ever,” he thought with a sad smile while hugging and kissing Marcella and little Jerry.

Vernon loved Marcella and Little Jerry with all his heart and soul. He was afraid he wouldn’t come home again…

This would be an all too brief visit for every Sailor preparing for the Pacific War. It was this way back then. America was at war…


Vernon also knew there was a 50/50 chance he would return home alive. But he didn’t talk about that either.

Vernon H Sparks BMC USS Bellegrove LSD2 1943-45