Happy New Year’s Eve! (Look out for a Veteran)

colorfulfireworks

What a year.  Seriously.  In our house, we are really ready for 2016 to be over.  At this time of year, I am always hyper aware of how difficult this evening can be for Veterans to get through so I thought I would post our top five ways to get through the night.

  1.  Listen to music:  Headphones in the ears with your favorite music can really help ease the noise and the triggers the noise creates.  Whether you opt to jam or meditate, choose a playlist for tonight that will help you feel groovy.  Here is one I made if you have Spotify.
  2. Hug a pillow:  This may seem strange but one of my Veterans biggest triggers is the vibration, particularly from unruly neighbors that shoot them off near our house.  Body pillows are cheap and holding one to your chest can minimize the shaking feeling.
  3. Watch a movie:  We usually opt for an action movie right as the sun begins to go down.  This gives the drunk bozos a good hour and a half to set off their fireworks and depending how into it you are, you will barely notice the noise because of everything going on.  If you have surround sound, this is 100 times better because it then just seems like background noise. (Best thing we have ever purchased)
  4. Eat your feelings:  This is one that I got from an Occupational Therapist.  If you can tolerate crunchy things, make a NYE bowl.  Depending on your preference for salty or sweet, fill it with items that are crunchy when you eat them.  This is a perfect pairing with the movie because you are desensitizing yourself to the noise in your ears at the same time as keeping occupied.  Ours consist of crunchy pickles, carrots, nuts, cheese and some sort of chip or cracker.
  5. Practice patience:  Once the flurry of war fails to be the lead story on the news any longer, people just don’t take it into consideration.  We are less than 3% of the population and on your block, I bet there are many people who don’t even know anything about what we go through on these holidays.  You can put out a sign, you can ask people not to do it or you can call the cops when they do (we have had to do this) but ultimately, the day will pass and life will go on.  If you can try to handle it better each year, there may be a time when you don’t even notice what is happening any more.

We can dream, right?

No one appreciates warriors until the enemy knocks at the gates.

Here is hoping you and yours have a lovely transition to 2017 and we make it the most amazing adventure.  That’s what I am hoping for any way…

Resource Update: A NOTE OF THANKS

WHAT A SUMMER!  Really, what a year 2016 has been.  Does it feel unusually long or is it just me?

We have been crazy busy and that generally doesn’t mesh well with appointments but we managed to pull off a few fun things this year.  I think we all actually were grateful when school started this year so that things would just settle down!
One of reg awesome things we got to do was to take Little Monkey to a concert thanks to an organization called A Note Of Thanks.  This group gets concert tickets for Veterans so they can enjoy a show without having to incur the cost.  Initially we tried to take her to see Kelly Clarkson/Pentatonix but it didn’t work out.  The tickets we ended up getting were for Nick Jonas/Demi Lovato which I would have to say may be ::slightly:: better.  We had so much fun!
demi-lovoto
We had pretty great seats.  No I know you must be thinking “how does a Vet do a concert that big?”  I get it.  The way we approach this as with all things is very carefully.  Fortunately, my husband remembered that he had these awesome earplugs he had been fitted with at the VA.  He took those along:
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The earplugs are noise canceling after a certain decibel and when the crowd or the band were too loud, they just shut off periodically.  This was a HUGE help for the anxiety and stress that crowds can provide in these situations for my Veteran.   We also paid to upgrade to the VIP parking.  BEST DECISION EVER.  Not only was the lot right next to a private entrance to the venue but when pulling out of the lot, the attendants stop traffic on the main road to let everyone out.  This reduced a great deal of the anxiety my Veteran would normally have with the piling out-of-doors or traffic.
Both Nick and Demi were amazing.  While I wouldn’t have gone on my own, it was a great experience to share that with my daughter.  She had a permanent smile for days and having mom and dad enjoy it as well was icing on the cake.  We were blessed to be in Orlando and the special guest was the amazing Andra Day to sing for a memorial to the people who were killed in the nightclub shooting there.  It was moving and haunting and I was so glad we were there to witness this profound moment.
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I can’t say enough about the amazing day or the kindness of A Note Of Thanks.  If there is a show coming near you, check them out.  You could end up with the experience of a lifetime!  You can do it, you just have to make a plan.
I hope your day is fantastic!

Resource Update: Soldiers’ Angels

Mother's Day cardsThere are so many organizations that do such great things.  Honestly, I could post something every day and not be able to catch up with everyone I want to mention.  Today I am posting this group, even if I have spoken about them in the past, because they are always there when I need them.

Soldiers’ Angels does so many amazing things.  Throughout the year, I get resources, supportive messages and connected to programs through them that are life altering.

This past week I had to have oral surgery.  I have put it off for over a year because my being down always presents problems in the house.  While everyone is capable enough to handle things, there inevitably is a freak out over the sheer VOLUME that I handle regularly.  An over-worked mom, imagine that?  My face is more bruised than I thought it would be, the pain isn’t completely quelled by the pain medications and I just wish I could help out more without feeling wobbly every time I stand up.  With an upcoming holiday, every one was even more stressed about how to modify the typical celebration because of what is happening for me right now.  My saying “no big deal” wasn’t being heard.

In the midst of the uproar, I started receiving a stack of cards.  It always slips my mind but when they start showing up, it is whole heartedly welcomed.  One of the outreach groups for Soldiers’ Angels is sending cards.  There are birthday, anniversary and Mother’s Day cards and even Father’s Day cards for my Veteran.  It is the sweetest gesture that means more than I could ever possibly explain to each of these sweet people.  It gives me a big hug and a chance to take a break for something that is just for me.

I urge you to check out Soldiers’ Angels.  If you are not in need of one of their services, they are an amazing organization to get involved with.

For now I am off to more ice packs and liquid diet.  YEAH me!

The Odyssey and the Agony

sunrise jax

I wasn’t sure what to expect when we applied for a couple’s Project Odyssey through Wounded Warrior Project.  As we have attended other similar events, we did expect some type of group therapy discussions.

We were housed at the beautiful TPA Saltgrass Resort in Ponte Vedra Beach (I highly recommend the Fried Green Tomato Pimento Cheese Sandwich if you are ever in town).  The folks at this Marriott were beyond kind and went out of their way over the couple of days to make sure we had what we needed.  This location caters to corporate meetings and they have a Starbucks located inside.  How genius is that?

The staff from WWP were great.  Their intent was to facilitate all kinds of discussions through thoughtful discussion, art projects and bonding exercises.  As with most groups of military families, this can devolve into herding cats.  A lot has been going on in their corporate offices and they handled it well.

I am not a big fan of team building exercises (in corporate environments I have seen the quickly go awry).  A similar thing happened on this venture but with a lot more emotion.  On our first day we were kind of thrown into tandem kayaks with no instruction and told, go to this point down river.

What a mess.

Our guide was knowledgeable, the area was beautiful and my Veteran had the most epic melt down in the history of melt downs out in the middle of the water.  In retrospect, it was HILARIOUS, but at the time it didn’t feel like it.  We had to work through some things for sure but I could have done without the trial by fire.

The next day was a team exercise where half of us were blindfolded and had to come from a room off the larger area into a place where the other half was to make us sit in chairs but no one could talk.  In preparation, my team half developed more than one plan cheerfully and were ready to go.  My Veterans team half apparently fought the entire time.

What happened next was even worse.

Being unable to see and have people grabbing on you brings up all kinds of issues.  Whether you are a Veteran or not, if you have trust issues or space issues or all of the above from a trauma, this reignited all of that.  To say that there was some emotion and crying is an understatement.beach backpack task

The next day’s beach activities were much more beneficial.  Everyone worked together and felt supported.  It was nice to see.

We have talked often since about whether we would have participated had we known any of this in advance and I am not sure.  They don’t give a schedule so you are forced to roll with it but that resulted in being ill prepared wardrobe wise and very stressed when it came to times for medications.

It could hbeach task2ave been handled better.

The results, however, are hard to argue with.  There were conversations that needed to be had that finally started.  There were plans to be made that finally were.  There was thoughtful consideration of personal goals which had been lacking.  I am glad for the experience of it but not sure I would recommend it for everyone.  If you aren’t in the right head space for that or not in the place in your relationship where you are ready to work on things, you would be miserable.

Fair warning.

 

 

Resource update: Christmas

Greetings!

I hope everyone is well and fully in the preparation of a glorious holiday season!  Realistically, I know this is a stressful time for everyone.  Hang in there, reach out to someone to talk and take deep breaths and long walks.  This too shall pass.

As a reminder, I don’t know if any of you found this on the data base I posted previously but this is the link for Christmas related items HERE I am not 100% on the due dates for all of them but in case there is one in your area or one still open, apply!  You will not know what kind of help you can get if you are unwilling to  ask for it.  If nothing else, remember this for next year and start your applications early!

I hope you find some time for smiling this holiday.  I have done that by checking out of the typical family dramas and going my own way.  You are in charge of you, REMEMBER THAT!

I wish for your and yours peace, light and laughter in the remaining days of the year.  Soon we will be getting ready to wipe the slate clean and start all over.  What are your intentions for 2016?

I have a long list, I will post them soon!

 

 

 

Summer Round Up and Holiday Goings On

WOW.

I knew I would be busy this summer but I didn’t expect it to disappear in the blink of an eye!  There was a great deal of awesome sprinkle with a bit of not so great.  Isn’t that how life really is most days?

Our retreat to Boulder Crest was AH-MAZING!  We went for the Songwriting with Soldiers retreat mostly because this appealed to our youngest daughter and came away HUGE believers in music therapy.  Everyone was so kind and interested in helping in any way they could and I highly recommend retreats with either group that you may be able to do in the future.  What’s great about Boulder Crest is that you can also rent a cabin with them for a week!  YES, REALLY.  It’s beautiful, quiet and peaceful there.  To get up to date on all things Boulder Crest, you can check them out HERE.  For more information on Songwriting with Soldiers and their events, you can check them out HERE.  If you are interested in the songs we wrote that weekend, you can check them out HERE.  (YES, I am the lassie from Tallahassee who is all about the fun!)

Our girl on fire competed in the Outdoor Nationals which was held in tiny Decatur, Alabama.  The weather was quite disagreeable but it gave us the opportunity to take her to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.  She very much is still on the “I am going to be a scientist and go to work for NASA” career path so she was blown away.  Sometimes life can really get you down but those are the kinds of moments that are my favorite, when we can watch our kid light up like a Christmas tree.  I don’t think she stopped smiling for days.  At that point, we made the resolution to no matter why we are traveling, fun or not so fun, that we take a break to have a little side trip.  So many amazing places in the country and sometimes we just drive right by them!  WELL STOP IT!

My father was moved to hospice home care shortly afterwards so I have made three unscheduled (read = EXPENSIVE) trips out of state to visit.  While I love my family, it is not fun to watch the drama that unfolds surrounding this.  My dad, a Vietnam Veteran, has had decades of substance abuse without seeking therapy or treatment, so while it is sad, it is certainly not expected.  It has been very hard living out of state and juggling the animosity that brings up for some people but the fact is, I am also primary caregiver to a Veteran that lives in my house.  I also have minor children to raise.  I also can’t do everything.  UGH.

Back to school started and it is always weird to see my youngest just a little bit older and closer to going to college.  She has set high standards for herself and we are mostly just trying to get out of the way!  We are hoping once she is there that there are more scholarship opportunities for children of disabled Veterans.  Currently there is a surprising lack of those I have found.

I finally got to head out on a caregivers retreat and I will write more about that in another post but that is something else that is critically important, yet not enough of them!  Right after that, I had my first experience with surgery at a VA facility, also another blog post, and that was interesting to say the least!

The holidays are coming up, are you guys doing anything fantastic?  We are going to attempt a family reunion of sorts in Orlando.  Since the way we handled things last Christmas went well and my Warrior loved it, we thought why not invite everyone?  In a way it also helps avoid more of that drama that keeps popping up and I am all about less drama.  Why waste time being miserable on any holiday?  It is okay to do something different and just order pizza.  No one will die and what if you end up having the time of your lives?  It’s possible, ya’ll know that right?

 

PEACE!

Resource Update

I hope everyone is getting ready for an awesome holiday weekend.  Remember to do something fun and productive with your family.  Those memories will be something they carry with them the rest of the year!  We are checking out the Song writing retreat through Boulder Crest so I am hoping to have loads of pictures and stories for you when we return.

I wanted to pass on a great link to another caregivers blog that also has a resource page.  Maybe there are some things here you have been looking for?  I hope you find it helpful.

Peace!