Soldiers, Contractors and the Killing of Hope

crossposting from qoftu.com

I typically post this stuff elsewhere but this is something I couldn’t get off my mind since the Op Ed from Erik Prince. Some segments of our society would like you to think that sending mercenaries into Afghanistan equates to privately funded space exploration. They would be wrong. The continued trickle of soldiers and […]

via Soldiers, Contractors and the Killing Of Hope — Queen of the Universe

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What A Year

I have sat down a million times to write my thoughts down since the election.  Some how, I still can not find the words.

 

I spent much of the month of November crying and much of the time since has become a blur of lies, stress and concern for the direction of our nation.  My Veteran is increasingly resistant to even leaving the house for fear of an argument with a Nazi that results in him getting arrested.  No matter your political affiliation, if you don’t have serious reservations about the direction of this Administration, then I can’t help you because you are already that lost.

 

Once the symptoms had progressed for my Veteran so much that we were cancelling any public events or interactions for him, I was able to get him into another outpatient program.  Sadly, along with the current Administrations belief that privatization will solve everything, he was placed in a facility that had very few Veterans.  The bulk of the group were people with a variety of addictions that eventually caused a strain on the class and security issues.  He was unable to complete the program.

 

Since then, it has been varying scenarios of the same nature.  He can not watch the news, he doesn’t trust one single person in Congress to do what is right any more and he would rather not live here.  Since we haven’t won the lottery, what are our options?

 

I hope that each of you are finding better ways to cope.  Is there something that helps most?  Have you had to change your life radically?

 

I hope you are finding peace while we are looking for it too.

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…

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!

Managed Chaos

Probably the best part of attending any training class is simply the fact that it validates the struggle. You are not alone as a caregiver and hopefully you have someone to support you in that.  I also learn about new stuff and that is never a bad thing.  I try to share new things when I find them and there have been a couple of things that have helped recently I wanted to let you guys know about.

CAREZONE – This is an awesome app that has allowed me to put my Warrior in control of more of what is happening. This sends messages for medication times and he has to swipe and check off which one he has taken. Before we were in a position of me following up three times a day, almost always there was one dose missed and then the after effects of the missed meds. Now, he actually is remembering because he knows he will get a prompt. How cool is that? I still check in every few days but for the most part he is taking it on time and sometimes before the alarm goes off.   Its super easy to load the meds in and I am sure it does more than what we are using it for at the moment. I will let you know about future uses of the app that I use!

CHOPRA CENTER MEDITATION – Meditation is a great way to relieve the stress that the day hands you. I know that there are tons of places to get meditations and music but this is where I come back to every quarter. Deepak teams up with Oprah every quarter to do a new series of guided meditations geared towards a specific goal. These are free and delivered to your email daily for 21 days. This way you can potentially create the habit of meditation that you return to even after the series is done. The next one up is Manifesting True Success and I am already signed up. I wish I could remember to sit down every day and meditate but that doesn’t always happen. This is a manageable commitment once a quarter that adds substantially to my life. What’s better than that?

WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT – If you aren’t signed up for WWP, you should be. The offer a great deal for Warriors and more now, things that spouses and/or kids can attend. Recently in our area they have been offering cooking classes. It doesn’t sound like that big a deal but my Warrior and I have really begun to enjoy a regular date night and these are activities that we wouldn’t normally be able to afford otherwise. Look them up, sign up, and attend! The more that you show up, the more that they will reach out to us. Time off to not worry about things for even a couple of hours is the most priceless therapy I could ever imagine.

I am sure that there are other things that I should be adding but this is what has come up for us this week. What are some useful tools you have? How do you manage stress? What do you do for date night?

New Year Intentions

On my personal blog, I have been writing about New Year “resolutions” for years.  Actually, it’s more my lack of resolutions.  I don’t really think I have ever met someone who made a resolution that they kept.  I am sure that someone does or maybe its one of the biggest urban myths in existence.  Either way, I began to do list of “intentions” at the beginning of each year.  Doesn’t intending to do something sound radically different from resolving to try to do something?  As Yoda says:

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

While I haven’t completed my list of intentions for 2015, one of them is to live more in the present.  I think it is easy to get bogged down in appointments, drama, sleep deprivation and obligation and there is a general lack of any spontaneity or FUN.  As I mentioned in my last theme park post, sometimes doing something out of the ordinary works out far better than expected.  Want an example?  We had a couple of mandatory road trips this week that would take us through Louisiana on I-10 this month.  We take the I-12 portion through Baton Rouge because it is supposed to be faster but for us it ends up being congested, angry and short on facilities.  It is by far the most stressful and miserable part of the trip, every time!  Because all of us have wanted to visit New Orleans for many years but some how never found the way to do so, I asked everyone, why not pit stop in New Orleans?  I mean we are going to get food and coffee some where, why not do it there?

There was really no reason not to.

Cafe Du Monde has been on everyone’s bucket list for several years, mostly because of its frequent appearance in movies/TV shows, but also because the incredible history it has with the city.  Out of the four times we went through this past week, we went to the Cafe three times.  (The fourth one was completely derailed buy the Rock & Roll Marathon street blockages but we DID try.)

 

sunrise on the lakeBeignetsJackson Square

 

It was delicious food and a completely charming city.  Each time, we walked a little bit further, found a few more things we wanted to do next time and ended up deciding we MUST plan a family trip to NOLA.  Had we stayed on a rigid idea of what can and cannot be done, we would have never known how much we would love it.  Each time we were at the Cafe, we were eating and back out of the city within 45 minutes…not much longer than a regular pit stop but this was one with so much more character!

It was pretty eye-opening…

We set the intention for this year that we will try to plan a city pit stop in each area we go through.  There is so much out there that we are missing when we don’t slow down.  Instead of existing in a blur, we now have a new memory and a desire to explore a city not too far from us.  What’s better than that?

If you are interested in the kind of lists I do for the beginning of year intentions, you can check some of them out HERE.

What are your intentions this year?

What are you looking forward to most?