2200 and DONE!

I just completed something that one year ago, I would have told you there was no way I could fathom doing. I read a lot on Facebook about our Veterans, the 22 a day who commit suicide, and how we can help those who ask for it. Because of that, I’ve become a volunteer at our VFW Post 2503, @ 90th & Military Ave in Omaha, NE. The Babe is the Quartermaster for the organization, and I belong to the Auxiliary, serving as a Trustee. Check their website, activities, and events for the month of August. Busy place, doing good for the community. We’d love to have you stop by!

So in addition to this, we’ve established relationships with Moving Veterans Forward, Nebraska; Nebraska COPS, and Guitars for Vets. We support all three, and are proud to be a part of it. Great causes, all of them. Personally, I joined a July Challenge on Facebook, to do 2200 Squats during the month of July. That means 71 a day. Unlike the photo in the header, I couldn’t do a push up to save my soul. Some folks prefer 22 push ups a day.

Being in my very late sixties, I can’t do the kind the kids are doing; squatting while hanging upside down like a bat in it’s cave; squatting while holding a 75 lb iron weight; squatting while holding a human sideways. You get what I’m saying.

The kind I can do are holding onto a countertop height sink, and doing them without hurting knees, back, etc. There are YOUTUBE videos on how to do that. It’s amazing! I did 50 a day in June to raise awareness about heart disease (prevelant in our family, thank you Agent Orange!), and 71 a day for 22 Until NONE. I’m going to issue a challenge to everyone to continue with me, for the month of August. All I want you to do is think of the number of very good people, citizens of this great republic, who have suffered such trauma to their minds, bodies, and souls, that they feel their only option is to end their lives.One is too many, much less 22.

Of course, the person has to be accepting of any help. And it’s peer to peer in most cases. Men and women who have been there, and done that. Listening to the Babe tell me of his solo trip home from Vietnam in the late 60s, I marvel at how that must have felt. I believe now groups are sent home at a time, and it’s orchestrated by the military. When the Babe came home, he was dropped at the airport, no money for a plane ticket home or anything. He was 19 or 20. A farm boy from South Dakota who escaped that Jungle Hell with his life. I am sure every military veteran ever in a war had PTSD. Now, it has a name. In the two World Wars, the men (and nurses) were told to “man up” and get back to their lives. Many, many of them were alcoholics until they died. How sad. How tortured they were. The Babe suffered from alcoholism, too. Thank God, he resolved that and his chain-smoking habit before we met. I’m so grateful for that. It’s restored him to the person he was before he took his trip to Southeast Asia.

Personally and publically, I support assistance for veterans, and especially veterans who suffer from PTSD and Chronic Pain. I can relate to the Chronic Pain, and know how hard it is to keep from being deep in a pit of depression. Guitars for Vets would help someone you know who is a veteran diagnosed with PTSD. We’ll have information about them tomorrow at the Car Show. I’m raising funds for them by selling guitar pick earrings for $10 a pair! You need some. Stop by the merch table tomorrow. Omaha, NE. 90th & Military. See you tomorrow! And do your 71 squats; or 22 pushups or squats. Just remember our warriors. We owe it to them.

Independence Day, 2021

Freedom is the right to choose; the right to create for yourself the alternatives of choice. Without the exercise of choice, a man is not a man, but a member, an instrument, a thing. Archibald MacLeish

Archibald MacLeish was an American Poet and Writer. I believe he held many positions in his life, from WWI soldier to Secretary of State for Public Affairs under FDR. During WWII he assisted with development of the Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA. He was a very intelligent man, and worked to promote the arts, culture, and libraries. I love this quote; it’s not only true, but necessary for us to understand the meaning.

As a kid, Mom made all of our decisions. That is perfect when you’re under a certain age. When you get to be a teenager and Mom decides on your clothes with no input, how are you supposed to learn? Gosh, I didn’t get to pick out anything until I bought my own things. Once I learned to sew, I was on my own. No more old lady stuff – at least that’s how it was set in my mind. No freedom, no rights. Once I attained the freedom, the responsibility became mine also. I enjoyed that very much.

I was raised under the idea the man is the head of the house, the woman was the heart. Mom disciplined us, and did pretty much everything a “housewife” did. Dad was the provider and the handyman. I carried that idea with me, along with some kind of antiquated ideas and silly fantasies perpetrated by movies, songs, and television shows, that didn’t serve my first marriage any good. We both thought little of me. By the time I wanted to get life insurance on myself and he said, “No, it’s my money. I don’t need it on you. Your mom will watch the kids.” I knew things would never be the way they should be. No freedom there. Lots of responsibilities, but no gratitude shown by the other grown up in the relationship. I invited him to leave, and the kids stayed with me. Free at last, thank God Almighty! Free at last. And more responsibility. But I craved the freedom.

It was frightening yet exhilirating. I named my slavery and accepted the only way it could change. It took fourteen years for me to meet the Babe; God wasn’t ready for us to be mates yet. Once we were, I looked long and hard at the questions; Would I lose my freedom? Would I become dependent again, and lose my say in decisions? Would this man be offended if I made more money than he?

I gathered the courage to ask the Babe those things out loud. He may have thought I was nuts. But I needed answers. We talked and he was very kind to me when he said, “Why would I do that to you? We are a couple, and I want you for my wife, and I would not take away any freedom from you!” As for being offended if you made more money, he said (in his best Sam Elliott voice), “Have at it, Sweetheart.” I’ve enjoyed my freedoms, hard fought and earned.

Name your slavery. It could be a bad marriage, alcohol, drugs, being a control freak, whatever. Whatever causes you lack of freedom, let it go. Divorce it, go to rehab, go to therapy, set yourself free! Life is meant for us to live freely. We are lucky to live in a nation where we can practice all the inalienable rights set forth in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

Your naming your slavery is your truth that will set you free! I shudder to think where I’d be if I hadn’t named mine. Life is so amazing, I’m so grateful. We have blessings to many to count. Life as a free woman is beautiful and fulfilling.

As you ponder your own personal freedom today, be grateful for the American Soldier, who have fought for centuries to keep us free from aggression from other countries. Our civil liberties are ours just by being American citizens. Let’s give thanks for what we have; thank a soldier. Be kind today. Remember many soldiers with PTSD are dealing with problems from the noise. Be aware many pets are dealing with trauma from the noise also. Two years ago tomorrow, we lost one of our beloved pets from a fireworks related response. Someone left out gate open, Roxie and Lexie ran out, and only Lexie came back. Roxie was killed in traffic two blocks from home.

The grief was crippling. I started blogging regularly to deal with it. I told her story. You listened. And now, we are close to 700 blog posts later. Thank you for reading. We lost Roxie, but we gained all of you. See you tomorrow!

Today, I Give You . . . Allergies!

I cannot believe the mess of cotton from the Cottonwood tree in the Wetland behind our house. Last year, more big clumps were on the tree. I don’t remember it looking like snow! The asthma has kicked in but not badly. More like just very tired. Wanting to sneeze, but nothing is there. Did you ever start to sneeze, your mouth opens, you grimace, then nothing. You kind of feel like a dork, and there you are. Looking like a dork, not sneezing. Note to self; take the rest of your allergy meds. OK?

We’re going to an outdoor concert tonight, Ken Sitler opens for Jimmy Weber. They did the same two years ago, pre-pandemic. It should be a great show, and we look forward to havng some of the world’s best gelato afterwards. No worry, I already did my 71 squats and 22 wall/doorway pushups. I’m down! 71 sink squats are more than 50, which were pretty easy. These are harder. But remembering our Veterans and helping those with PTSD is worth the temporary inconvenience. Join me, and think abour our veterans while you do these squats and push ups.

Sorry folks, that’s about it for today. These allergies kind of kicked me! I had a nap already, and it’s not getting better with itchy eyes. Hopefully see you at the concert tonight! And of course, see you tomorrow!

Saturday and Sunday Fun!

Guilty for playing hooky yesterday! It was such a fun morning!

A VFW member had a guitar he wanted to donate to Guitars for Vets, Nebraska. I couldn’t attend one of their meetings until yesterday to meet Peggy Frye Ullom and drop off the guitar. David J Mike and I met before, and he greeted me with a warm hug, as did Jim. Nice, nice people.

After meeting Peggy, she asked if I wanted to hang out for awhile. I did. Lucky me! They were rehearsing for their two hour set, which is going on at this minute. In Papillion, Nebraska, at Veterans Park. Their music will continue all day long and into the early night, to bring attention to Veteran PTSD.

The organization, Guitars for Vets accepts Veterans with a medical diagnosis of PTSD. Often, they spend time talking about their situations as well as learning their music. The relationships built between Veterans has always amazed. It’s one of the utmost of trust, camaraderie, and knowing. They have to trust their peers have their backs; the stories they share (good and bad) are relatable to all of them; and they all know what each other have been through. PTSD is very common during the summer, often triggered by fireworks. Sad we celebrate that way.

They understand the nightmares, the haunting visions, the triggers they each carry. And they accept each other. They support each other. It’s a beautiful thing to observe. I always see them at the VFW. It makes me think of my dad and his brothers, all Veterans, all honorable men. Dad and Uncle Joe Jewell served in WWII and Korea. Uncle Bob served in Korea too. Their formal photos all hung in Grandma’s living room as long as I can remember.

Uncle Joe Conrad served in the Navy. He looks so dashing in his photos. Like a movie star! He was on the USS Essex. His brother Bob and a man we know from the VFW Post were all stationed together. I was thrilled to hear that story from Bob Blakeman after Uncle Joe died. Bob had health issues preventing him from attending the funeral, but he gave me the gift of that story, that connection. He passed shortly after that, as did Bob Conrad. I think of them in heaven, all restored to whatever life in heaven looks like, and it makes me smile. That Veterans bond never ends. It defies death.

If you are in driving distance to the Papillion Nebraska area, road trip yourselves up here or down here and sit and listen to these fabulous musicians. The healing power of music has saved me many, many times. Through hard times and good times. Music is always there. And it heals hearts and souls. The schedule of performers is on their FB page, Jimmy Weber is performing last, and he will close with his version of TAPS. Have a hanky ready. It’s very powerful. Come out, enjoy the nice summer day; get some joy from the music, make some new friends, and learn what Guitars for Vets does for our Veterans. We owe it to them to support them in any way possible.

Overflowing with Gratitude Thursday

Sometimes you have to find another word for Thankful. So, it’s an overflowing with gratitude Thursday. The Babe and I saw our friends at the VFW Post last night. Everyone is well as far as COVID-19 goes, so that’s a good thing. We do have a gentleman in our group who is seeing a return of his cancer. Along with his dementia, it’s really a labor of love for his wife. It has to be hard to be watchful every moment of every day. It’s sad, he had such a dry sense of humor. He still does, it’s just tucked away in there somewhere. I hope God keeps him safe from any harm, and he makes the way easier for his wife. Prayers are always appreciated. Nugent and Lora are their names. Thanks.

One thing has never occurred to me in my whole life. How fireworks affect a combat veteran. What a terrible experience that must be, to have PTSD and be triggered by fireworks. Aside from “ooohs” and “aahhhs” for the first spectacular ones, I really don’t care for them anymore myself. We’ve had several dogs who are afraid, and that can be bad for the pet and their surroundings. No one considers the veterans, though.

Here is a link to a You Tube video explaining a little about the connection between fireworks and PTSD. Although the video is produced in South Carolina and lists their VA as a contact, feel free to contact the VA in your area. In Nebraska, it is: VA Medical Center, 4101 Woolworth Ave, Omaha, Ne 68105. The phone number is: (402) 346-8800.

There are a number of differing opinions about PTSD and Veterans. An organization has created yard signs asking for compassion with fireworks, as a Veteran resides at the home. Military.com has lambasted the signs and organization. It says if your PTSD is so bad you can’t go to work after July 4, or if you need total quiet to function, you need more help than a sign can offer. True. I believe it’s up to no one to judge the situation. Please, make that call to your local VA. They can get you headed in the best direction. There are many organizations who help veterans cope. Locally, we have a “Guitars for Vets” group. There is a national group, “Hunting with Soldiers.” It sounds as if there is a place among those who “get it” for anyone who wants or needs that place. Get there. Soon. You’ll be glad you did.

Back to the matters at hand. My current work, “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons,” is underway. I need to investigate the genre of Creative Non-Fiction. Truthfully, I cannot believe there are so many genres and variations thereof. Way different than when we were kids. Anyone know of a great reference tool for Creative Non-Fiction? The more I can learn, the better off I’ll be, and so will you, my readers.

I’m finding bits and pieces about writing Creative Non-Fiction. Things such as: vulnerability and honesty are crucial to writing it well; don’t give advice; watch your tense; zoom in on action; ruthlessly cut-back the story; stick to tone-setting details; unexpected, w/punch. I like this one the best: Treat your past self with dignity. We should always do that, I believe.

And the five R’s of Creative Non-Fiction? Real life, Research, wRite, Reflect, Read. Clear as mud, right? I’m with you on that. It sounds as if elements of great fiction writing are present in the writing of CNF. That appeals to me. More reading ahead, as I learn what to do, then do it.

Time to go do some errands with the Babe. Thank you for reading, I appreciate it. I’ll be here again tomorrow, and hope to see you here tomorrow. Have a good Thursday, be grateful. Wash Up, Show Up, Be Uplifting, and Wear your mask! I want to keep you all for a long time.