Sunday; PTSD & Mental Health

Today was an informative event at the VFW Post 2503, thanks to the generosity of Kim Erickson and Tammy Marshall, Donna Wolff, and Silouan Green. Mr. Green is an author and speaker on PTSD, and does training for many types of organizations, military, law enforcement, and others. He was an incredible and informative speaker on the subject of PTSD.

It is a subject people don’t want to talk about. Mental health is just as part of your health as your gall bladder, your heart, and muscles. Anyone can have PTSD. It can be from a direct event that happened to you, or can be something you hear about that causes you great distress. It’s amazing. I wish you had all been there. We learned so much.

I learned a lot I didn’t know, and am disappointed Donna didn’t do her presentation on Talk Saves Lives. I was looking forward to it, but it wasn’t to be. Silouan ran over, and Ms. Wolff needed to drive back to where she lives near western Nebraska.

It was my last formal involvement in a VFW Post activity; I’ve made it known I need to spend more time pursuing my passions. Writing, Quilting, and learning new things are tops on the list. I want to take art lessons as well. This will allow me much more time. It’s time. Time to make time for myself and what I wish to do for myself. It’s all part of being well-rounded. I’ve loved my time volunteering with Veterans outreach, and we’ve made friends to cherish from these years. My life is very good, and I’m proud of what’s been accomplished. Time to step back.

I remember when I was a kid, a great aunt on Dad’s side of the family was hospitalized with mental health issues. I was about 10 or so, I think. We went to visit her at the mental hospital near the regular hospital. Mom threatened us with an untimely demise if we told anyone where we went to visit her, such was the scourge of mental illness. I remember the poor lady was troubled with depression, and she could have been bi-polar, I don’t know. There was no shame in it at all. But Mom thought so, as did many folks during those years. I overheard she had shock-treatments. I didn’t know what those were, but they sounded awful.

If you talked to a “head doctor,” you carried a stigma. The feeling was strong in the families, and society back then. Our aunt was unmarried, so according to the protocol of the times, she lived with her sister (our Grandma) and her family. It was totally normal for us. Like having two grandmothers. She was such a sweet woman, always dressed in her own classic style, and a lady through and through.

Aunt Anna always talked about having class. That was a phrase that meant you had manners, style, were appropriate in any situation, and could carry on a decent conversation. After she passed away, I tried on a dress that reminded me of something she would buy. I heard her, in my mind’s eye say, “Kid, you’ve got class in that.” Even after over 40 years, I miss her. She had such an influence in my life. When I’d stay at their house, I’d get to go downtown on the bus with her on Saturday to go shopping. It was such a wonderful time.

Writing takes your mind on many trips down memory lane. Yesterday, it was about the brownies from three wars; today, it was mental illness, family secrets, and having class. I appreciate you listening and reading and coming back every day as you do. We have #975 followers, which is awesome! I’d like to see us add #25 more, and get to #1000followers since we passed #1000blogs a little while ago. Help a girl out? It’s be fun!

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a beautiful evening and a great Monday morning. It’s going to be a wonderful week. Eight days until our 24th Wedding Anniversary. Some days it feels like yesterday, others it seems like a long time ago. Blissful all the way. See you tomorrow!

You Are Invited . . .

If you are within a reasonable driving distance from Omaha, Nebraska, you are invited to join us for free, no admission, no charge for lunch, to learn about something that plagues the world in which we live.

No one is really safe from PTSD. When we’re bullied as kids, triggers stay in our minds. Not thinking about it doesn’t make it go away. In 1978, when my oldest son drowned (yes, he needed reviving more than three times), I was pregnant with my daughter, and had another son who was nearly three years old. I’m the kind of person, I’m strong through the crisis, then need to vent/talk/reflect about it later. I talked about it with the doctor at my next visit. The only advice he had was, “Just don’t think about it.”

I didn’t know it then, but I suffered from PTSD. Certain smells triggered the panic and my pounding heart. My mouth got dry and I felt like I could vomit. Close my eyes, and I can see my little five year old, convulsing on the gurney. I didn’t actively entertain those thoughts. They appeared out of nowhere.

I vividly remember opening the bag of his clothes from that day. I was in our ancient basement, my little Nicholas was with me, and I took the clothes from the bag. Instantly, the smell of wet sand, lake water, and suntan lotion invaded my senses. I saw my little boy. My stomach lurched, and my tears flowed. All I could do was pray. Thank God he was alive and normal. God listened. God provided for me.

Eventually, I could put it in perspective. I can talk about it now without breaking down. Luckily, my son who drowned doesn’t remember it. He’s now looking at his 51st birthday in a couple months. His life is one of calmness, clarity, and common sense. I believe he “saw the light.” I believe he was sent back to me to be a friend to the many friends he has. I believe he has had purpose I can’t comprehend. He’s always been a good son. I thank God every day.

What I’m saying is, it’s not pleasant to talk about PTSD. It’s even worse to suffer with it. It’s nothing you “get over” or are cured from. You learn to live with it. And it’s hard. We will have representatives from Guitars for Vets, Moving Veterans Forward, 50 Mile March, and others to help find the way.

This is why we’re offering free training on Talk Saves Lives, along with a speaker about PTSD. Lots of folks are coming from far away to participate. Fellow Nebraskans, some Iowans, and many others are gathering at our VFW Post 2503 to learn and offer assistance to those who need it. Here is the information. It’s for the public, you don’t have to be a veteran, all are welcome. Join us if you can. Be brave, and help others, not just Veterans, move forward.

Message me with your Facebook Messenger your questions, or FB Message VFW Post 2503’s page. We’ll answer your questions. Help us help others.

and SHARE with others.

Please register with Eventbrite, click below, or message me and I’ll get your name down. Thank you.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ptsd-speaker-siloun-greentalk-saves-lives-military-version-training-tickets-416106996227

The Smartest Word We Can Say

Are “Help Me!”

It definitely doesn’t mean we’re needy. I was raised in a “Do it yourself, you can’t rely on anyone!” kind of environment. When I was a single Mom, I did a lot on my own. At that point in my life, I was angry and didn’t trust anyone to stick around. I was looking for love in the wrong places as the song goes. Nothing was permanent. My kids and I were a great family, we were close, and had a lot of wonderful times. We also had hard times. When the car broke down or we needed a plumber, it was tight. Back then, the local plumber my folks used billed you 30 days later. A Godsend!

The kids and I learned a lot about dry walling, privacy fence installation, and a lot of other things. I was lucky the boys did the lawn without being shamed into doing it; they actually enjoyed it. One time, they tried to make a mowing pattern like they saw at Wrigley Field during the televised Cubs games. Great memories.

If I were to be honest with myself, I was devastated the person I thought would love me forever didn’t understand anything about me, the kids, or the life I thought we were building. It just didn’t matter to him. A lot of relationships end when one person refuses to grow and the other is held down. Sometimes you need to end something in order to become who you were meant to be.

It was the discomfort I felt during that time that urged me to change my life. I had to. I asked for help from professionals who knew what they were doing. It was the biggest risk I’d taken. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about creating opportunities and being honest with myself. I do know enough to lead my life, make my decisions, and enjoy the consequences or learn from my failures.

Honesty is what you learn when you ask for help. I had to be honest, Ken and Barbie were not happy as everyone thought. I’d also grown up in a house where we don’t tell people our business, and we especially don’t tell our father. As I’ve watched a close friend of mine bare her soul of her struggle with PTSDc, I’ve felt challenged to tell the truths I have, the ones that are close to my heart. I’m amazed at how people relate, and say, “I felt that way, too.” Or “I never realized how miserable you were.”

Many times we’re the guy or gal at the end of the rope being pulled to safety in the Coast Guard helicopter. Sometimes, we’re the pilot, helping someone else. I believe this is what we’re here for.

The Babe and I saw this action yesterday, at the end of the 50 Mile March. It got us in the feels for sure. Our friends from 50 Mile March, (Jay Miralles), Moving Veterans Forward, (Ron Hernandez), and Guitars for Vets (Taylor Frye Ullom), were feeling the effects of walking 50 miles in 22 hours. They are battered, beyond tired, blistered, and beginning to plan next year already.

Being part of the ones who battle the 22 a Day statistic humbles us. All we can do is gain information about suicide and learn it is not shameful. People are often at the point of no return and they’re afraid for whatever reason to ask for help. In September, the VFW Post 2503 in Omaha is hosting an afternoon of discussion and training on “Talk Saves Lives.” I’ll share the information soon. If you will be in Omaha on Sunday, September 25 from Noon – 4 p.m., you may be interested.

Today is a warmer day, and in the sun it’s hot. It’s supposed to do that all week, then cool again. Such is early fall in Nebraska. Take care today. Offer to help someone without them asking. Simply holding the door is fine. It all helps. See you tomorrow!

The Day After

Yesterday was the Bombshell Patriots Conference for Nebraska. It was a very emotional day. Stories shared, we heard about lives of patriotism, valor, anxiety, depression. How these people fought their way out of the darkness are stories of victory, faith, hope, and a strength that builds spirit, character, and heart. Some, unfortunately, cannot find their way from the darkness. The depression takes over.

They may not reveal depression, hopelessness, and PTSD symptoms. Their careers could be over by admitting these things. They struggle. Many cannot do it alone. We lose many to suicide. It breaks my heart to know that. The ratio of killed in action to killed by suicide is reversing at a frightening speed. Fewer KIA’s last year. Four times as many killed by suicide. We cannot look the other way while this happens. We owe our servicemen and women better.

The sisterhood I entered yesterday was incredible. Women helping women. What a noble concept. Not having any sisters, I often am at a loss figuring out how to fit with groups of women. I don’t need to do that with BSP. They honor each other where each of them are. This is key. The encouragement is something I’ve not encountered a lot. It was refreshing and comfortable.

The downside? For a person with fibromyalgia and chronic pain, I have pain every day. After a while, I needed to overcome it mentally. Sure, it hurts, but I know it won’t kill me; I don’t like it, but dang it, I can’t give up everything. That said, conferences and classes must be carefully scheduled. Not too many hours, no carrying stuff and off loading alone. I need to ask for help. And I need a day or two after to do nothing. Recuperation takes strategy, patience, and lots of self-love. And of course, gratitude.

Why gratitude? It’s because twenty-seven years ago, I had a tumor in my spinal column that was growing, pressing the spinal cord. The bone crushing pain I experienced was the worst I ever had. It would have paralyzed me except the neuro doc saw an arachnoid cyst. He learned about it in school, but never saw one. Surgery took over eight hours. I’m grateful every day I can get up and walk. Sure it hurts. It could be so much worse. Sure, it could be so much better. That isn’t even a remote possibility. I have to choose positivity.

Do I have days I don’t want to move? Yes. I have days I don’t want to. I know I’m better up and living. Each day has hope for me. It’s a necessity. Creative endeavors are a must. Writing clears my whole soul. I get strength from it. I’m better at creating than anything else. Quilts, stories, and many needle arts projects will have my time.

As we have a quiet evening and consider what we need to do the next week, I hope you are also enjoying a quiet evening. The week will be another busy one. And I will think of the room full of women and a few men who spent time yesterday with the Bombshells. Long may they reach out. Female veterans need them. I support that. Bless all of them.

Take care this week. Be purposeful about your work and play. Be sure to play. Let’s see each other again tomorrow.

Bombshell Patriots

The Bombshell Patriots of Nebraska held their first Nebraska Conference today. All I can say is I’m blown away. As a new contributor to the organization, I was proud to be there. I was also a vendor, with information on grief from the Centering Corporation, and VFW Post 2503 information, along with some info from the VA itself. The FBI had a recruiting booth, Wounded Warrior represented and sponsored lunch, and VA Nebraska attended as well as others.

Bellevue High School (sorry, didn’t hear if it was East or West!) ROTC presented colors. Alyssa Flood, the Founder of Bombshell Patriots, is a force to be reckoned with. I did not realize she is not a veteran (it doesn’t matter, does it?), and she founded the organization after the grief/anger/angst/frustration from the death of her veteran friend. Grief can be destructive, isolating, overwhelming, or daunting. No one wants to talk about it, much less deal with it.

Alyssa took action to help her deal with it. She is helping female veterans take action to get the help they need during deployment and/or during the re-introduction into life after the military. Of course, there are agencies available through the government agencies like the VA. Do they return all the phone calls? We heard from a couple of veterans who had mental health needs who said a loud “NO” to that question. We heard a female MG question, “Why does she have to wait until Monday?” Good question.

No veteran, male or female, should have to wait, to fend for themselves over a weekend when they need help now. It is no wonder many give up. When they can no longer fend for themselves, they just want the pain to end. That is not on them. It’s not necessarily on their families, health care providers, or anyone specific. From what I heard today, it’s a combination of all the above. Inadequate support for mental health issues is common. Why?

I am certainly no professional in the field; what I can tell you, is our society has hidden any references to mental health issues, treatment, education, and knowledge just came out of the dark ages in this respect. I had a great aunt who had bipolar disorder (manic depressive). The poor woman suffered terribly. They committed her to a mental health facility (Our Lady of Victory) on the original St. Joe’s Hospital campus. She had shock treatments. I don’t think that helped her. I remember being told, “Now, don’t tell anyone she is here, or that we came to visit here today.”

#1 – Who was I going to tell?

#2 – Why couldn’t people talk about it?

It is a shame we whisper about and ignore the number of people there because out of our ignorance. Mental health issues are rampant through our society, military related or not. After what we put our veterans through, why whisper about it or, worse yet, why ignore it? It’s not going away.

Alyssa Flood is now on the front lines as an advocate, referral point, and unrelenting friend to female veterans who need it. Some have families who can help. Many don’t. Why not? Most of us don’t want to ask for help. It’s not a male or female trait, but it’s for sure a veterans trait. Bombshell is a place people with nowhere to go can land, in a safe place, until it can lead them to help if they want and need it. What we’re doing isn’t working. We have to do better. Our veterans deserve it.

Many veterans do not live near family; are emotionally distant; or don’t want to involve their families in their problems. Many don’t realize they have a problem. And the unraveling begins. The risks and prices are so high. It can be frightening. The pain is everlasting. I witnessed it today in a Gold Star Father’s eyes. I will never forget that look. It’s haunting. Fresh as the day it started. We need to hear what these families have to say. We need to listen. And we need to act. Just as Alyssa Flood did. And the speakers. What wonderful speakers there were.

I met some people I only knew online. I hope to talk with them all more in the future. This organization will continue. It will be strong, growing, and effective. We all need this to happen. Most of us don’t know it yet. And we hope we don’t. Until that knock is at the door. And we cannot stop what happens yet. The grief. Oh, the grief.

As I reflect on this day, this gift of a day, with all the ups and downs of the feelings, I am grateful to all the speakers, the educators who don’t give up, the survivors, patients, participants, the veterans who take their PTSD and make beautiful things from it, the music, the artwork, the networking, and the friendships that result. You are all America’s best. Our soldiers. Our protectors. Thank you. Thank you all.

Sliding Into Sunday

It’s been a fantastic three days. All the highs. All the lows that are really highs but you don’t realize it. What? It all depends on how you view events. I am grateful for all of it. Beginnings and endings that aren’t permanent endings. All the feelings that accompany them.

It’s amazing when you meet someone, then spend time with them. Every once in a while, you just know you can be friends. And then you reach out, they reach back, and you talk nonstop for a couple of hours. You could keep going but duty calls. What a great feeling!

I have a great deal of respect for Taylor Frye Ullom. She is the founder and Boss Lady of Guitars for Vets, Nebraska. Any vet who has PTSD can take guitar lessons with an individual instructor. Ten lessons and graduation later, they receive a new guitar and accessories, along with the opportunity to perform with others at a ceremony. I am blessed by attending several of their meetings over the last year and enjoying their music every chance I get. Thanks, Taylor. I love your honesty and candor. It’s refreshing.

We spent time at the Post Friday night for the weekly Fish Fry. Good to see the people, and the new crowd who attend. I did some office work since the group kindly prohibits me from bussing tables because of my chronic back issues. I protested and told them I can handle paper plates, but they insisted. Nice when friends look out for you. I appreciate the kindness.

We went to Gavin’s basketball game Saturday afternoon. He is getting better and better! At the first game, he scored a three pointer at the buzzer! How exciting! He was happy.

We all went to see an uncle of Tracy’s who is very close to the end of his life from congestive heart failure. He is the most active man, the best host, the best friend, and the best mentor. The Babe worked for him for many years, and they knew each other well. They two men were married to sisters.

When the Babe’s marriage didn’t work out, they remained friends and business associates. The Babe got his life straightened out and progressed at work. He became a lead man, then Labor Foreman. His brother-in-law is proudest of the soldier aspect of the Babe’s life. His service in the US Army in Vietnam, and his service now as Honor Guard Captain. Two men, stayed friends for years, despite what life threw at the two of them. What a gift.

I took this photo after we left our friend’s home last night. I believe the angels were telling us that was our goodbye on earth to him. He is ready. May God take him home soon. New friends and old friends. Are all part of our time here on earth. We need to recognize the angels telling us the stories and helping us with new beginnings and older transitions. We are blessed to experience both ends of the spectrum this weekend. Thank you for reading. Hope to see you again tomorrow. Blessings.

Tuesday Topics

Remember the Billy Joel song, “I’m Movin’ Out”? Mama Leoni’s was the restaurant mentioned in Little Italy, New York City. On Rachael Ray today, she talked about going there as a small child; about their food and their service. It was sweet. From the song, you could smell the neighborhood and take in it’s culture, and you could feel it as Rachael Ray talked today. Wonderful stuff. Maybe you should check YouTube for her show and the song. I’d bet it’s out there.

Do you have memories of food/cooking/baking from your childhood? The smell of rising clover-leaf rolls fills my nostrils when driving past Grandma Jewell’s home on Center Street. She’s been gone from there since the 1980s but that memory will stay with me for my lifetime. I think of her as my hero.

I also know the smell of Nestle’s Chocolate Chip Cookies baking. Mom made a batch every week. They were my solace after being bullied at school. I developed a sugar addiction that I still court today; truth be told, I’d go for dessert every time. But eat it first, because life is way too short.

My family went out rarely for dinner. Dad worked nights, but had every Sunday and Monday off as his weekend. Once in a great while, we would go as a family to Piccolo Pete’s for dinner. It was a favorite of Dad’s, just down the street from where his Standard Oil Service Station was located. The dining room was nearly empty on a Monday night right after they opened. Dad had a favorite waitress who always waited on him. That was the term back in the day. Pro Writing Aid flagged it as not inclusive, but heck, that’s how life was then.

Our folks always ordered spaghetti and meatballs for us. That is the only time we ate that dish. Mom never made it at home. It was a real treat. Probably the cheapest thing on the menu for a laborer and his family. The room had a mirrored ball in the middle of the dance floor. Few lights were on, and the outer edges of the room seemed dark and mysterious. We saw the grand piano and some horn instruments behind it. I imagined what it must be like to sit in that room while eating dinner on a Saturday night. What a scene played in my mind. Just like in the old black and white movies.

I believe the sense of smell can either provide wonderful memories or terrible ones. It took a long time for me to smell wet sand and suntan lotion without feeling like I would wretch. It was part of the trauma of experiencing my son drown at the age of 5 1/2. PTSD existed back in 1979 but no one knew what it was. The best advice was “just don’t think about it.” How Dare They!

I was pregnant with my daughter, and I’m sure she felt the trauma just as I did. My little boy, 2 1/2 years old, felt it. He was terrified when his brother went to school. He kept asking if brother was in the hospital. We finally walked Frankie to school, and went into the building, entering the classroom so Nick could see where his brother was. He stopped asking and became less afraid. I didn’t. It took a long time.

Now, when I smell those two things, I recall the tremors in my stomach, but don’t have them. I recall the blessing my son’s survival has been. From that point on, I believe he has a special kind of soul. My kids are all my besties, along with the Babe. From that near loss, I learned I could survive some very hard things. And I have. We have. I’m forever grateful for all of it.

Have a beautiful day today. Find your blessings. Even those that come from tragedy. It’s all part of living life. See you tomorrow!

Fabulous Friday Night!

The Babe and I attended a fundraiser last night for Toys for Tots and Guitars for Vets Nebraska. For nearly a year, our VFW Post has lent support to this great organization. G4V helps vets with PTSD learn to play the guitar, by offering ten free lessons with a qualified instructor. When they complete their instruction, they receive their own brand new guitar and accessories. Last night was an in person ceremony and the first public graduation ever.

Peggy Frye Ullom, a/k/a Taylor is the founder of the Nebraska Chapter. She is committed to helping other Vets who suffer silently from PTSD. It’s no secret she is committed to the nth degree. She is a leader who has a true heart for the mission of the group which is to help the Vets cope with their individual situations. She understands the task and fully supports the mission; she is one of the Vets with PTSD. Total honesty is her mantra, and it helps people open up and be vulnerable in their quest for a more normal life. It is with pleasure I now call her a friend.

The friendships that grow by getting involved in our community is phenomenal. When many like-minded people gather for the good of others, only great relationships can develop. I can hardly wait to see how things go next year, but I’m not about to wish my time away. December will find us regrouping, and structuring our Post Outreach more. There are a couple more groups we would like to become involved with and will investigate that further after Veterans Day/the Christmas Season. Only good can come of being involved.

Ken Sitler and Jimmy Weber, two local retired Air Force Veterans performed last night, too. They are always great to listen to. Their banter is pretty funny, and they had a couple Veterans who are musically inclined join them. One could no longer play guitar after having a stroke; he joined Jimmy and sang. I’m sure that made his year! It’s those kinds of meetings that develop into friendships that result from events like last night.

We’re grateful all these people made Omaha home after their military careers. Not just the three mentioned, but Dave (sorry, I don’t know your last name!), David J Mike and his lovely wife Gail, and all the other instructors I’ve haven’t gotten to know yet. The area is enriched with your presence. Grateful for all of you.

I know what music does for me; I’m sure it “works” in relieving anxiety, stress, and horrible events. Time, and learning how to cope is the best thing we can do for folks who need this. Art, drawing, performing, all give the same effect, it’s why the “arts” were created. When I was a kid, I was bullied. Most everyone was. I’d come into our house, and go to my room. That song by the Beach Boys became my theme song, “In My Room.” Sometimes I resolve bad moods or thoughts by being alone, listening to music. It always makes a huge difference.

As the Babe and I, along with our other volunteers from the VFW Post 2503, finish up on the Veterans Day Celebration of Veterans, we are cognizant of needs of our Veterans. The events in Afghanistan have shaken some to the core. They’re angry, needing to vent, and trying to figure out a lot of things. We are holding the Second Annual Clothing and Food Drive for Moving Veterans Forward and the Sienna Francis House. Two of our younger Veterans called last year to see if they could leave a trailer in the parking lot, and collect coats, for the homeless. Check the Post website @ http://www.vfwpost2503.org to view the list of needs for the food and clothing drive. We will also have Toys for Tots donation boxes available.

Last year at this time, we just became acquainted with Victory Apartments and Moving Veterans Forward. We coordinated with MVF and initiated monthly donations for them. It’s been a very worthwhile endeavor, which we will continue for years to come.

So much good has been generated with those two new guys who wanted to do something meaningful for their fellow Veterans. They have launched many good events; Car Shows benefiting Moving Veterans Forward, Guitars for Vets, Nebraska COPS, and the family of Corporal Daegan Page. The potential is mind boggling. Work by many becomes light. Thanks, guys.

We are also offering an Art Show by Liz Boutin. She is a Bellevue artist and military wife. She has journaled her way through working with the Red Cross Hospital in Germany, and working with Veterans from Iraq & Afghanistan at their first stop after becoming injured. The exhibit shows how PTSD can be worked with through Art. Liz will be present all day Veterans Day if you’d like to visit with her. She will also speak at our Veterans Day Ceremony, on November 11, 2021 at 6 p.m. Her art is available all week to view by members and friends. All are welcome.

There will also be resources available for referrals for Guitars for Vets, Moving Veterans Forward, 22 Until None in Council Bluffs, and other organizations on a list we’ll have available for you to have. We will have a representative from the VA who can register you for your VA Benefits on site, you won’t have to go to the VA Hospital. We want to make it as easy as possible for you or your loved one to receive benefits they deserve.

We cannot guarantee your souls can be repaired like new; we can guarantee you will not be alone. VFW Post 2503. 90th and Military Road, Omaha, NE 68134. Join us!

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!