Sunday, March 9, 2014

This is harder than I thought! (PTSD)

SO, I thought being able to write about PTSD was going to be so easy and that in doing so I could help someone else living with it or with someone trying to beat it.  The issue I'm encountering is that PTSD, as with many illnesses, cuts to the very core of our belief systems.  It is much harder to put into words what we are feeling and experiencing because it may just disprove something we took as "law" until this very moment.

Today, as I learned from my growing Rodan+Fields business, I am taking 20 seconds of courage to try and explain for myself and anyone reading what this experience is like.  Please share your stories and thoughts about this journey as you read.  This journey solidifies that it not only takes a village to raise children, but to survive life and all its many challenges.

My warrior was diagnosed with PTSD years ago, it was something we lived with as a family and he dealt with thru emotional walls and anger to deter anyone from getting too close to him emotionally, including his family. This is one of many common coping mechanisms for veterans and often why so many suffering make the news in not so gallant stories, thankfully we did not travel that path to the same end.  His method of dealing was adequate to function, but not healthy on many levels.  Just over 40 days ago, his method reached its shelf life and his mind and body rejected it in all forms.  My once vivacious husband was scared, confused, and desperate.  If you have ever seen someone react out of pure desperation, it is frightening from all angles.  The helpless feeling that he must have felt and that I absolutely felt was something that puts everything in slow motion.

He wondered and prayed…..

How and Why did my mind betray me?
How do I stop these thoughts in his head that are racing with no plan to slow down?
How do I make it all stop?
Why am I thinking these horrible thoughts?
Why do I feel so desperate?
Why do I feel so sad?
Why can I find no joy in my family?
What did I see?
What did I do?
Why me?

There were certainly no answers in the first few days, only questions that resulted in more questions.  The stress to him was unbearable at times and maddening at others when he refused to consider the methods of help that the VA offered.  The stress to my kids is horrible, and the only "bright light" is that I tell myself that watching their hero heal and grow strong again will serve them well in their adult years, but how do you explain that to a 16, 9, and 3 year old?

My last thought that is yet to be answered fully, How do I keep myself strong and sane through this process?  I, logically, know the answer is to stay rested, eat right, talk to my AMAZING network of friends and family and I also know that is a challenge for me.

And so the answers we've settled on for now is to take one day at a time!
Making the Change one day at a time with our God given village of support - thank you!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

New Series - PTSD: Loving, Living, and Leaving

How in the hell did 3 months zoom by since my last post?!?!  Wow!  To celebrate my return to the blogosphere, we're starting today with a new and happier look for Make the Change!  What do you think?

This week we are starting a series of posts called "PTSD: Loving, Living, and Leaving".  This is a method for me to cope and to help others living with the situation cope with the range of emotions and experiences involved with PTSD and the impact it has on the world around us.

PTSD is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It is common in military service members, police officers, firefighters, 911 and emergency medical personnel, survivors of disasters, accidents, terrorists activity, and victims of rape. (this list is not all inclusive) You likely know more people than you realize that are walking around with memories and experiences that are difficult to understand and process.  The more frequent someone is exposed to trauma, the more at risk they are for suffering from severe forms of PTSD.

My goal for this series is to share my research along with real stories and experiences so that others can seek help, learn to manage and cope with their experiences, and live a full life.  PTSD does not define a person, but it can overwhelm and consume them and the people around them for a lifetime when it goes untreated.  There is hope and help!

The name, "PTSD: Loving, Living, and Leaving", comes from the need to understand how to love and live with yourself if you suffer from PTSD and how to love someone living with PTSD.  The last part is about leaving the "baggage" behind after you learn to deal with it and lastly, for family members and friends, to learn how to leave a bad situation or environment if someone with PTSD escalates and refuses to get the help they need.

If you or someone you love is struggling with PTSD - Please seek help, even when you don't think you need it!  The research and methods to seek help have grown immensely in the last 10 years, especially for military veterans.  Whether you choose traditional medicine, alternative medicine, or a combination of the two - there is help and no shame in seeking it.

If you have a story that you want to share (anonymously and/or cathartically) or a theme that you'd like me to research and include in the on going series, please shoot me a note at

Together we can Make the Change!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Holy Cow!!

Holy Cow!  How in the world does time fly so quickly?  I really do have the best intentions, and still they go hay wire sometimes.  Does that happen to you?

This last month-ish brought many opportunities, fond memories, and revelations.  I am so fortunate to have my family, blood and adopted husband, three kids, and I road tripped backed to Georgia for Thanksgiving.  I love road trips!  I love being "stuck" in a vehicle in each other's space and working out our frustrations and differences in that concentrated time and space.  I love listening to my kids bicker and then fall asleep on each other.  I love the dedicated time with my husband where we have time to talk about all the silly and strange stuff going on in our worlds and none of the necessary but boring logistics that monopolize our "normal" time together.  I love the singing and stories and jokes and dreams we share TOGETHER!

We had a great visit with my mom and her long time boyfriend, who is a a fantastic grandpa to my kids.  I don't have the best relationship with him; you know the kind where if you both didn't love the person you share in common, you probably wouldn't hang out.  He is a nice man and loves my mom and my kids, so that makes him great regardless of the lack of connection we share.  My mom and I continue to try to reestablish our close relationship from my teen years and while we aren't there just yet, we continue to try so I hang on to hope.

We made this road trip fun and functional.  Its much more economical to transport a family of 5 via automobile than via airplane, if you have the time.  On the way to and fro, we used some marriott reward points for free hotel accomodations.  We stopped to have a peanut butter and banana sandwich with Elvis Presley across the street from Graceland on the way south.  Then on the way back home, we took a different route and stopped in Metropolis, IL to see a huge statue of Superman.  The pictures and giggles will surely keep me company and smiling during my nursing home days to come.  

I am still searching for a way to inspire those around me to strive to be the amazing humans they were born to be....we are all stereotyped from the time we are born and it really stunts our growth as people.  As much as I try not to subject my kids to that behavior, I find myself doing it too......I really want to help people rediscover the part of them that allows them to dream big and makes them smile with pride and excitement and feel alive.  I recently realized that the first person I have to help is me.  Despite my educational, professional, and personal successes; there is a silly, adventurous side of me that I burried to make the "responsible" and "right" decisions in life.  I don't regret the decisions I made or my station in life, but I do regret squashing the silly and fun side of my persona in the process.  I think I could have brought her along and it would have made the journey much more enjoyable for everyone involved.  The serious side of me is so much more judgmental, straight laced, and is restricted by "the box".  I want to uncover the crazy side of me, the side that allowed a short, chubby, marginally intelligent young woman believe she could achieve anything and then actually accomplished her dreams......I miss her!

Oddly enough, I have started to feel "her" presence again because of a new business adventure.  An acquaintance of mine from college moved to the area a couple years ago.  We touched base a couple times, but I never made the effort to really reach out.  I am rather guarded these days (note to self, that is not a trait to hang on to).  We communicated via Facebook mostly.  She is a USNA alum, too, so when I saw that she was in the direct marketing business, I was a little shocked.  You know, because I was stuck in "the box" and believe the stereotypes.  I tried direct marketing a couple years ago (5+ years ago) and quit as fast as I started.  Yeah, tried is not an accurate description.  I signed up, got my kit, had a party, and that was it.  I didn't make much of an effort, really.  What???  I expected my friends and family to be excited to support me and nope - that was so not the case and I had no idea how to do the job successfully, so I didn't.  That being said, I was enamored by my acquaintance and her apparent success with a direct sales skin care company.

After a couple lunch dates and some brief conversations, my acquaintance turned friend invited me to join her team and so with little to no knowledge, but a ton of faith and trust - I dove in.  I really must thank her because I love Rodan + Fields Dermatologists and more importantly, her for introducing me to a company that fits into the nooks and crannies of my crazy life, continues to teach me about amazing skin care, and most importantly renewed my faith in people, specifically women.  The leadership in Rodan + Fields is great!  They nurture, support, encourage, teach, and push you thru the doubt to be successful.  My business is still infantile, but I have great dreams and big goals.  This business has the flexibility of direct sales and the corporate support of a franchise.  I am so excited to share the opportunity with friends, family, strangers - it really is that exciting and fun!  The most exciting part is that my success and growth in this business is only limited by my own inhibitions.  I am working with my R+F support structure to exterminate the inhibitions that will slow my business growth.....stay tuned for greatness! 

Holy Cow!  Life continues to amaze me and I love the opportunitiy to live it with my family and friends and the strangers who come into my life at God's suggestion.  My life is so fortunate, sometimes I forget that BUT today I realize how blessed I really am everyday!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and I hope you allow yourself to recognize all that is amazing in your life!


Monday, November 11, 2013

Proud to Serve

As the long weekend draws to a close, I can't help being overwhelmed at the emotion I felt this weekend while participating in my USNA 15 year class reunion and paying respects at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and the USMC Iwo Jimo Memorial on this Veteran's Day.

As I crested the hill and crossed the Severn River into Annapolis, MD,  tears welled up in my eyes at the beauty and glory of the US Naval Academy Yard.  It was surreal to realize that I was a grad of this amazing institution despite my lacking the self esteem to allow myself to feel worthy for the last 15 years.  The Yard is spectacular and the people who graduate from, educate in, mentor thru are absolutely incomparable.  These people are contributing in BIG ways to the USA as military, educational, business, global, and legislative leaders.

Amongst the class of 1998 walks true heroes.  There are current and former Navy and Marine sailors,  marines, pilots, doctors, lawyers, commanders, wounded warriors, coaches, fathers, mothers, ironwomen, and athletes of all flavors.  I wandered, "How can I possibly stand amongst these "giants"?"  I stood quiet at first, listening to their updates and stories. I realized that I earned the right to be a proud graduate of Canoe U and that even these heroes had angst and insecurities.  I wasn't so different after all.  My classmates were interested in my story just as I was interested in theirs.  As I continued to process the dynamics in the room, I realized that I truly was surrounded by people driven, like me, to change the world.  How did this happen?  These amazing people were not "giants" but incredibly smart and energetic people performing just as USNA trained us for while we spent "four years together by the bay."  Our drive, results, determination, and dreams are no accident, it is by design.  Those who came before me and those after me are in the same boat (pun intended).

I did not realize the magnitude of impact that Annapolis and the people I met while there continue to have on the woman I am today BUT I do now!! While not every member of the great class of 1998 was able to personally attend the reunion, I thought about each and every one of them raising children, running businesses, leading sailors and marines, deployed abroad, and those laid to rest for eternal peace. I am thankful to all of my classmates, professors, leaders, and soldiers for helping me to get where I am and for standing by me when I needed help.  I am ready to return the favor.

As I walked the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery today, I wrestled with the guilt of taking each breath when there were thousands of my brothers and sisters in arms who can no longer do so.  I promised today to make a difference in the world in their honor.  I promised to reach out to veterans to help them up when they feel down.  I promised myself to use the amazing strength, training, and education that USNA shared with and taught me because I owe it to all those who helped me get where I am today.

Thank you USNA Class of 1998 for a great weekend, USNA 35th & 2nd CO for being family, 1-1 Aviation for teaching me to be a warrior and Bobby, Jen, Steph, and Jeff for your service to country and being family, friend, and mentor for the last 14 years!!

I am proud to serve!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I couldn't say it better! Dedicated to USNA Class of 1998

30 things to do today to propel yourself to Make the Change!  Wonderful advice for us all and reminds me to be thankful for the USNA class of 1998.  I would be lost if not for them.

I leave in 2 days to celebrate our 15th reunion with the mighty '98.  The truly amazing people that I had the opportunity to get to know for 4 years in Annapolis, MD are responsible for holding me up and helping me move forward when I was my own worst enemy.  I was a smart, adventurous, and pretty girl who didn't know how to have confidence and love herself.  My roommates and friends at USNA helped me discover myself and often saved me from my self destructive behavior.

It's NEVER too late to create a new ending!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

5 Vital Tools for Postive, Productive, and Clear Communication

     Talking about communication can easily be a multi-part series; however, this entry and the October 28, 2013 Make the Change podcast serve to highlight 5 Vital Tools for Positive, Productive, and Clear Communication the high points, give you a few effective tips to help improve your communication, and maybe even approach how you give and receive communication from a different perspective.

Why do I want/need Positive, Productive, and Clear Communication?
     We all need less stress and more effective production in life, both personally and professionally.  If we spent less time dealing with "drama", just think how much more productive and effective we can be each day.  "Drama" is generally the result of misunderstood, improperly delivered, or lack of communication.  As you read below, remember that your personality, where you come from, your views and values, as well as, the culture you live in (to name just a couple of the factors) all affect how you deliver and receive communication.

What is Communication? 
      Google defines communication as "the imparting or exchanging of information or news" and "the means of connection between people or places.."

We Communicate in 3 ways; Verbal, Nonverbal, and Written
     Communication is not only what you say and how you say it; it can be how you dress, the company you keep, the music you listen to, the care you drive, etc.  Most importantly, its how a particular person, group, culture perceives your words, actions, and writing.

5 Vital Tools for Positive, Productive, and Clear Communication
1. Assume Positive Intent - People generally wake up and pledge to do their best each day, they don't usually set out to aggravate and frustrate you.  Practice patience and when all else fails, remind yourself to assume positive intent.  
2. Practice Tolerance - This does not mean to change or alter your message, but to understand that not everyone sees the whole as you do; therefore, your message may not be received or believed.
3. Assess your Audience and change the way you deliver your message - This does not mean to alter your views or values, but to adapt your delivery to the audience.
4. Analyze you Message before you communicate it - be critical, inquisitive of yourself.  Analyze how you believe the message will be received and anticipate the questions or resistance you may receive.  The "play by play" will likely be different than you imagine it, but you will be prepared and handle any situation with confidence.  
5. Have Confidence and own your message - verbal, nonverbal, or written.  If you don't believe in it, why should anyone else believe it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Family - To Find, Forgive, or Forget?

I am sitting here enjoying a lazy night of World Series junk food and mindless internet window shopping and blog maintenance; thinking about how much I love just existing in the same space as my husband and our children.  I love interacting with them, but I also love just knowing that we are all in the same place even when we are not doing something physically all together.  I am not close to either of my parents presently.  I was close to both of them at different times when I was younger, but we've grown distant in the last decade or so.   I still see them ever couple of months and they make an effort to contact the kids on holidays. I am certain that I have equal part in the separation, and need to do some more soul searching to figure out what I can do differently. More importantly if I should do anything differently to improve our relationship or just let it be what it is presently and be thankful for the relationship and time that we have together.  I often find myself buried in frustration because the relationship is not what I hope or expect.  I attempted conversation with both parents, separately because they are divorced.  While our interaction changes briefly (as a show of mercy, I think); it always reverts to the infrequent and subtle frustrated version for all parties. 

Family is such an interesting concept.  I have friends that I consider more family than some of my actual blood family.  I know that some of that is my military brat upbringing and even more to do with my military service during which I was lucky enough to meet my husband and three best friends, who are without question "my family".  As I matured into adulthood, my concept of life, love, politics, responsibility, and opportunity greatly changed from some of the concepts that my parents believe and those that affect their current behavior.  I, without question, love them.  I know that I am more tolerant with political differences and life choices that differ from mine with complete strangers than I am with family and close friends.  I am critical of myself, my family, and my friends.  I have little tolerance for whining and even less for people who do not learn from life's lessons and continue to repeat the same bad decisions or marinate themselves in pity for the bad decisions they've made instead of moving forward and making better ones.  I believe severely that people have an obligation to themselves and each other to realize their potential and set plans to achieve their goals. 

The most profound part of being a soldier and a "brat" is that friends from the military can not talk for years and when we run into each other, its as if we just spoke yesterday.  I do not have that kind of relationship with most of my blood relatives.

There are, also, the family members that I never really got to know growing up; cousins, aunts, uncles, great aunts and uncles, etc.  Quite honestly neither I nor they made the effort to really establish and maintain a relationship since I became an adult and responsible for my own actions, relationships, and decisions. 

So, I am at a place in life where I now need to consider if, for the sake of my children, I need to reach out to the long lost, forgive the ones that I had/have a "beef" with, or to just forget it and let my kids surround themselves with the family and friends that we know loves and supports us and who we love and support.

Is it time to Make the Change to allow myself to accept life and my family relationships for what they are and let go of the frustration for what they are not or time to Make the Change to make more of an effort to establish, fix, or improve my (our) family relationships?

It is time to Make the Change!