11 November 2010

To My Brothers and Sisters Who Wear or Have Worn the Uniform, I'm Grateful for Your Service

Today is a holiday for some—a day off work, a day to go shopping and save big. But for me, today is a day filled with gratitude. I am grateful for those who serve or have served our country in uniform. I am grateful that there are organizations such as Dryhootch and Vets4Vets that help Veterans find someone to talk to who knows what its really like, and programs such as The Mission Continues, Soldiers Heart, and the Coming Home Project that help veterans find a new direction and reintegrate into their families. And I’m grateful for all the artists who have or are participating in the Vet Art Project in cities such as Chicago, Seattle, and Pittsburgh who are creating new opportunities for Veterans and their family members to explore self expression, find new meaning, understanding, and opportunities to share their stories to help those of us who have not served in uniform to sense what its really like. It’s this kind of sharing, between Veterans and Civilians that may benefit and strengthen our communities the most.

Veterans Day is one day that our nation acknowledges those who serve, but they serve every day and so every day can be Veterans Day if we learn to show our gratitude. Why gratitude? Because I cannot do what I do, and you cannot live your life and make the choices you want and exercise your freedoms if this was a country that didn’t or couldn’t protect personal rights. This is not a political issue—it’s not about us and them—it’s about we as in We the people, in order to form a more perfect union . . . because the foundation of our country rests upon a tapestry of intricate connections that support and sustain our communities, and everyone plays a part. And no matter what our personal beliefs about wars in general or one war in particular, we must be for our fellow citizens, we must support our men and women in uniform because they are an important part of our communities. Those in uniform serve and their family members serve, too.

I am grateful today, too, for the VA policy change for PTSD care for service members and veterans where cause no longer needs to be documented, and PTSD screening is provided on demand with an automatic assumption that a person’s symptoms are caused by stress during service and treatment is provided (Arizona Republic, November 9, 2010, p. A7). This change in policy will especially benefit women in uniform because their support roles often put them in direct and indirect danger yet they cannot tie their combat stress to one particular incident (the previous criterion). It’s not a perfect system but it’s better, and I’m grateful for these changes. And I will be grateful the day when spouses and children of those who serve are extended support and care for the role they play in their family member’s service.

We, as members of the community, can do our part, too. Beginning today, think about how you can show your gratitude. And wake up tomorrow and do it all over again, just as those who serve in uniform do. Ask yourself each day, what am I doing to sustain our community?

01 November 2010

A Life-Altering Teaching: The Medicine Wheel & 12 Step Program for Women

Hello My Friends,
I'm just back from an amazing workshop in Colorado Springs. Offered at the Wellbriety Institute (whitebison.org). This program incorporates the principles, values, and teachings of Native American elders into a program that teaches you how to live a more connected life--more connected to the land, our place in the world, a path to wellness without using substances to mask or enhance experiences, and to build communities of support. I learned, too, that the AA philosophy and its founders were influenced by Native American traditions, which Dr. Bob & Bill Wilson explored as they created their own paths to wellness.
This organization offers a variety of programs for adults and youth; they've even started a program to help those transitioning out of prison. On the White Bison Web site you can find listings for weekly Talking Circles that are held around the country to help people find the strength, support, and spirit to continue to take care of themselves and others to build stronger communities.
I am grateful to Don Coylis for building a welcoming home; to Sharyl Whitehawk and Marlin Farley for their teachings, their welcoming spirits, and their support; to my sisters from around the U.S. and Canada who encouraged, supported, welcomed, and sustained my spirit throughout the day, from greeting the sun, through our workshop day, and into the evenings exploring the breathtaking lands of Colorado.

I also want to share a wonderful book by Jamie Sams titled The 13 Original Clan Mothers: Your Sacred Path to Discovering the Gifts, Talents, & Abilities of the Feminine Through the Ancient Teachings of the Sisterhood. Originally published in 1993 by Harper Collins, this book came into my life because I was ready for it. I hope you're ready for it, too. It's an opportunity to invest in yourself, explore and acknowledge your talents and abilities, and move through the world with a renewed mission to self and helping others.