Wednesday, March 15, 2017

National LAMOPH Ways & Means Pashmina Sale





NATIONAL LAMOPH - WAYS & MEANS
is selling purple pashminas to raise funds!

A Pashmina is a warm scarf that is very versatile; the Pashminas measure 28 inches x 70 inches plus 3 inches of fringe. 

We have dark purple ones (like the image on the bottom) for sale for $10.

If you have ever traveled by car or plane, eaten in an air-conditioned restaurant, or spent an evening out, then a Pashmina will work for you! It is quite warm and perfect for travel.

Our goal is to have each Unit purchase five pashminas.
If you would like to purchase pashminas, please contact me at aflener1@gmail.com

I AM TAKING PRE-ORDERS for PICKUP the Region Conference. If you plan on attending, this will keep you or your Unit/Department from having to pay shipping costs. If you need the pashmina shipped the cost is $3 or can be combined and discounted for multiples. 

If your Unit or Department orders 28 or more, the shipping is free and direct to you.

Thank you in advance for your support!
Feel free to share with your Patriot members who may want to purchase for their Ladies!

Buy Now - Region IV Conference Pick up
April 22nd, 20017

Name of person picking up:

Monday, March 13, 2017

On Life, Love, and Greiving

Grief

Grief is an ugly...word. A necessary term that envelops so much. Where to even begin? Chances are you've heard about K├╝bler-Ross and her stages of Death and Dying. You're probably thinking tears, moaning and groaning and crying out....memorial services and a burial. But what about when your grief involves the living? Maybe you've heard the term Anticipatory Grief. That is grieving the loss of someone before they are gone. What happens when you grieve not because someone has died but because a dream or a lifestyle or a future is not as anticipated? Are you following?

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, & Acceptance

Grief doesn't just mean that a loved one has died or is dying. I've explained to so many people over the years that the grief process is like a ladder....those stages of death and dying can be conquered and yet one can fall back down just to have to climb up them again. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, & Acceptance are the familiar stages we discuss or lay out to conquer. Yet, have you ever grieved over a life that didn't turn out like you planned? A future of hopes and dreams cut short or changed from what you anticipated? A child that strayed down a difficult path. A separation of relationship? In talking about our caregiver journeys we mention grief a fair amount. 

A few years ago, I wrote a Blog titled, "When my White Picket Fence no longer Matched the American Dream" and outlined how facing our difficult our circumstances had been challenging. Different from that normal life we envision.

Turns out I realized a while back that I'd been grieving for a long time. I'd been mourning the things that weren't set to my imagined or anticipated ideals. I wanted to be in control of so much. Of my life, of my career, of my family and our future. Grief isn't just something that you get over either. Whether you've literally lost someone close or whether you are in mourning over something else, there is no magical switch that we can flip to get over it or shake it off. Sure, there are things we can do to alleviate the symptoms and help us move on....but grief has no timetable. When we are dealing with lifelong illnesses, injuries, and disabilities, that process of grief can come and go for decades.

Hope, Dreams, & Plans

Just because you've lost, mourned and grieved doesn't mean that you can't have hope. I have a substantial amount of hope. We have an increasing amount of good days, or rather I choose to see them that way. We have choices about our attitude and outlook on our day, our week, our schedule, and our future. We can embrace life and make decisions that give us positive outcomes for our families. We can travel, take trips, visit friends and family, reach out and hold each others hand, and just overall relish in the delight of the simple things without getting caught up in what we wish were different.

I was such an independent child and student growing up. I got good grades. I studied hard. I finished an entire year of college before I ever graduated from High School. I wanted to make a difference in the world. My parents always taught me I could be anything I wanted to be. I went to college, got three degrees, and bought a business in my early 20's. I bought a house while my husband was deployed. He literally came home from his last deployment to a home he'd only seen in photos and a new business in a town he'd only visited once.  We had big aspirations.

Wounds of War & Beyond

Leaving to go back to Iraq in 2004 after two weeks home 

John came home from war wounded. Wounded in more ways than we would know. You can't even begin to treat things that you don't know about. He hid his symptoms best he could. He didn't want to talk about the horrific events and accidents that happened. So, we spent years getting diagnoses and help for injuries related to combat.

In the meantime, We had two boys....beautiful handsome boys. They woke frequently and secretly I was envious of all the moms on Facebook posting how their infants were sleeping so well. Mine didn't sleep well for years. I lost sleep. I have been tired for the better part of a decade. We also had two miscarriages. Those happened before the dawn of our social media appearance so many don't know about that. But that was a struggle. For a while, it was difficult to go to friends baby showers.

With two young boys and a husband with disabilities,  life started beating me up. It was brutal. I couldn't work like I wanted to. I had to hire people to do the jobs that I should be able to do. I had to depend on others to do work that I was responsible for and ultimately, I had to be content with letting things go. I had to let a lot of things go. I had to start staying at home more. While once I had a full time nanny and housekeeper, I had to spend a season focusing more on my own family. Stepping back from my career.  Giving up my business. Giving up many of my personal indulgences.  Even my me time of teaching had to go. It was hard.

There was a season where I literally couldn't always even make it to the store when we needed milk or toilet paper and a few people were kind enough to randomly ask if they could assist to bring us things. Some just showing up at times with a hot and home cooked meal.  God Bless them. My family has stepped up and helped more than I can ever count, mention, or repay.

I've cried over life. I've cried over situations. I've shook my head at diagnoses and the calendars as they fill with appointments, wondering how we juggle it all. I've grieved over that normalcy of life that we missed. I've felt inferior at times in dealing with the enormity of existence and responsibility of caring for my family. 

In Memory of the Picket Fence

After one of those moments of grief and wiping tears last year, my husband randomly asked, "Do we need to get the truck and go to the store and get you some picket fence?"

"You read my blog!" I said as I wiped some tears. "No. I really don't need it. It wouldn't match our house now anyway," I told him. And we kept driving to our destination.

I don't have to have a white picket fence to have hope in our future or to better avoid any future moments of grief as they may hit without warning. Part of my picket fence is dead and buried and the other part still stands in our memories. 

We are doing well right now. This year, 2017, has been a year of change and transition for us. Life still presents its challenges but we tackle them. Hopefully we tackle them with grace and love and not like a stumbling circus act on stilts.  If you're reading this and have loved and experienced lost.... bless you. If you're reading this and loved and stuck somewhere in that grief jungle... bless you. Know that you are not alone and there is Hope going through it and on the other side.

Monday, October 19, 2015

When life gives you...Caregiving

I would dare say anyone signs up for this life. While many of us are military spouses or parents, we know well the worst case scenarios that might happen when our loved ones go off to war. But in reality, when the days, weeks, months, and years after the war and accidents have come and gone, many of us search for peace and joy in the smallest of things.


Maybe we didn't sign up for it, but we are Caregivers.


We are the wives, mothers, children, spouses, friends, and more who fill the gaps for our loved ones. We support them. We may be their eyes, ears, hands, companions, and chauffeurs. Often we wear the hat of cook and cleaner, master scheduler of the home, taxi driver for the kids, and accountant of our finances.

Life can suck us dry if we let it. Life throws hard punches and we fight back. How do we fight back? We advocate for our veteran...for the person we provide care for. We assist them in everything they need help with from dressing and dishing out medicine, to helping him or her be more independent.

So what can we do for ourselves when we feel like we are worn thin? We can take a long and steamy bath. Take a moment. Take two minutes to relax. Read a good book or sit outside and listen to the birds. Relish our cup of coffee with no interruptions.


Take Two


Today I can slice a lemon for my glass of water, savor the fresh, clean smell as I cut it, squeeze all the juice out that I can and add it to a pretty pitcher or glass. Enjoy it. Experience it. I could hastily run the tap quickly and guzzle a plastic cup full of aqua down, as I do frequently...or I can turn this everyday moment into a treat.




I can have my cup of coffee without interruption before everyone else wakes. I can bask in the almost
silence around me. I can experience the warmness from my hands holding the cup to the creamy liquid coursing down my throat as I enjoy the moment I am making for me....just me.


What's going on around you at this very moment?


Do you hear the dishwasher or the hum of the air conditioner? Do you hear chirping outside your window? Is the TV playing in a room close by? Is a child making noise or are cars zooming by within earshot?

Take a moment to ground yourself in the present. Be aware. Be mindful. Experience life and find some way to make the average extraordinary. Find a way to find peace and joy in your day....even if it only takes two minutes.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June is PTSD Awareness Month


June is PTSD AWARENesS MONTH 
Amended from Amanda Flener’s September 2012 blog
Published in the May/June MOPH Chapter 1000 Newsletter

What does PTSD look like?
"I'm fine, how are you?"

Many years ago, a certain veteran I know thought PTSD didn't exist.  He believed it was weakness.  It was in one's mind.  It was imaginary.  Those were irrational beliefs that started in his early Army days.  Superiors would drill into the soldiers that they were strong and they could handle anything.  They were tough.  Thought they couldn't be beat.  PTSD was in the mind of the weak.  It wasn't real.  PTSD was for cowards.  PTSD was for sissies.  


Needless to say, when obvious symptoms of nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety crept in, a soldier programmed with the above nonsense would deny it.  Denial.  A human's most effective and most important defense mechanism.  Denial is the soldier saying, "I'm good.  No problems. Can't complain." He picks up and carries on.  Or does he?  Does a warrior battling these inward emotions and issues really think that he's alright? Maybe he really does or maybe he has a war within his very being.  Likely he is struggling with the real plague of PTSD symptoms and that programming of "Suck it up soldier."

"I'm fine" is such a typical response.   Americans mutter this incessant chat without even thinking about it.  It seems innocent enough, yet it is affirms a stereotypical aspect of our society.  We're good.  We're well.  We maintain appearances and a Persona that we are whole, healthy, successful, and without problems.  Most people utter the usual, "Hi. How are you?" without ever wanting or caring what the addressed party has to say or how they truly are.   They expect a thoughtless, "I'm fine. How are you?" in return with none other than a "Doing well" type response.  

For starters, I don't ask one how he or she is unless I truly want to know or I care.  I think I began thinking this way sometime during my first year of graduate school when I was studying Clinical Psychology and we were challenged to be more aware and genuine in our interactions.  

If someone asks me, "How are you?" He or she should likely back up for an atypical response.  "Tired" may be a likely response if I sense that someone is in a hurry or simply uttered the phrase without conscious concern.  However, if you sincerely ask me, "How are you?" you might want to sit down for a more sincere answer.  On the rare occasion a stranger or acquaintance asks how I am and I reply with a quick and hurried, "Fine." I back up and internally shake myself.  I really do.  I ask myself, "Are you fine today? Perhaps. If not, I that's how I shake myself back into a greater awareness of how I am.  Now we'll get back to PTSD.

Now, maybe you can see how PTSD is an invisible illness.  

People with PTSD can often hide or mask their symptoms.  They can recede into their own homes and personal lives, avoiding interaction when they don't feel like dealing with people or the world.  They can learn great (or so they think) coping skills, like denial, so it appears that they are fine.  

However, when one wants to really conquer PTSD and conquer his symptoms of the illness without it dictating life as he knows it, a few things have to change.  The hardest part is acknowledging that PTSD exists and it is real and it is happening to you or your loved one.  Not covering up or making excuses leads to a greater acknowledgement of the illness and symptoms.  Unfortunately, I think about all the years that we simply covered up or made excuses for the ugly symptoms and actions resulting from PTSD.  Looking back, it didn't do anyone a favor.  Now we make the covert overt.  We acknowledge it. We talk about it when we can and we are more honest.  A doctor or mental health professional cannot help what they don't know about.  Your family cannot be encouraging or supportive if they don't know the honest truth about what is going on.  Your spiritual network, church, or confidants can't lift you up in prayer and thoughts if they are not aware of the situation.  

Few people are discerning enough to take an "I'm fine" response and decode when you are actually not "fine" and offer the help and support that is essential in making progress with PTSD or other aspects of your life.  It is essential to open up.