8.29.2008

Now I'm excited

McCain picks Palin for VP slot


OUT FREAKIN STANDING.


I've not been this excited about an election EVER. I about danced around the living room in my jammies this morning when I read the announcement. Never mind that I'm partial because we used to live in Alaska, this woman comes as close to perfect (in my mind. Obviously I don't speak for anyone other than myself) for a VP as it gets.


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I can't stop grinning.




Pau.




- hfs

8.27.2008

All the Way Home

I am rarely at a loss for words. I just finished watching "All The Way Home - Bravery on the Homefront", produced by Edward Nachtrieb and I am speechless. It is an incredible account of disabled veterans and their struggle to not only face their challenges but to beat them.


Three years ago, Montana fishing outfitter Mike Geary was inspired by news reports to organize fly fishing trips for disabled veterans down one of the American West’s most isolated rivers. In this film, we meet a group of veterans that reflects the diversity of challenges facing our returning soldiers. Some, on leave from Walter Reed Hospital, bear the obvious physical wounds of war while others cope with hidden traumas that are invisible, yet dangerous. With a backdrop of the breathtaking landscape of the American West, they share personal stories of war and the resulting challenges for them and their families after their return home. At the same time, a team of volunteers works tirelessly to make the trip an unforgettably positive experience.

The strength of character on display by both the veterans and the volunteers who serve them is a triumph of the human spirit.


The film takes you, along with a handful of veterans, down the Smith River in Montana. Throughout their time on the river - all put together by an incredible network of volunteers - they share their struggles, their experiences, and their emotions. The film allows you to catch a glimpse into the heart of these men and you find yourself, at the end of the movie, just wishing for a follow up to see that they have kicked their demons out the door and are succeeding beyond anyone's imagination.

Their physical wounds are healed or are healing. But the emotional toll of war takes much longer to heal. And sometimes never does. The volunteers that have put on this trip have given these veterans a chance to just relax and let their cares - their worries, their stresses, their pain - disappear.


We're sitting around the campfire and one of the guys - he, uh, he flat out said it. He's like, 'You know what? Sitting around talking to you vets...this is the best thing in the world. You know. This is the best therapy in the world. Is just sittin around talking with guys - you don't even know them. We've know each other for maybe 2 or 3 days. And just sittin' around talking with people that understand. You know. What you've been through. Because they've been there and they've done that as well. It, you know, it's really good therapy. For all of us.

Plus it's relaxing and you get to catch a few fish.
- Matt Kemp - Montana National Guard, Iraq Veteran

...

We wanted to be able to acknowledge their sacrifice, pay tribute to their valor, and respect their service. To acknowledge what they did. This is our way of doing it.
- Mike Geary - Lewis and Clark Expeditions

...

It's amazing in how something this easy can relieve so much pressure in a person. Here you're just sitting on the water, just floatin' and you don't have nothin' to think about except for the next fish you're going to catch - and how big. And to me that's the best thing you can ever think of. That's therapy right there.
- Brian Knowles - Montana National Guard, Iraq Veteran



The movie is a study of contrasts. Contrast the darkness that these men faced and that many of them are still facing with the beauty of the Smith River. Contrast the overwhelming brutalness of their experiences with the laid-back, easygoing nature of a fly-fishing trip. Contrast the stark world of Walter Reed and rehab with the pristine beauty of Montana. Most documentaries about PTSD and war wounds are cold, detached, and distant.

This one is not. "All The Way Home" is an incredible look into the heart of these men who have been through more than most of us can comprehend and you find yourself hoping and praying that they all make it out to the other side.

A big part of me wonders if a large-scale implementation of fishing trips such as the one featured in "All the Way Home" would do more to help those with PTSD than all of the psychoanalyzation and therapy that we have in place now. How incredible would it be to try?



Ed Nachtrieb, the producer, has agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of "All the Way Home" to Soldiers Angels. You can pick up a copy of "All The Way Home" by going HERE. I would strongly encourage you to do so. Right now.





Pau.




- hfs

8.22.2008

Subbing - Day 1

Like riding a bicycle. It felt good to be back in the classroom again, even if it wasn't mine. Things went well and not only did one of the kids tell me that I was one of the best subs they had ever had, the teacher took down my name and number and said she'd love to have me sub again when she needs me.


*note to self...print business cards!*


I got off a little easy. This teacher didn't have a first period and her last period of the day was her planning period. So I only had 4 out of a possible 6 classes. AND Fridays are one of the short days. But it all went well and I learned a lot.


Most importantly I learned that I still remember how to do it. Woohoo! easiset $150 I've made in a long time!




Pau.




- hfs

8.21.2008

Jumping the rock

Went up to Waiamea Beach this morning with friends from church. A bunch of "my" kids (the kids I work with at church) convinced me to climb up The Rock and jump off. It's a LONG way down, let me tell you. Best way to clean out your sinuses - that's fo' sho! I thought I was going to hurl the first time I did it and I shook from the adrenalin rush for a while after I jumped.

The second time wasn't quite as never wracking and I managed to actually jump out away from the rock more this time (the first time I jumped, I didn't jump out). Definitely a rush!


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Photo courtesy of Digital Apoptosis.



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Photo courtesy of PortAloha.com.


The sign reads :
"Jumping diving can cause serious bodily injury or death. For your safety please stay off rock."




Yeaaaah. The way I see it, if I can work up the courage to jump off that rock, I can handle my first subbing job tomorrow, right?


We also snorkeled while we were there and were able to see several Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (otherwise known as a Reef Triggerfish) and even a honu (turtle)! Then it was off to Aoki's for shave ice. YUM!


Good way to start the day!




Pau.




- hfs

8.20.2008

Uncomfortable in my own skin

Ever since we made it back to the island from our trip this summer, I have not been able to get my feet under me. And I'm not sure why. I'm cranky and I don't like it. I don't like myself at the moment. Usually I'm quite comfortable in my own skin and in my life.


Right now? Not so much.


Is it because I have too much on my plate? Possibly. I'm getting ready to cut a few things back because I have several responsibilities - prior commitments and paying responsibilities - that take precedence over some of the things I'm going to cut. I hate to do that - I hate to admit that I can't do it ALL. But, after 36 years, I know myself pretty well and I know that some of the stress I'm feeling is because I've taken on too much. *sigh* I do so wish I were SuperWoman.


Is it because MacGyver is gone? I'm sure that's a part of it too. As much as I would like to believe that I *am* SuperWoman and I *can* do it all on my own, the fact is that life is not good, and I mean truly GOOD, unless he's here. It's like trying to drive a car on 3 full-sized wheels and a spare. You can do it but it's best not to do it for long and you'd better not try to operate at full speed.


Is it because I'm still dealing with my panic attack from the impending jump back into the working world? You betcha. Hopefully that will subside significantly after Friday's job.


When we were on the mainland, I longed for home. I longed for familiarity, for routine, for peace, quiet, and our daily life. What we walked into was a series of small disasters that I'm STILL cleaning up. Nothing life-threatening or devastating - just annoying and bothersome.


Which pretty sums up how I feel at the moment - annoying and bothersome. Ick.




Pau.




- hfs

8.16.2008

Let the panic attack commence

UPDATE: I managed to worry myself out of anything that resembled decent sleep last night. I fretted that the automated system would call me and I would be woefully unprepared. It didn't. However, just a few minutes ago, I *did* get a call and I have my first subbing job this coming Friday. EEK! At least I managed to get the printer working and have been able to print out both Sponge Activities as well as business cards.

I *still* feel horribly unprepared and panicky. It's that same feeling that I get before I jump into what I know is a cold pool. Only this lasts longer. I'm sure, after the first day, I won't be so stressed. I hope.


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*



I'm not one for new situations or change. I don't react well to them. Don't know why but they make me anxious.


So today I finally registered with the automated calling system for the local school district. What this means is that I am now on the payroll to be a sub. At the middle school (to start with. Eventually I will add the high school to my availability.).


Yes, this is what I want (well, aside from the perfect swim coach position which isn't going to present itself until my children learn how to swim well enough to be ON the swim team while I coach) and yes, I am excited. But the flip side to that excitement is my anxiety.


It's been almost seven years since I set foot in a "for real" classroom. Granted, I've raised 2 small children, taught many church-related classes for both the middleschoolers and the highschoolers at our church, helped out with a homeschooling co-operative, etc. But it's been SEVEN years since I've worked within the confines of a school district and I've *never* subbed.


There are all of the self-doubt questions: what if I can't hack it? What if they hate me? What if I can't handle an unruly student? What if the lesson plans suck or I run out of things to do? Whatifwhatifwhatif...? Grr!


I've not yet received any calls for jobs. Logistics are set for the kids - school, after-school care, drop off times, etc. And who knows when I'll actually get a call? In the mean time, I'll be using my free time to get things done around the house (currently I'm replacing the innards of my toilet upstairs as the refill thingy decided to spring a leak and I chose not to call the landlord to fix it. That's another post.), renewing my scuba diving certification (maybe I'll even go for my Advanced Diver cert), finish painting the baseboards and trim in the house, read more, start my CrossFit training, etc.


No bon-bons and soap operas for me! Now excuse me while I go back to my panic attack.



Pau.




- hfs

8.14.2008

Lookit Lookit Lookit!!!

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My husband is the COOLEST. I won't be getting any sleep tonight.




Pau.




- hfs

Listening to

the new Sugarland album. Particularly Matt Nathanson's song that they covered - "Come on Get Higher".




I miss the sound of your voice
And I miss the rush of your skin
And I miss the still of the silence
As you breathe out and I breathe in

If I could walk on water
If I could tell you what's next
I'd make you believe
I'd make you forget

So come on, get higher, loosen my lips
Faith and desire and the swing of your hips
Just pull me down hard
And drown me in love
So come on, get higher, loosen my lips
Faith and desire and the swing of your hips
Just pull me down hard
And drown me in love

I miss the sound of your voice
Loudest thing in my head
And I ache to remember
All the violent, sweet
Perfect words that you said

If I could walk on water
If I could tell you what's next
I'd make you believe
I'd make you forget

So come on, get higher, loosen my lips
Faith and desire and the swing of your hips
Just pull me down hard
And drown me in love
So come on, get higher, loosen my lips
Faith and desire and the swing of your hips
Just pull me down hard
And drown me in love

I miss the pull of your heart
I taste the sparks on your tongue
I see angels and devils
And God, when you come on
Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on

Sing sha la la la
Sing sha la la la la

Ooo Ooo Ooo...
So come on, get higher, loosen my lips
Faith and desire and the swing of your hips
Just pull me down hard
And drown me in love
So come on, get higher, loosen my lips
Faith and desire and the swing of your hips
Just pull me down hard
And drown me, drown me in love

It's all wrong, it's all wrong
It's all wrong, it's so right
So come on, get higher
So come on and get higher
'Cause everything works, love
Everything works in your arms.



Seems to fit my mood today. Which is better than yesterday's mood (which wasn't helped by the Red Bull I tried. Yeah, I was already feeling unsettled and that sure didn't help. Thanks Brad.)




Pau.




- hfs

8.11.2008

Veteran Treatment Court

It is estimated - and some would say UNDERestimated - that 30 percent of returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer from some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The studies are out there:

* Mental Health Injuries Scar 300,000 Troops
* One In Five Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Suffer from PTSD or Major Depression
* Thousands of Veterans Return With Mental Illness


Thousand of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines returning from war suffer from the effects of PTSD and turn to drugs and/or alcohol to help numb the pain and keep the flashbacks at bay. A study conducted in 2005 by the Pentagon shows approximately one quarter (24.5%) of soldiers (in the Army) considered themselves to be regular heavy drinkers - consuming five or more drinks at a time at least once a week. In 1998, that figure was only 17.2 percent.


Thousands of those servicemembers find themselves in court, facing the legal consequences of their behavior. In Buffalo, New York, Judge Robert Russell has implemented the Veteran Treatment Court after counting more than 300 veterans in the local courts the year prior.

"The reality is, we knew we had to do something now ... because soon we're going to have 400,000 coming home," says Hank Pirowski, who heads Judge Russell's staff. He says a lot of the veterans they've seen got into trouble because they were dealing with the aftermath of combat. (Court Aims to Help Vets With Legal Troubles, NPR)



The Veterans Treatment Court does not let offenders off lightly. According to Russell the court handles primarily non-violent offenses. Veterans required to get mental health or addiction counseling, find jobs, stay clean and sober and get their lives back on track. They are required to report back on a monthly basis to update the court on their progress. The judge says that the typical veteran will remain in the treatment court for a year or more before their progress is deemed sufficient and their charges reduced or cases dismissed.


Each defendant in the Veteran Treatment Court is assigned a mentor who is also a veteran. Currently, there is a waiting list for those positions. The mentors are primarily made up of Vietnam vets who are more than willing to do for current veterans what was never done for them. Each defendant is also assigned a public defender that expects them to be actively involved in their own case.


In addition, the courtroom also has present a substance abuse treatment specialist from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA specialist has a laptop that allows instant access to defendants' records, appointment tracking, and access to government benefits and services that the defendant may not know exist.


The program has been so successful that Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have introduced the Services, Education, and Rehabilitation for Veterans (SERV) Act to create veteran drug treatment courts to support veterans combat the cycle of alcohol or drug addiction. The SERV Act is modeled on the Veterans Treatment Court in Buffalo.

"For those who have given so much for our country, we should address the serious issues of drug and alcohol addiction in an appropriate forum that recognizes that some veterans fall victim to substance abuse as a way to handle post-traumatic stress. It's well past time we offered our veterans services worthy of their sacrifice."

...

"War exacts a tremendous psychological toll on the warrior and unfortunately some veterans turn to drugs and alcohol for solace," said Patrick Campbell, Chief Legislative Counsel for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). "As a grateful nation, we must honor the service of our fighting men and women by providing them alternatives when they run afoul of the law. The SERV act will offer struggling veterans a lifeline through the darkness. Veterans will still be held accountable for their actions, but will be given an opportunity to heal and find their way home."



It is the least we can do.




Pau.




- hfs


(cross-posted at Military Etc....)

8.10.2008

Dara Torres is my hero

Dara Torres


She's 41 and competing in her FIFTH Olympics. She has 10 medals (4 gold, 2 silver, and 4 bronze medals), five of which came at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. She also has a 15-month old baby girl.


And yet, she kicks BUTT in the pool! I watched an interview with her last night where she talked about the OB's reaction to her question about when she could get back in the pool after JUST having delivered her daughter.


She was a hero even when I was in high school. She swam in the same section (CIF Southern Section) that I swam in and her records STILL stand. Watching her swim the anchor leg in the 4x100m Freestyle Relay was awe-inspiring. Her 100m split was one of the fastest 100m splits in the history of the Olympics.


Incredible.


If this 41 year old mom can win medals at the Olympics, the rest of us really don't have any excuses, do we?




Pau.




- hfs

8.09.2008

Crap.

I'm messing with my layout/template (again) and managed to FUBAR the whole thing. Grr. I restored what I thought was a complete backup but I now see that I've managed to lose all but the basics (i.e. I have lost all of my widgets - columns on the sidebar, extra graphics for things like my tip jar and the milblogging conference, etc.).


Damndamndamndamn.


Please bear with me as I try to undo my screw up. Grr.




UPDATE: Ok, I managed to get it all back up (I think.). Good grief, what a PITA. That will teach me to go checking out other layouts. Actually, no it won't. I'm still on the prowl. However, next time I'll be better prepared.




Pau.




- hfs

Growing

One of the things I loved to do as a kid was grow things. Dad and I would plant carrots and radishes and we always had tomatoes growing. This was in addition to the fruit trees (navel and valencia oranges, tangerines, pomegranates, white grapefruit) and other things growing in our backyard. Ah, the joys of living in Southern California!

The beauty of living in Hawaii is that it's pretty much prime growing season year-round. So the kids and I decided we wanted to plant a garden. But because we live in a rental, digging up a plot in the backyard isn't really an option. Instead, we decided to plant a container garden.

Earlier this week Little Man and I planted carrots, radishes, tomatoes (and marigolds), and a bunch of different herbs. We ran out of soil so once I get more, Princess Trouble is going to help me plant the rest of the tomatoes, the sunflowers (had to get some - the kids begged!), the lettuce, and the spinach. This will be in addition to the multiple pineapple plants we have growing out back as well.

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We are already starting to see sprouts in one of the buckets. I didn't label them so I'm not sure what's what just yet. The kids are beyond excited. If this goes well, we'll look into planting beans and peppers next. I'm excited too - I love digging in the dirt and it's a perfect science lesson for the kids as well! (not to mention, with food prices - produce in particular - shooting up faster than my plants, it will ease the burden on the food budget too. AND I might even be able to tempt my children in to actually eating a tomato...)




Pau.




- hfs

8.05.2008

My new gig

A few weeks back, I mentioned a job possibility. Seems I forgot to follow up and let you all know what I am doing (because I know you're all waiting with baited breath...). I am working for MilitaryConnection, administering their forums and trying to get a new blog up and running.

The blog is an extension of the main site and forums and is titled Military Etc....
Our goal is to try to stick to topics that relate to the mission of MilitaryConnection (primarilyemployment and educational opportunities, resources, and information for both veterans and current military members). In addition, we will be featuring a different milblog twice a month as a way to spread the word about milblogs as well as MilitaryConnection. Our first featured milblog is Armed and Curious. If you haven't already heard of it, go check out the review and then go check out his blog!

For me, it's a great way to delve deeper into the resources that are available, veteran's issues, the new GI Bill, and anything else that happens to hit my radar. Only now I'm getting paid for it. Works for me!

So head on over to the blog or the forums and check them out. Leave a comment or put up a post. And, if you don't mind, pass the word along! Blogs and forums are only interesting if there is dialog and I can't spend ALL my time talking to myself!




Pau.




- hfs

8.04.2008

I never thought I'd say this

I miss Alaska.


We were there from 1999 to 2002. My baby girl was born there. I miss it and I find that I miss it more the longer we are gone.


When MacGyver first received orders to Alaska (it was his first duty station assignment) I was terrified to go. Everything I had ever heard about Alaska was intimidating, especially for a girl from Southern California. But our time there was awesome. Some of the best friends ever to grace our lives were met in Alaska. I learned to drive on black ice in Alaska. It was incredible.


Don't get me wrong - there were MANY days where the dark and the cold and the small-town mentality of Fairbanks was enough to make me want to run screaming from the state. But I had an incredible job and it was ALASKA! People go there for vacations and I LIVED there!


MacGyver loved it too. The flying was incredible - awe-inspiring and dynamic. The mission was a good one (though I suspect the mission has changed given the fact that the majority of our time there was before 9/11). The unit was a good one as well (God how we miss Major Young). He truly enjoyed flying there.


Alaska is definitely somewhere we both want to go back to. But we're both torn - the majority of his Army career has been spent OCONUS (outside the continental United States) and we long to be back on the mainland. But there is a BIG part of both of us that desperately misses the last great frontier.




*sigh*


I suppose it is a blessing to have lived in places that you miss as much as we miss both Alaska and Colorado.




Pau.




- hfs