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Tuesday Tunes – This Is Your Sign

August 2, 2022

There is the comedy routine of Here’s Your Sign many are aware of. Fewer are aware of Citizen Soldier and This is Your Sign. It’s a song that is on repeat for many people struggling…needing a reason to not give up and misunderstood by many.

It’s been a rough year for many. Some of the strongest people are seen as weak…are judged…are dismissed and insulted for just trying to cope with things that most don’t know about. This is a song that reaches through that cloud and just understands. Citizen Soldier has an incredible way of reaching the hurting that many don’t even see. But definitely worth a listen!

If you are struggling, reach out. There’s people who listen, who will just be. Listen…reach out if you need to. You are not alone.

The Importance of Dads

June 18, 2022

Father’s Day is too often cast aside as too many dads are. I know of several fathers who for reasons of control, do not get to spend time with their children this weekend. too often women think it’s somehow punishing the dad, whom they have issues with. They are oblivious to damaging the children.

This isn’t for abusive dads. It’s not forcing dads who don’t want to engage with their children to do so. It’s for good dads who are caring but parent issues become children issues.

Little girls wrap their minds around dads as how to be treated, valued, respected. When dads spend time just supporting they set expectations of how a man should treat them…which can be good or bad. Keeping your word, being a good man helps insure she will expect a boyfriend or husband to treat her the same or better.

Little boys learn, also, how to treat others. How to be a gentleman or how to manipulate and use…they’ll notice! By the same token, women who say they don’t need a man…kinda teaches sons they aren’t needed…for anything! When their mother doesn’t value men they are taking notes too as it molds them into be….men.

Men should be valued more than the 15th holiday on the list. Hearing stories has changed my views forever. Dads are critical, no matter what they drive or what job they have or don’t have…It’s too important to put off.

We maybe don’t fully appreciate much until our own fathers are no longer available. Like most, not perfect…and didn’t have to be! Those expectations…dad wasn’t why should another man be expected to be? Treasure the good…it’s more valued.

Thank you to the dads…sons…brothers…may you all have some time for you this weekend.

The Value of a Good Man

June 8, 2022

A friend did a TikTok video that generated some discussion. Sometimes heated discussion…simply a viewpoint. During men’s mental health awareness month, it deserves some discussion. Some thought anyway.

The mixed messages men get today are many. Women who have their own issues affect their sons who grow up to be….men! Men with an impossible standard to uphold. Be strong, be a provider, don’t cry, “man up” (I hate that phrase!), but as a man they’re also expected to be sensitive, cater to her, don’t show emotion, stuff it down and deal with it. When good men get jaded from their experience they’re wrong again for reacting to it. Good men do get mistreated also…even without a ‘reason’ other than being cruel. They don’t deserve that any more than women or children…but are expected to take it “or else.”

The last, say, year has brought some changes…and changes can be hard. Many don’t understand it, but even good changes can be hard. I think of a particular friend who changed much in my head when he didn’t have to…was not obligated to…the only benefit was mutual friendship. The confidence and positive he offered, going out of his way to help as he could…most would agree that’s a good man. Even that when he’s had some issues that are also difficult to deal with, some suggested dropping all contact. I can’t do that for one, and for two why is HE not allowed to legitimately deal with his own issues? Why on Earth punish him for it?! Honestly it kinda makes me…reactive…protective…Why am I allowed time to fix me but he isn’t? That says a lot.

@synicl3

Reply to @synicl3 We still exist, we’re just hard to find because we’re quiet in the darkness. #niceguys #relationship #datingadvice #couplegoals #bekind #respecteveryone #mensmentalhealth #haveaniceday

♬ original sound – Synicl3

I think of other men I know, in various ways…men I consider to be good men. Remember good men doesn’t mean just good single men…bigger picture. One will take time to listen occasionally…buddy chat, while at the same time taking care of his family and being a good human being in his community. Another makes time for friends as well as family when help is needed, in addition to caring for and supporting his own family and serving in the community he lives in, doing a thankless job expected to be done with perfection.

Another is struggling and feels a failure as due to life issues he’s not able to support a partner so remains depressed and judged by the weight of other’s expectations and his own. He is weighed down with lonely and rejection, and won’t let anyone in because they’ll leave anyway…also has made a difference in his community saving over 20 lives…yet is a failure? Women judge him for not enough money.

Another good man who comes to mind supports his small family by being the one managing the home, completely. Still another brings, like all of these men, good/bad is depending on what “side” you’re on. Defending a challenged single mom and her daughter is a good man…it’s his community and keeps a child from being a victim. Does it matter how he does it?

Sometimes good is something people think is perfect. None are perfect. I’m blessed to know these men and all will deny they’re good men but try. Yes, good men are out there in communities throughout the US. They’re not the only ones.

Some have some money, or a lot of money, but use it to control others. Power is a bigger factor…control…being able to manipulate a situation. Some people are absolutely just out for themselves, no doubt about it. Survival of the fittest don’t go away. Some manipulate just to use, some are more interested in taking than having a sincere positive situation, on any level. Too many will look you in the eye and lie. That doesn’t take away from the actions of the men earlier in the blog. Labels are for pickles but often it also depends how they’re treated too.

Appreciate good men…support them…encourage them! They are priceless! Value matters.

Tuesday Tunes – Save Your Story

June 7, 2022

Citizen Soldier has come out with another winner.

With a history of songs that reach to the depths of depression, the isolation of mental health issues, suicide, PTSD and so much more, people relate to their music. It won’t be on radio for the most part but is saving lives.

This one travels beyond…”Purpose lives and breathes”…! If you stayed strong “you are more than you’re enduring you can make it to the morning…all the pain is just a hero forming.” Lead singer Jake Segura knows from the inside…counseling people in Utah as well as dealing with the deep issues himself. It brings a clarity and, yes, darkness than imagining just doesn’t do. There is so much that just isn’t black and white but, as the television show, “a million little things.”

With relatable songs like “Weight of the World,” “Would Anyone Care”, “Waiting on the Sun,” and so many others, it’s a high bar to set to capture that without always having the focus a finality. Many live with the issues for years, sometimes managing better than others.

This is a recent release…give it a listen. A real listen.

The Ultimate Price

May 27, 2022

This time of year always hits hard…but it’s never getting easier. Most look at Memorial Day as a means of store sales, cookouts, maybe a parade or a thank you to a service member. Many say “Happy Memorial Day.” It’s not happy. It’s not ever happy when knowing names on that list….that list that gave the last measure and died in places like Fallujah, Ramadi Iraq, Kandahar, Tawara Afghanistan.

Marine Cpl Ronald R. Payne was just 23, from central Florida and serving his second tour of duty in two years. His story has been told in a song, “When A Hero Falls” by Stephen Cochran, who was there at the time and has paid a heavy price of his own. They served with the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C. On May 7, 2004 Ron gave up his life to save someone else. He had been a part of the initial invasion that went into Iraq and went to Baghdad. He returned to combat again in Operation Enduring Freedom. That song:

Army Pfc Oliver J Brown was from Pennsylvania and assigned to the 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. He was part of a Guard unit “adopted” by a group of Jeff Bates fans when they were called up. Dubbed “Operation Circle of Love” each person was connected with a soldier to send letters, encouragement, packages voluntarily. Although Ollie wasn’t “my soldier” the entire group felt his loss on September 28, 2005 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He signed up with his best friend, as many have.

In the wake, a friend preparing to go to the Marines said he wanted to be adopted. It started as a joke, as many things do. He went to training, and was sent to the Al Anbar province in Iraq with the Marine Forces Reserve’s 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division out of Lansing, MI. He hadn’t been there very long when the daily DoD email brought a familiar name. L/Cpl Troy D. Nealey. I read it multiple times. Surely it was a mistake…couldn’t be my Troy. Couldn’t be. Except it was. He’d been there a little over a month when he was killed October 29, 2006. No more teasing him about being from Tennessee (“MICHIGAN!” he would respond when I acted like I forgot where in TN he was…TN was his initials not state.) It had become a joke and he had truly made an impact on everyone he crossed paths with. His story lives on, as does the others with friends and family that will not let their memory leave. He might be surprised how much he’s missed by how many. Maybe not. But so much of life he didn’t get a chance to experience…and never, ever forgotten in this household. He was laid on rest on my birthday, Veteran’s day 2006 and there is not a birthday that goes by I don’t wish he’d give me a jab about getting old. He never got a chance to. July 15 brings a memory…other days bring memories. Jokes, pranks, agriculture…his memory remains in the hearts of many.

The last entry here – Army Sgt Schuyler B Patch, I didn’t know personally, but small town USA Galva Illinois knew he was on his second deployment with the National Guard. Also killed when the vehicle hit an IED was Sgt Scott Stream of Effingham IL in his third deployment during Operation Enduring Freedom, and Capt Brian M Bunting, Owasso Oklahoma and Sgt Daniel J Thompson on February 24, 2009 in Kandahar. So many families, friends affected.

It is not a happy holiday. It is not joyful. And for too many who served with them who came back, but changed from the memories of those days it doesn’t just go away as a final date.

Too many today don’t even see names anymore, stories, memories of the human beings they were in their respective communities. There are too many who are outright disrespectful. Remember them. All of them. Keep their memories alive remembering them…living that they couldn’t do.

Live For Them

May 26, 2022

The stories being shared recently are hard. From the mental illness stories to this week a focus on Memorial Day stories, because it’s truly not just a DAY. It’s every day. Today comes from a man who’s story should resonate all weekend. It’s hard to hear…listen anyway. Listen for James, who is one of many we remember on Memorial Day. Many are not on TikTok…listen and keep reading, please.

@12b_combat_gamer

my hardest story. I love you James and will always fight for you brother #rip #tilvalhalla #imissyou #imsorry #veteran

♬ original sound – 12b_combat_gamer

If this story doesn’t affect you, it’s far more about you than about them. This is not the only one who joined with a friend…another, from Pennsylvania, is one in another post. Although many are not on TikTok or other social media, feel free to leave a comment and I will make sure he sees it. He’s a good man, will talk to those he knows and doesn’t know even on what sometimes can be a difficult forum. These men are the faces we sent to do impossible jobs that they will pay for forever. Forever.

We owe them. It is many stories like this that add up. Every name you see, every grave, every memorial, every one lost has family, has friends who were there in those impossible situations affected. They deserve everything we can do for them. It’s beyond buying a meal or paying for their gas or other kindness in passing, although all of those are good. Some don’t wear anything indicating their service but are just as affected.

We owe them all. Remember James this weekend. When you go to that parade or BBQ remember him and his brothers left behind.

I’m sorry brother.

The Visuals

May 25, 2022

As many wait to see Top Gun: Maverick it’s a new wave of ‘supporters’. The view can change greatly…the big picture matters.

@belligerent.one

Log Entry // Day 23 — Almost 10k. But far from a million views. #semperfi #military #militaryappreciation #navy #army #airforce #memorialday @belligerent.one

♬ original sound – USMC.Vet

Consider the reality going through too many minds now. Let’s band together in respect around them. Listen. Value them. We all win.

Honor them

May 24, 2022

So often people talk of honor around Memorial Day but merely give lip service to it before a BBQ or sale.

Take the time to be as deliberate as this display. Unrushed. Respect. Let the full weight of what they’re doing sink in. They all can carry scars from serving…many unseen that people don’t understand so just judge and dismiss them.

Remember that Memorial Day, and the displays with it, isn’t all veterans. That falls to Veteran’s Day, which should be remembered every day. Memorial Day is for those who paid the ultimate price, and some think should remember the over 22 a day who die from their own hands directly or indirectly. Others live for the brothers and sisters that are thought of not just this day but who doesn’t leave their thoughts. Some of those will be remembered later this week.

But for today…really watch and take in this clip. It’s powerful.

Memorial Day Past and Present

May 23, 2022

This is a guest post that needs said. Credit to the organization and author is at the end of the piece. Call our veterans…check with them…listen to them without judgement. We need them…and they need us.

On Memorial Day, 1945, the war in Europe had ended but the fighting in the Pacific continued, Lt. Gen. Lucian Truscott voiced remarks at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery at Nettuno, Italy. Turning his back on the assembled VIP’s he faced the rows upon rows of headstones and apologized to the 20,000 fallen Americans who had been laid to rest far from home. He was quoted as saying, “All over the world our soldiers sleep beneath the crosses. It is a challenge to us – all allied nations – to ensure that they do not and have not died in vain.”

Fast forward to Memorial Day 2022, and the familiar voices of brothers in arms begin to call one another on the phone. People usually think of reconnecting with former military buddies as a joyous happening. However, for this Memorial Day, the topic of conversation was not an armistice, a promotion, or even a daughter’s wedding or new addition to a home, it was about the latest in a string of suicides that silence the voice of our brothers but brought renewed connections from other familiar voices. One desperately said, “Sir, I needed to call someone who could understand this.”

Everyone in the greatest generation understood war. At home they experienced rationing, schoolchildren collected scrap, and women took up factory jobs while overseas the troops endured combat and were witness to some of the largest and most brutal atrocities in the modern age. When the war was over, they followed the lead of Lt. Gen Truscott and committed their lives to ensure that they “have not died in vain.” The shared sacrifice of a generation united them and helped them solve tough problems.

In subsequent wars, such as the Korean and Vietnam era, Veterans did not experience the same level of understanding and thus either turned their voice inward or used their voice to fight for one another on subjects that varied from Agent Orange, PTSD, and other once-silent conditions.

The War on Terror introduced a unique time in our nation’s collective history as acts of war played out in real-time on our media devices. Although only one percent of Americans served post 9/11, it seems 100 percent of the country used their voice to express their opinions of this shared history as it unfolded.

For Korea and Vietnam Veterans, war was not a shared experience and therefore various voices having various opinions helped further the national conversation regarding the treatment of veterans leading to safer and more thoughtful approaches. Unlike the veterans of Korea and Vietnam, the veterans of the last several decades did not return home to the voices of dissent that could be addressed directly, instead, they returned to a polite nation that creates media of dissent and very little opportunity for honest, open dialog.

This new era of media, learning, and personal discussions bring rise to the question, “Do people really remember why we hold our veterans in a place of honor?” For years, voices saying meaningless phrases like “the enemy gets a vote” or “there’s nothing you could have done” were meant to comfort those of us who have held the heavy responsibility of leading troops in combat. However, many people seem to lack the understanding that our hearts have been forever scarred by the invisible wounds of war, scarred by guilt and grief, and by the longing for forgiveness that will never come. Even if forgiveness was offered, it would be hard to accept as no mere words can undo a life experience and because of this, we often feel isolated, misunderstood, and undervalued therefore our voices remain silent.

As conversations with the voice on the other end of the phone come to its inevitable conclusion, I am reminded that to remain silent is a betrayal of my obligation to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. As Horace Bushnell once said, the best thing for us to do is to remember “what they have put it on us to do for the dear common country to which they sold their life.” As we gather as one nation this Memorial Day, my hope is that instead of directing shallow words of gratitude at each other, we do as Lt. Gen. Truscott did and direct our gratitude directly towards those who made the ultimate sacrifice. In both our words and actions, let us all commit ourselves to serve the country to which they gave their lives.

While there is still much work to be done, the generation of Veterans from this century have access to vast resources, life-saving technology, and increased information. This same generation of Veterans is just now starting to define our post-service legacy and like our grandparents, return home with a deep commitment to service, and a desire to address the many problems that we face.

One such issue needing to be addressed is helping Veterans find purpose in their post-service lives. Truscott’s apology to the dead are not empty words, but a strong voice reminding us that we have an obligation to choose resilience and purpose when faced with guilt or grief. As an example, Gold Star Families, who have experienced tremendous loss, continue to serve their communities to maintain the legacy of the loved one they lost. I often recall a colleague of mine responding to the question “why do you do so much to help Veterans?” he simply held up his finger, choking back tears he responded, “for the one I couldn’t save.” By choosing to use his voice to advocate for other veterans, he not only helped them find their purpose – he found his own.

It’s often said that for those who have served “every day is Memorial Day,” a traditionally silent observance in the Veteran’s mind that can best be described as an impossible trinity made up of an overwhelming sense of guilt, grief, and grit. Usually, a moment of silence on this day is a welcomed and solemn way to honor the voices from our past, but for myself, after losing three former soldiers to suicide in the past few months, silence is no longer an option and the freedom to use our voice is the greatest gift that our veterans have to offer this Memorial Day.

Joseph Reagan is the Director of Military and Veterans Outreach for Wreaths Across America. He has almost 20 years experience working with leaders within Government, non-profit, and Fortune 500 companies to develop sustainable strategies supporting National Security, and Veterans’ Health. He served 8 years on active duty as an officer in the U.S. Army including two tours to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division. He is the recipient of multiple awards and decorations including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

To view resources for service members, veterans, and their families, please visit learn.wreathsacrossamerica.org/veteranresources.

River Of Time

May 22, 2022

Sometimes it’s hard to find words to really make a difference…sometimes finding the words to express ourselves is hard. When things bubble over it becomes impossible. Yesterday at the farmer’s market, after a spring of not getting done everything I wanted to because, well, frankly surviving and getting through the wave of stuff sucked the life out of other things. But pushing to keep the booth, to take *something* on opening day, took more effort than it should for what I had.

Aside from that, as part of the farmer’s market, I maintain the Facebook page for the group, including open day posts, scheduling things, answering questions. At a time I still want to hide and ignore the world I “have to” step out. After a couple months not being on Facebook much…checking a few minutes here and there during the day but not really engaging anyone…doing opening day posts was a stretch.

So I turned in last night and slept too hard for nightmares, apparently. But first thing on waking a dear friend came to mind. It’s complicated in a way and simple in others. Time for the dogs to go out and I did punch up online to check any messages overnight, check some other friend’s posts on another forum. I posted something that, when I played it, I thought of that friend again as it fit. OK…get up let’s move…wait someone I knew posted something…quick look. He had no idea…no idea of the rest of this paragraph but his post was an absolute 100% direct hit. Sometimes when it feels like there’s no win situation…do one thing and it risks that but do another and it risks something else. Breathe. Send a message and link…but uneasy both ways ’cause…well…it matters and if I listen to feelings it gets off track fast.

Pull it back. Music…always music. Sometimes Citizen Soldier, lately, sometimes older songs. Today it’s been a few songs including the Judds’ River Of Time.

“Flow on, river of time. Wash away the pain and heal my mind. Flow on, river of time, carry me away and leave it all far behind. Flow on river of time.”

Sometimes just the sound of a creek or running water is enough to be soothing…to distract and be in the moment as the dogs try to remind me often the last few months. Mercy is getting bigger…at her don’t wanna listen but eat everything stage. Hope…hard to believe she’s not far from a year old…I wasn’t sure she’d live beyond weaning. Digging in to an updated post from the Functionally Mental blog this week…need to…the pull is real and need to.

It doesn’t stop worrying about my friend…but *I* can’t take over his stuff especially when I’m challenged on my own! If only there was magic dust to solve everything. I swear I can be doing something and it’s like “squirrel” and off to the races like a pack of beagles. Attention span of a gnat some days. An example – I laughed way too hard at something:

@jhoadley61

#duet with @jimmydjonesiii absolutely. Ducks left but those squirrels!

♬ original sound – Jimmy Jones III

Yesterday I was sitting watching the crowds, observing people, selling stuff…and wanting to crawl into the van and drive of and leave everything. I had music playing…had put together a “soundtrack” for the booth this year and a small display that I thought was important…and personal. A couple tracks I guess the dust from the parking lot got stirred up because over the several hours “Semper Fi” and “Officer Down” got a not for public reaction I’m rethinking some. Sunglasses worked temporarily.

The annual meeting was going to be held and I knew a couple things needed to be brought up…and knew it would likely fall to me to do it. I knew that there was chances of moving the booth. This is the 6th year being at the market…I started in a booth on the fringe…kinda the edge of town kind of comparison…it flooded when we got a hard rain. When someone else didn’t renew several years ago, and I had a chance to get the corner booth I jumped at it. Connor helped climb up and put the farm sign up, put a tarp up to keep the rain off the north side when it really came down. The tarp and all came down last year, but the sign has been intact since wired up there. If I moved that would have to be cut down and moved…don’t ask me why that irrationally bothered me but it did. Not just a minor bother…a “I don’t want to move because he put it there and I gotta move it.” I didn’t say it was rational…I know it isn’t.

A couple other farms wanted to move over next to me…an empty booth remained in the “prime district” and as a seniority, it was a possibility. The sign…but the additional visibility would help that display. But the additional visibility meant more people and I already, at the end, was fighting to not bolt. Who says mental health is easy and makes sense? It sure doesn’t from this side sometimes. I don’t like change anyway…thus staying where I was. But the officers looked at me and instead of no somehow coming out of my mouth was “is that booth still available?” Yes. “I would but need to get my sign.” They looked at each other and, ever the gentlemen, had wire cutters and were tall enough to reach it from the table. I think I flinched as it came down.

So…New booth. I left and had a minor panic fit just thinking about it on the way home. Buckle up it’s gonna be…well…I don’t have any clue what it’s gonna be but I know it’s not going to be easy. I can list a long line of reasons to back out now but…promises, honest, It’s past backing out. Between this whole pile of stuff….most that probably most won’t ever see and don’t think about making what seems easy small decisions. And it is, relatively, small things. Not life and death decisions…not serious things.

“Would anyone want me if they knew what was inside my head? For the person that I really am I won’t lie so hard to hide I’ve never felt worthy of love….Would anyone care Would anyone cry If I finally stepped off of this ledge tonight….” (Citizen Soldier “Would Anyone Care”)

It’s an ongoing challenge in some ways. It’s beyond what, it seems, “normal people” (whoever that is because that is…distant) get.

“Would anyone care..would anyone cry…if you finally gave up and turned out the light? The world would be changed if you left it behind. You can’t be replaced, no Tonight is the night you take back your life.”

The sign will be get a spruce up and go in the new digs this week. I’m still beyond anxious. Breathe. Gonna take a lot of music to get through this week…early in the year my friend said “progress not perfection” but there’s been so much pain since for both, separately. So much out of my hands.

Flow on River of Time…wash away the pain and heal my mind. flow on river of time carry me away and leave it all far behind.

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