This form does not yet contain any fields.

    hope that no matter what difficulties arise in family, health, or finances, a family can survive it and get to the other side. 'How' is not just one response, rather it's an evolving idea. Solutions present themselves as you go along the path. As you seek the thing it is you want to achieve, so will an idea come to you. I do not attribute it to a god or a religion, though I may have one or both of those. This is life. Hope. Live with me,... 



    How would you like your content...



    l i v e   f o r   t o d a y

    Entries in family (45)


    Hope and Gratitude

    5774 is behind us. Please G-d, put the worst of our troubles there too. 

    I am grateful I did not give up on hope, I am happy I did not give up on dreaming. I am humbled our family stands here today, together, renewing in this season of reflection, repentance, and recommitment. These days offer us an opportunity as a family, together with our community, to collect our attention towards forgiveness, new direction, and love. Why not recommit to what’s most precious to us? I find it quite beautiful… 


    Who What When... Whaaaat? 

    It just so happened I needed to change the credit card on this account to keep my blog live that made me reconsider whether I should keep writing. I want to, that is not the issue, so much is going on I am spinning in circles and cannot really keep up. All it took was one person to mention that they read an article and wondered if I had added to it so they could read more, that I felt re-invigorated to keep spilling. In addition to this, my husband of all people, keeps telling his doctors, friends and therapists to check out this blog. The one person I thought would never want anyone over here is the one who outs me the most. I don't know why I am telling you this thought process, but there it is. 

    We are disappointed today to have received the newest denial of my husband's claim to the VA. It has been a long, extremely drawn out difficult road of torture and agony since my husband got out in 2004. Ten years later we are still trying to get what he needs at a basic level. Survival is a game I have learned to play in contrast to the middle class suburbanites we live amongst who are deciding what new color car to purchase for their collection. Ok, I have no evidence that this is true, life is tremendous for us all. I get it.

    My husband just returned from being in treatment for over three months out of state. Our little family did everything they could on our own to stay afloat. I learned pretty quick who our friends (ok friend) was and who clearly wanted to take advantage of my new found vulnerable situation. Now that he is back and re-adjusting we are facing this new decision of the VA fresh out of treatment. I suppose I have a lot to learn about how to file an arguable claim, I also suppose I left lots of room for improvement. Giant ugh. In contrast I also can deduce that they really are not serving us well or keeping their end of the deal to take care of a soldier after he gives his all in combat service. I shouldn't have to have a law degree to get help for him. WTF. War changed everything about his life, altering it to the opposite of what he wished, hoped and dreamed for, not to mention worked for. What all of us as a family hoped and dreamed for. It disgusts me. 

    In the meantime, since spring of 2014 I have been back in school working on my degree. Cus', obviously not enough is going on at all. I need more. On a happy awesome note, I received a full scholarship to attend that began this fall! So, now I have an awesome reason to continue, even when life gets really tough like it is right about now, not knowing how we will survive without having this claim decided in our favor. It is pretty much therapeutic to have school to work on, it's given me a place to escape to with purpose-building a one way road out of this hell of not having good economic options. 

    Also, Zoe turned 16 and Sheme turned 12! What the heck!  






    Ok, I have to go study...


    Day 103

    Even still...

    With his prolonged absence, we feel the stagnation that life took. A hold came upon us all, our development inflicted with an emptiness where he once fit.

    The days could be a little bit brighter, the celebrations happier, the milestones attended to longer. We all feel the strange heaviness of him gone and try, all we can, to be happy for this moment.

    The milestones are the hardest, the traditions and the markers of life. These have us all reeling for closure and reuniting. These all pull our hearts, these all present a thickness in the day our feet attempt to walk through, heavily picking up one foot with hesitation and letting it fall in front of other. Wading through the sad undertone in the air, here we are together. Still, we sing; still, we dance; still we celebrate what we do indeed have anyway.

    Happy Birthday Shelemyah Amariah.... you brought daddy home from the war. He will come home to you again soon...



    Wondrous Unknowns 

    The end of so many things came today.

    I watch my lovely female rabbi leave our community and drive across the country to her new home with her lovely family, as she posts her journey travelling there. One of the few I can count on one hand who embraced Sheme and loved us all as we are. Unafraid.
    I saw Sheme dance and sing with her summer camp for the last time today before school starts, realizing this warm loving place has been so special for her. Wishing her dad was here along side me to see this moment where she's a part of something. Contributing. Counted. Happy. 
    I see Zoe do a wonderful job as a counselor, doing excellent at her first job, shining, and creating joy for herself in this position. I don't want that to end as school starts. She feels so good here, and so frustrated there.
    I look on as Marco finishes his last year at summer camp, which must be bittersweet for him too. 
    As nerdy and corny as this sounds, I attend my last class for the summer and it makes me sad. I always hate leaving, I love the learning and the classroom so much, I never want to go. 
    And I saw an end to the man I once knew, the frustrated, angry, restless one. He loved me even in his anger and fear. That's the kind of love I've known for 18 years. Now what? 
    I get how we wish for good change and still don't know how to act when it happens. We aren't supposed to know, we are supposed to learn how. I get that too, I hope my loved ones understand that. 
    It's a sad day, each Shabbat, to make dinner and have only part of the family here. I know it's part of life. Someday my kids will be away, one by one, creating their own traditions apart from these here.  
    I just can't always process these feelings of change, missing, sadness, and wondrous unknowns. Today they are many and heavy. I hide from the comfort of community, feeling too vulnerable these past few months, isolating in what I perceive as protection. Knowing who to trust has become a tricky game. Sometimes, just sometimes, I want to be in his arms listening to his voice vibrate through his chest telling me it's ok. He cannot be here right now, and I even feel guilty for wanting him back. So many ends, which began and completed without him. Such a strange feeling to go through a cycle on our own. 



    It was forced but chosen, you being away. Necessary for the survival of all our souls. How fickle my emotions roll through time, hating, loving, rejecting, wanting,… ready to change everything and vulnerably desiring it all return. How can I ask for the good parts and expect the bad to not reappear? Who am I to think repair is possible, who am I to want and not be alone through life? Today I have not been able to live now, today I changed, today for the first time since his departure I truly missed who he is in our life. Today I saw hope peek around the corner and remind me dreams can happen, and that is what makes me yearn so much more. 


    Shabbat Shalom

    Happy family milestones from another altitude...


    Shabbat Shalom 


    The rhythm and breath of someone reading out loud takes us to a world far away. As a child, I could spend hours pressed against the warmth of my grandmother’s body listening to her read, the rustling of her hand turning the page, watching the birds and the weather outside, transported by the intimacy of a shared side by side
    — Love this story artist Ann Hamilton tells about her grandmother. (~Artists statementthe event of a thread)

    (Source: beingblog)


    Sifting Change

    He came in asking to dance early in the morning, excited, ready for a day. I refused. After an evening being angry, I wasn’t ready to let go. There was no specific instant impetus to my behaviour, I just grew increasingly withdrawn and upset over the week.

    He is attending a recovery group at the VA three days a week and it's changing him, it's changing him a lot. I am remembering all the positive qualities I married him for as I see them return, and I am not used to it. I am feeling left behind as he grows stronger in himself. I suppose the birthday of my youngest to double digits combined with my husband's increased emotional independence is frightening. It's a classic mother’s nightmare- what if no one needs me anymore? I realize it's healthy for everyone to stop needing increasingly as time passes, including my spouse as he gains support from others on his post war journey, but it has left a void I did not expect so early.

    So I sat in my dining room early in the morning, then moved to the kitchen and sat there. Later when the sun came out I sat on the deck soaking it in. Still, nothing compelled me to create, to move forward, to clean or to plan. I just sat, all day. The next day I could barely do more than attend Shabbat and return home to sleep all afternoon. Then again that night, just slept, shut down, turned myself off, hardly ate,…and attempted to stop feeling as much as possible. My husband was so busy all week, and continued to be, there was little notice of the emotional journey of a boy turning ten for a mother, or thought that his new lifestyle was leaving any effect at all. And that was what made me upset, he wasn’t there for me. And I am terrified I will be forgotten. My mind told me to just focus on the road I had chosen for my future and work on it, but my body froze, and my heart cried.


    If Being Afraid is A Crime We'd Hang Side by Side 

    He wasn't feeling so good. I woke up frustrated. We ran out of almond milk for "cereal" so I started cracking eggs at the last minute. He began to explain all the reasons he didn't feel well, but all I wanted was to dance and say good morning to him. It was the morning after our youngest turned ten and my realizing how short life is with children, and how quickly phases pass. He was on his way to the Substance Abuse Treatment Program at the Veteran's Administration Outpatient Clinic in South Austin for the third time this week. I was preparing for a Department of Rehabilitative Services Transition and Vocational Rehabilitation division intake completion for Shelemyah. So we danced together, and Sheme stared at us very closely so she could see well. Commentary by her and Levi commenced as they gathered around us, cus you know as a parent there are very controversially blurred boundary lines for personal space. And we continued, falling into our own bubble of time for just a moment to start the day... 

    each day we dance together, before the kids and the noise and the business takes over. Sometimes I share the song, and here is how it started


    That My Soul Knows Very Well

    Ten years just flashed before my eyes…and he’s already this old and I am already wringing every drop of life that I possibly can out of each moment, because I won’t be here forever and they will live on and I will miss them so deeply, my soul will forever know.

    If you even blink you’ll realize how much life passed by. Soaking in the moments, trying not to get carried away by the busy of them.


    the words on the paper freed us

    There was one moment, a place in time that spiraled downward. It broke hearts, it dashed expectations, it brought down low. It made you question every decision you ever made in life and wonder where your sanity was. It tortured, it ripped souls. It bred the very existence of doubt. It created isolation, loneliness, and desperation of life. There was one tiny little thing though, a minuscule glimmer shimmering in your eye. You called it hope, possibility, chance. You were too stubborn to let it go, so you followed it down the path. What once looked like a doomed arrangement began to show shoots of tiny baby spring growth just peeking out of the dirt in the ground. Sometimes, those shoots seemed like they wouldn’t make it. Some died. Others grew and replaced them. Finally, there was a foundation of them to walk upon that felt good on the bottoms of your souls. And they flourished, and they are growing in many different colors, and they are getting stronger,… and you simply cannot believe happiness returned. Not only did it, it came to those once dark, lonely, torn apart places. You never moved from your house, you never altered your existence, you never traded in your relationships for newer ones, no matter how justified the others made it seem you should. You trusted your ideas. Then you gave them the time and the chance they needed. They grew. Today you wake up with warmth around you. Still surprised, peace greets you when you open your eyes. And you are grateful. A whole lifetime you dreamed of knowing what love was and you, lucky soul, get to experience it today. With them. What once was broken has been made whole. And you are grateful.  And it all became ok.  


    New Year's Eve ideas for families to do at home I like the most...

    Making New Year's Eve ideas, then most likely ignoring them and finding a party 

    1. Make it an early night for the kids and celebrate with your sweety at midnight

    2. Count down the hours to “midnight” by letting your kids pop a balloon every hour until you decide to celebrate. You could put something in the balloon too, a surprise or a fortune. 

    3. Once it’s “officially 2014”, (8pm for example) let them bash open a ‘pinata’ times square ball of confetti.

    4. Dress up fabulously pretty at home.

    5. This: New Year's Resolution for Kids printable; and one for you to play along.

    6. I like this idea, do a yearly video interview. This could get ridiculously cute…

    7. Lastly, I am going to insert the obligatory photo we take each year as a family holding up a sign with the year written on it. Simple, easy, and fun to look back on. 

    OK, that is enough, any more ideas than that and I would actually have to work hard getting ready for the day. Happy New Year!  


    Alanon Zombies

    ….and then our therapist told me to go to Alanon. I tried that once about 5 or 6 years ago and hated it then. I tried it again just to follow recommendations and not be totally closed minded, and I still hated it. Except this time even more so. There’s this sworn allegiance to the program that, quite frankly, startles me. Apparently, the 12 steps of Alanon changed all their lives and they plan to come to meetings unendingly. Forever. It is their social system, and that’s great, but I don’t want it to be mine. They are careful to remind you, you are not there for the addict but because of the addict. Also that by being there doesn’t change the addict’s behavior, but yours. I get that already. 

    From my un-steeped perspective it is a fellowship to support you in learning self care. The rules all talk about letting go, submitting to a higher power, etc. They also say, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” 

    Well, I have had a spiritual awakening, an ongoing one, for over 20 years now. It’s evolving and I am very happy with it. I also like that it is not based on an addict in my life. And as I write that step here I realize why some of the members are so fanatical about the program, it's the 12th step to tell me and others. I also tend to disagree with their leaning towards co-dependency being such a bad thing. That went way too far with therapists, there is a science of healing to having healthy attached relationships. Emphasize the world healthy. The answer is not to swing the pendulum all the way towards independence. It just really feels a lot like a religious gathering and format, they have their own literature, they read from them in meetings, there are rules about what is allowable to be read and be said outloud, the same things are read each time a meeting opens and closes, etc etc. I see it as a replacement for regular religious practice, something I already have and am not interested in replacing. I completely get why this works for some people, but I somehow find it off in a way. Off and empty. 

    So I go, alanonless into the world, married to an addict and war survivor, struggling with his own ability to care for himself and not be addicted to self medicating in some way. And really, what can I do? I have learned a lot about letting go, personal self care, responsibility, communication, reactions, and more. I hear other people’s stories in an alanon room and realize how much I have learned that they are still trying to figure out. 

    IDK if I will be OK with my current support system and knowledge of navigating the array of illnesses in my family, but alanon doesn’t seem to be the place I want to hash that out.


    Interview Day 

    Recently we went on a family military trip, the organization sponsoring it gathered families who had served and were now veterans, all hurt in some capacity during their service, and gave them some respite time in the great outdoors. 

    It. Was. Lovely. 

    And the biggest reason it was lovely was this: we were in our veteran community. 

    We don’t have that in Austin, there’s like 3 people. When it comes to the daily, daily stuff, like school and the neighborhood, it is completely non-existent. And we feel that. It is no more obvious than it was the weekend we spent there with each other, and when we drove back home I cried, deeply. The unspoken understanding we had there was gold, the easiness of interaction, the expectations, the camaraderie,…so comforting. Quickly we were ripped out of the indulgence of it all while our daughter had a medical emergency, we scrapped basking in the glow to survive the next crisis, once again. Today I had the opportunity to revisit the trip due to a phone interview the organization arranged to gauge how the experience was for us. I quickly remembered how comfortable we were there. Now that the interview is over, I realize how important that was, especially for my husband. 

    There, he was able to see his accomplishments. They were very obvious. All the work he does do, on himself and for his family, shined. The second we got back into our town, somehow that went away. It has everything to do with his in-laws past treatment of him as we realized what was going on with PTSD and TBI, the shaming people do, the way our neighborhood responded to our situation, the lack of veterans in the area to identify with, his entire family being far away and completely oblivious to anything going, his family not knowing how to respond once they did learn of his health and ignoring him, the lack of services for him in 2004 when he got out, people's inability to understand and be helpful in business transactions, the VA refusing his claim the first time and hardly giving him what he needs now, the sparse availability of advocacy for veterans in our area, etc etc. It just is not a “military friendly” place to be. I have managed to find a supportive community, though not military related, that I adore and feel comfort in. But, he is not experiencing the same type of comfort because he wants people who understand war. He feels supported by it to a point, but regular men don't understand the combat experience he craves them to. He must feel so very lonely, I realize, as I put this in text. I can see the difference in him when he is around veterans and when he is not. He needs it. He needs it to be easy to find and immerse into. We need it, the kids need it. We did not come from nothing, we all served, we were all affected, people need to truly understand that. 


    And Then Community Lifted Us Up... 

    I am humbled at the beautiful project Gloria Lewis Otto put together for our family. We are so grateful for her support and love...

    "For Veteran's Day, I am launching a fundraiser that is near and dear to my heart for the Vasquez family here in Austin. Most of us like to thank the vets we know on this day, but you can truly make a difference in the life of a veteran and his family by extending your hand to lift them up when they most need it. Please, please take the time to read their story and share it with everyone you know. Their situation could so easily be mine or yours, your neighbor's, your friend's because trauma happens in an instant and it often lasts for a lifetime. Please give in any way that you can so that this family can continue to put healthy food on the table for their four children while they focus on rebuilding their lives."


    To be unbound from how the fixed world goes...

    Another mark to the end of the week is here, Shabbat.
    It so blatantly stares me in the face as it approaches...sometimes saying "how are you going to pull your family and desire to create Shabbat together this week, huh?!"
    Sometimes it's a soft pillow to land on, finding it to be the one day billers don't cut services, people don't knock on our door to foreclose, and expectations to solve any business matter are nill.

    Always, no matter how mad any of us have been with each other, it glues us back in solidarity. Often, it's the only thing that does. Shabbat is at least the one thing we can all agree on, thank gawd, and isn't used as collateral in some fleeting marriage dispute. Gratefully, at least that is off the table.

    But it's been such a trying 2 weeks, we went from a moment of familial bliss and support thrust back into daily life. Hospital and health crisis included. So quickly we are both back to our ends; distraught, exhausted, feeling the tension of being outcast in a neighborhood, anxious over money and VA and housing and bills...we can hardly even stand it anymore. How, then, do we enter into a Shabbat with all these concerns in the balance? When can we truly resolve something and be excited to enter into Shabbat celebrating in gratitude for having a foundation to rest in instead of running from the threats to our well being and hiding for 24 hours?
    I'd like to make that time now...I have no more patience or strength left in me to sustain this madness.

    {soundtrack: How Long }


    Family Relief

    We were invited to participate in Operation Purple's Healing Adventures last weekend in the Hill Country of Texas. After speaking with them about all the dietary restrictions our family had, and their graciously accomodating, we set off! I wasn't sure what to expect, and was a little apprehensive. But this was one of those trips where the good stuff is still setting in after it is over, and we are all realizing how well they did to bring us back together as a family and remind us what support and understanding feels like. 

    Here is the goal of Operation Purple's Healing Family Adventure, "We've tailored a special retreat program that is designed to support wounded service members and their families. We celebrate rediscovering family-fun and togetherness after an injury. We combine family-focused activities with outdoor exploration to encourage each family’s growth. Specially adapted communication activities developed by FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress™), ensure families return home stronger.  We are climbing, hiking, canoeing, bonding, eating s’mores, and more!"

    And that is exactly what they delivered. Everyone in our family did brave and awesome things, we watched as three of our kiddos teamed up to canoe together and created a pretty good system of cooperating, paddling in unison, counting it off outloud in threes. It was adorable. Marco and I also very nervously looked on as Shelemyah decided she was going to climb the high ropes course, and zip line from 45 feet, no matter what. The support staff made everything possible. She is very proud of herself, as are we. Furthermore, may I note, not only did they provide a healing weekend, they treated us with respect. I have been on sponsored caregiver retreats in the past and made to feel like an irresponsible child becasue of the amount of oversight and lack of freedom to make our own decisions. I love how we were treated as the capable adults and families that we are. Bravo National Military Family Association, you've got it right. Thank you for everything. 



    We made it this far... it is going to be a great year


    Be Encouraged

    Our G+ community wants to bring you positivity, so we created the “Be Encouraged” section. A place to find thoughts and meditations. Perhaps a place to find a new focus. We believe in Post Traumatic Growth...

    Sign in to join here