Butterfly Kisses

What an amazing adventure in the world of Butterflies. I believe I was touched by Heaven on this day. Enjoy a few photos from my experience in one of the nation’s largest tropical butterfly exhibit. The poetry of life is exhibited in the changing life cycles of the butterfly::

Take In The Beauty Of Nature

Come along with me on a nature walk of 2500 acres of the world’s largest public, self-guided woodland garden:

Birds and Mental Disease

I never thought about birds being mentally off before until I visited Callaway Gardens. The birds that Callaway have adopted are sick, but perhaps not in the way you think. These birds have been impacted by us humans by unnatural associations. One example of bird tampering ( my ideology) is when we interfere with a bird’s nest. The bird could become orphaned. Perhaps a bird naturally nests on the ground and this invites unwanted human contact. These two examples can bring much harm to a bird’s well-being. When this has happened, Callaway Gardens has had to come in and rescue these birds of prey.

Post Traumatic Army Life

My official photo taken before I was promoted to Captain.

My official photo taken before I was promoted to Captain.

Another shooting on Ft. Hood breaks my heart. It appears we are not breaking through with those soldiers with mental illness. What seems even more disturbing to me is that according to newspaper accounts, this particular soldier was not given the assistance when he actually asked for it.
I am not making excuses for this young man’s actions. As an Army Nurse Vet, I am wondering where the Army could have recognized the signs that led up to this horrific event. My initial thoughts is that a soldier who was asking repeatedly for different family related requests was put through a maze of military red tape. His psyche could not handle it any longer and he snapped. Those requests included living with his family, going to his mom’s funeral, and taking a leave of absence.
As a career nurse myself and a mother of a 21-year-old son with autism and mental illness, I believe the chances of becoming violent are exponentially higher in the soldier’s life. There obviously is more questions that need to be asked and many interventions that the military must do to stop this senseless loss of life.
My initial response is that all weapons must be checked in and left on base instead of a soldier taking his army issued firearms home. There should be a study done that would support soldiers not carrying weapons when they are not in a combat zone. Finally, all cars that enter a base should be searched fully up to and including having each car’s trunk opened up and the personnel in the car checked for weapons.
I realize there are those who will vehemently disagree with me. That is Ok. I am attempting to brainstorm the best way to stop this from happening again. There are innocent bystanders being killed. These are our active duty military folks and civilian government workers who just so happened to be in a field that has a tendency to have a higher rate of individuals with mental illness. It is my belief that a majority of the time this higher incident of mental illness is caused from active combat missions.
As a former Army Nurse Veteran of Desert Storm, I feel as if I have a unique perspective on this issue. I recall the soldiers who I cared for after scud missile injuries that were my patients in Landstuhl Army Medical Center in Germany. These munitions’ injuries were very common during this time frame. These physical injuries were only half the story. The underlying story was the invisible injuries that were missed. As an RN caring for one gentleman in particular who was in my ICU, he became very disoriented and combative toward me. He was actually trying to kill me and I just so happened to be protected by one of my 91 Charlies (acronym for LPN) who was standing next to me. Without giving too much information, the soldier was not himself. He mentally snapped. I will never forget that GI’s face and that incident. It is etched in my mind as if it was yesterday. It has caused me much mental anguish also and I hope that young man made it home safely to his family for the love he needed from them. It appears that is what this young man was seeking too who caused the killings on Ft. Hood. Again, this is a commentary on my part only. The facts do need to play out.
My swearing into the Army in 1989 in the State of Alabama.

My swearing into the Army in 1989 in the State of Alabama.

Simplicity

Friends For Life

Friends For Life

Remembrances of my past came with strong waves of emotion this week. It was as if an avalanche had hit me and I was buried alive. My son had lost his best friend and memories of this past year came crushing down. How many things does it take in my life to die before I will wake up? I was reminded of long ago of my dad’s death, then the loss of my precious childhood dog of 16 years, and more recently the end of a legal separation process that I thought would put me in the grave early . How do we deal with life’s blows?
As I thought through all these episodes, I realized it was time to look at how I could start living a more intentional life. Have you ever thought about how important relationships are in our lives? God made us to be in fellowship with each other for the good and the bad. In fact, friendships have been an important and integral part of my life. I realized how my son who lost his best friend through death has no choice but to move on without him. As I thought of my son’s choices, it renewed in me my own life’s struggles. I thought of friends past and present and wondered about how I could renew friendships. I could hear a calling in my heart–Come Now, Let Us Settle The Matter. Stop holding people at arm’s length.
Reminding myself that no two friendships are the same is important. It is also vital to realize no two people are alike and we must accept people where they are at. If a friendship is not meant to go deeper than do not. Start adjusting your expectations and choose to love people right where they are at. Learning to love people unconditionally should be a pattern worth pursuing. It sure seems worth the effort.
One thing we can remember is that friendships do not happen over night. It takes time to cultivate just as a gardener plants her field, she must nurture it daily so how friendship must be also. I have a lot to learn from a gardener. Today though I wanted to share a few important thoughts on the human mind/soul/spirit that have begun growing in my heart and I hope it resonates with you today:
1. Be You.
2. Don’t Hide.
3. Be Honest.
4. Don’t Procrastinate.
5. Be Intentional.
6. Don’t lie.
7. Be Appreciative.
8. Don’t Do Nothing.
9. Be Alive.
As you think upon these ideas and especially the last one–No One gets out of this world alive so while you have a chance live your life on this earth to the fullest. Come Now, Let’s Settle The Matter and saturate those around you now with your friendship and love.
(Reposted from last year with updated material. This was a popular post I thought worth sharing again. )

1973

Growing up in Hawaii and lasting memories from a little girl. Come along for the ride and see where we land!

Growing up in Hawaii and lasting memories from a little girl. Come along for the ride and see where we land!

1973 was the year. It was when I had my first crush. Jamie and I had a lot in common. We were both brunettes. He was small and so was I. He loved playing sports and so did I. He was 10 years old and so was I. He was shy and so was I. Ok. That last statement was not true.
Memories are a powerful thing. It is a wonder why we pick certain people over others to be “interested” in. The funny thing is how does someone know what a crush really is at the age of ten? Furthermore, when we grow up, why would a woman pick just one guy out of a lineup of several she could choose from? I mean think about it. Many times we women go for the no-good lazy bum from the wrong side of the tracks. But I digress.
Jamie was the perfect boy. He really was such a sweet person, but the truth is I do not think he really noticed me. That was Ok because really I knew I was just not quite ready to date. After all, I wasn’t even out of my first decade of life.
Seriously, it is fun thinking back on 41 years ago and realizing maybe some things never change. No one could ever compete with little Jamie. He is the “one” that got away.
Have you ever heard of the saying, “When one door closes, another one opens up.” It dawned on me that those early years of my life were like the changing seasons we have every few months. April is always a beautiful time back in my home town. Spring is on its way. Almost overnight, I can see the azaleas, gardenias, and honeysuckle blooming. It is a site for sore eyes. If I could paint you a picture, we would see vibrant colors everywhere. We would see the changes season to season and perhaps even minute to minute. The colors would be glorious with different shades of green, yellow, blue, and pink. I would not forget the birds and the trees surrounding the beautiful landscape of flowers. What vibrant colors we could share.
That is what I yearn for now. Simplicity. Keeping things simple and full of hope should be what life is all about. Leaning on our memories and learning from them is quite possibly why God gives us so many second chances. Why does he keep repeating the seasons? Do you ever wonder why there are only four seasons? Why aren’t there six or eight? Maybe deep down we yearn for familiarity and traditions along with a small element of surprise once in a while. I think that is why I think about 1973. It was a simple life. I did not care if Jamie liked me or not. I just knew he was such a great sight to look at in 1973.  He had really done it for this little girl.