handheld computer seemed impossible. But I do know that technology isn't the only thing that has changed since that time. Our world has changed, our communities have changed, our families have changed. Even we as individuals have evolved. Our values, beliefs, friendships, activities; nothing is really the same. There is beauty in that. We each have been shaped by our experiences, whatever they may be.
This weekend Cave Dude and I were invited by Wounded Warrior Project to participate in the West Coast Alumni Summit. What a wonderful opportunity to learn about the programs WWP has to offer, why they offer them, and who potentially qualifies for the various programs. We were encouraged to participate, spread the word, and be an active part in this community of military service members. Who makes up the community? Former and current service members who have experienced an illness or injury as a result of military service post 9/11, and their caregivers.
It was wonderful to find peers within this community of people who have acknowledged that they don't want to be defined in a negative way by their experiences as a warrior or caregiver. The WWP brought with them fun, information exchange and networking, and healing opportunities. The warriors and caregivers brought with them a willingness to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
My favorite part of the weekend was meeting as a group of careg with Lisa of HarvestingHappiness.org for a wonderful presentation about finding happiness within the circumstances that we find ourselves, realizing our intention for happiness, and understanding that happiness is not one-size-fits-all! I could have done a full two-day seminar with Lisa...she exuded kindness and respect for humanity. I loved her statement/advice:"if its kind and its legal, go for it". Lisa is also the founder of HH4Heroes.org which is the Harvesting Happiness curriculum, with emphasis on helping those suffering the emotional wounds of war find their happy identity once again.
During the session Lisa mentioned allowing our problems to wash over us like waves. I loved that visualization. Not only am I a born and bred lover of the ocean, but we were just steps from the ocean during our stay, and the metaphor struck a chord in me. Here's why; Not long ago I shared with CaveDude the advice I had received as a kid learning to surf: if you get caught in the impact zone, if you're being tossed around like a rag in a washing machine, cover your head, relax, and let the water bring you to the surface. As I have found myself contemplating the idea of considering problems as waves I realize that waves are the perfect analogy. They are real, they are abundant, they can be powerful. The wave's act of washing over a beach changes the beach. Sometimes the changes are subtle, barely noticeable to the naked eye, other times the entire landscape is changed permanently by the destructive forces of a storm or tsunami wave. But the inherent truth about waves, is that no matter how powerful, no matter how destructive, no matter the size, shape, or path of the wave, the wave never has the power to convince a rock to quit being a rock, or sand to stop being sand, but it does have the power to create something more beautiful out of the rock and sand as the elements clash together in the tumbling action of the sea. There's something in that thought for my soul, and my soul is strengthened by the thought. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to listen to Lisa's perspective on harvesting my happiness, and I see that my seeds are beginning to sprout as I take comfort in knowing that happiness can be my very own version of joy.
Walking down the road of discovery with Wounded Warrior Project and the other Alumni opened my eyes to more possibility than I had imagined existed. This is an organization who has truly made every effort to look at the needs of a service member turned civilian in the context of our post 9-11 world from a 360 degree view. As a designated caregiver, a title I have struggled with, I could recognize that not only do they want to treat the warrior as a whole person (mind, body, spirit) but that they also make every effort to heal the family of the warrior as well. At the Wounded Warrior Project, West Coast Alumni Summit, I could see that they take their mission very seriously, which is to say, they also know how to have fun, big time.
For our Minds we were treated to a talk and meet and greet with medal of honor recipient Tibor "Teddy" Rubin who told humorous stories about his survival as a teenager in Nazi concentration camps in his native Hungary and again as a private in the US ARMY in Korea. That's right HUMOROUS stories, about being a prisoner of war. For our bodies, we enjoyed hour long massages and a eucalyptus steam bath (remind me next time to wear my swim suit so I can really enjoy that steam!) I dare say, for our bodies we also enjoyed the best bed I have ever slept in, everybody was raving about the awesome beds at L'auberge Del Mar. For our spirits we were treated to team building exercises (you know the one's you never want to do, but are always glad you did later in the day when you realize you have a new friend, and you might not have met that person without the stupid games you had to play together?) and of course our spirits were also fed with fun and good food. The ocean at our back door didn't hurt either ;)
For more information about the Wounded Warrior Project, their programs, who qualifies to receive services, or to donate, visit http://woundedwarriorproject.org. For more info on Harvesting Happiness or HH4Heroes visit http://hh4heroes.org or http://harvestinghappiness.org.