Posts Tagged ‘servicemen’

The Post – Lee Woodruff – In An Instant and Helping Our Injured Soldiers

March 7, 2008

Taking a rest tomorrow, so posting Saturday’s Gift and Post tonight.

Tonight I had the honor of hearing Lee Woodruff speak at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, about her book In An Instant. It’s co-written by Lee and her husband Bob Woodruff, the ABC News anchor who sustained a traumatic brain injury from an IED while on assignment in Iraq . It’s the story of their family’s journey through pain to healing and then recovery.

I could say many things about her – she’s a great speaker, frank, honest, down-to-earth, warm. Passionate comes to mind – she speaks so passionately about our servicemen, what they go through and the struggles they have after sustaining such injuries. She very frankly noted that her family was lucky as they had the care of ABC, Disney, and many family and friends to sustain them. Our servicemen do not. She also frankly noted that it is the willingness of those young men and women to step up to the plate and volunteer that makes it possible for the rest of us, her 16-year-old son included, to have a choice as to what we will do with our lives.

She noted that their family has worked to turn the experience into good, lemons into lemonade, including setting up a charitable fund for servicemen with traumatic brain injuries, which I’ll explain in a moment. They have grown as a family. They have tried to help others. When asked though, given all the good that’s come out of what happened to her husband, and all the good things they’ve done and people they’ve helped, did she view what happened to him as a good thing? Her immediate answer was an unequivocal “NO.” She said if she could rewind the clock, she’d wish this never happened. However, it did. She has come to understand that life is suffering and you simply choose whether it can ennoble you or make you bitter. She noted very simply that she did not want to become a bitter old woman.

She has tremendous compassion for others and said she imagined everyone sitting there has experienced some kind of life-altering event. She feels for all. Often times people come up to her and say “this happened to me, but it wasn’t anything like what you went through.” She immediately put a halt to that thought. Her feeling is that life hands everyone suffering and pain is pain.

She spoke strongly about the struggles of our servicemen and their families when there is a traumatic brain injury. Too often these families are struggling and forgotten. She and Bob make it a point to visit VA hospitals when they travel. It is obvious this is a driving passion for both of them. She feels they were given a chance to have good care so now it’s their turn to bring attention to the servicemen. She shared a quote:

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country.”

That came from George Washington. She felt we are not doing enough for our injured veterans now.

In gratitude for their good fortunes they’ve started the Bob Woodruff Family Fund to assist service members injured while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Special emphasis is for traumatic brain injury victims. They work to raise public awareness of the problem, excellence in research, prevention, diagnosis, treatment. support and resources for the injured as they try to reintegrate to daily life. They work with individuals and small organizations to do everything from provide money for cab fares to wives of injured servicemen going to and from hospitals, to funds for bills, treament and rehabilitation for a blinded veteran who lost his pension and whose wife had to quit work to nurse him back to health. The stories were too numerous.

Her deep commitment to these men and women showed in her words, her face, her eyes. It is said eyes are the windows to the soul. That is the truth. Her eyes showed her soul. It is a soul of love.

If anyone wants more information on how to donate to the fund and help our servicemen who have given so much, the website is:

www.BobWoodruffFamilyFund.org

And she noted they have only one paid employee – the wife of a Marine who is on his 3rd tour of duty in Iraq, and she works out of her bedroom so they don’t have to use any money to pay for an office.

The Post – There really IS a deeper process at work here

January 29, 2008

Some lighter fare on tap in the next few days…photos of Admiral Byrd waving his claw, Scarlett O’Hara and her molted ghost self, and . . . even the ever reclusive Melanie Hamilton! Finally caught her sitting on her “front porch” – ie the open hole in the Live Rock – at 6:30 this morning. Stay tuned.

For today: So does staring into a tank of fiddler crabs, never mind shooting photographs of them at 6:30 in the morning, REALLY have anything to do with writing?

The answer? It all depends. You mean you wanted a definite answer? Here’s a clue – Mindfulness and heart. Still confused?

Simply said, it’s what you bring to the situation. You can sit there and stare at them and your mind could be on the bills, what you’re going to buy at the grocery store, what you could be doing instead of sitting in front of a tank of crabs. You could sit there and nod, “Yup, they’re crabs. Eyestalks. Sideways walk. They all look alike. So what?”

Or you can sit there and notice that Melanie Hamilton has much tinier front claws than Scarlett O’Hara. That she is timid and almost never comes out of her crevice in the live rock…except early in the morning when the sunlight streams into the kitchen and hits that side of the tank. She loves to sit in the sunlight on her front porch. Or that Scarlett O’Hara, who normally never stops eating and never hides out, suddenly after molting has stopped eating and has refused to move from under the water filter. Or that Admiral Byrd, normally fearless, crawled into his tunnel cave after discovering Peter Lorre’s lifeless body and started twitching and wouldn’t eat.

The difference is how you watch. Are you fully present? And did you bring your heart? The heart makes all the difference.

I am taking an online spirituality course with some friends, studying the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh (pronouced Tick Naught Han). He is an 80-year-old Vietnamese monk who endured the horrors of the Vietnam War, came to America to try and stop it, and was deemed a threat by both the Communist and non-Communist regimes in Vietnam. While searching for peace, he found himself everybody’s enemy. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for his efforts to stop the war, and in his later years one of his many healing works has been to heal the souls of former American servicemen haunted by that war. Having lost close personal friends to that war, he has every reason to hate Americans. Instead he’s spent half his life healing people around the world, including Americans.

He tells a story in one of his books about a young man who wanted to learn to draw lotus flowers. So he went to a master to apprentice with him. The master took him to the lotus pond and left him sitting there for 10 days. Can you imagine in today’s busy world, signing up for lessons to learn something quickly, only to be left sitting at a pond for 10 days?

The real essence was what the young man did with that time. He could have gotten impatient (something I know a lot about), and grumbled, sighed, walked away, went shopping, took a nap, try to do something USEFUL with that time instead of just sitting there. Instead for the whole time, he watched the flowers bloom when the sun was high. He watched them close into buds at night. He watched one flower wilt and drop its petals into the water, then studied the stalk, the stamen and the rest of the flower.

On the 11th day the master returned and brought him a brush to paint with. Although his picture showed his naivete of technique, a childish style, the lotus he painted was beautiful. Deep beauty shone from the painting. He had become the lotus and as such, even with poor technique, he could paint something that moved another’s heart.

Mindfulness and heart. He paid attention to the lotus. He worked from his heart. Writing, really good writing that moves people’s souls, comes from the heart, not the brain. You can write a technically beautiful book but without heart it’s a sterile desert emotionally.

I started out watching fiddler crabs not sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect them to have personalities and subtle differences in appearance and actions. And I most certainly didn’t expect to feel such upset as I watched Peter Lorre tumble off his rock, dead.

With any luck, at least a little part of me has become the crab. With just a little more luck, maybe that crab heart will come through in my book. I’d trade a whole bunch of technical expertise for just a handful of heart.

By the way, if of interest to read a good summary of Thich Nhat Hanh’s life, check out this link at Parallax Press.

http://www.parallax.org/about_tnh.html