Thanksgiving Gratitude in 3 Steps

Today is Thanksgiving in the USA, a day for giving thanks! 

Here's a quick and easy gratitude practice I learned about recently that I really enjoy, in 3 quick steps:

1.  Express gratitude for something/anything.

2. Express gratitude for something obscurely related number 1. 

3. Express gratitude for something you might normally overlook, again related to number 1.

 

Here's a personal example! 

My wife and I are going to the mountains for this holiday, so...

1. I'm grateful I get to spend this holiday in the mountains!

2. I'm grateful for the people who paved the road we're driving on, and that they chose  to do it alongside a river with so many gorgeous views!

3. I'm grateful for asphal! This would be a difficult drive on a dirt road.

 

That's it! Quick and easy.  

If you like this exercise, share about it below and pass it on :)

 

Memorial of a fighter for TBI Social Justice

Dear Friends,  

I haven’t posted here in an unforgivably long time. 

There have always been reasons and excuses. Maybe my words haven’t felt “good enough,” or maybe I was feeling ashamed of not having posted before, and the shame of not having posted manifests as more shame, as I didn’t post another draft. Shame creates more shame; isolation creates more isolation.

I have to start back up somewhere, at some time, or nothing would ever happen. 

So; as now — this moment — is always the only place there’s any causal control, I’m going to start by posting about a Memorial Service that is being held for Tommy Manning. 

I honestly don’t know much about him personally, and I never met him. What I do know was that Tommy Manning had a TBI (traumatic brain injury), and impacted legislators enough to get them to pass “The Tommy Manning Act”: https://www.biawa.org/legislation.php.

According to the link above, “The intent of the statute is to bring together expertise from the public and private sectors to address the needs and gaps in services for this population.” 

This Act dedicated $2 from every moving traffic violation to support TBI survivors.

This is particularly huge because one of the most significant challenges for survivors of TBI is finding the resources (financial, emotional, interpersonal, etc) to get the care they need.

Without The Tommy Manning Act, there would be no Brain Injury Alliance of Washington, and this was among the first organizations that helped me to find support for recovery from my injury. 

In the light of support for all survivors of TBI, I thought it would be important to share the details of his memorial service.

1962 - 2018

Recognizing that there was a dire lack of resources and support for individuals with Brain Injury, Tommy contacted his local state representative, Dennis Flannigan. Tommy and Representative Flannigan developed a collaborative relationship, which resulted in the signing of the Tommy Manning Act (RCW 74.31.060) in May of 2007. This Act is named after Tommy for his determined advocacy for its passage and improvement in services for people with Brain Injury.

The Tommy Manning Act addresses issues related to TBI and ensures funding through a two-dollar fee imposed for traffic violations. These funds support TBI services throughout the state of Washington, including the Washington TBI Resource Center, Support Groups, The Annual TBI Conference, Military Support, and other programs that work to mitigate the disabling effects that Brain Injury has on people. Tommy Manning is one man whose dedication has ensured that thousands of other individuals are able to attain the highest quality of life living with Brain Injury.

Information on Memorial Services:

When: Friday, November 9th from 2:00-4:00pm.

Location:
Star Center
3873 S 66th St
Tacoma, WA 98409

The invitation to acknowledge Tommy's legacy and pay your respects is open to all.

Latest Podcast

Dear Humans,

I wanted to post about the most recent podcast episode, episode #4 with Hal Blatman MD.

Dr. Blatman shares truly novel ideas about healing injuries that have traditionally be viewed as permanent and he shares ideas about how to work with the body's natural systems to promote optimal healing. Having grown up with nearly unlimited access to his wisdom (he's my dad after all), it seems so normal to me.

I am so grateful to help share your transformative wisdom, Pops! Thank you!!

How to How

There's so much information out there. 

There are so many people who can help.

I don't know about you, but people keep telling me to stop being Afraid. Or, to Allow the Fear and do it anyway. 

Fear is crippling.

Fear is paralyzing.

So, what to do?

Learn to laugh at fear?

Yes, that's something I've come to through healing, and I'm not sure it's so easy.

There are layers in the way. Layers to sift through.

In my own more recent recovery efforts, to finally get on my with life, I heard one of the more recent Bliss and Grit (37-40... Self-Compassion to Identity Crisis) episodes and found a sentiment that got touched on and not necessarily addressed: TRUST. 

For me, it has been important for my Self and the Self to reestablish their TRUST in each other. The Self is the pureness, the wholeness of absolute Trust. In my experience with TBI/coma/PTSD, and the healing and spiritual journey of life, I find value in healing and rebuilding TRUST between my Self and the Self as it exists in the brain and nervous system.

For me, this is key to getting through an Identity Crisis.

This requires rest. When you realize you've stumbled into something epic and you want to run away with your ideas, take them with a grain of salt, and take a NAP.

Napping is a forgotten art. 

And in my not-legally-binding experience as a survivor of brain injury, I cannot more strongly recommend brainwave Biofeedback.

Meditation. Yoga. Quiet. Napping. Brain Injury is like having a flickering light bulb. These things have helped me and my brain stay in harmony with each other. My Scared Brain is mine, but it's not who I am.

Maybe in another post I'll talk about Fascia. I'm not a Doctor, but I grew up learning about fascia at the dinner table from Dr. Dad's daily adventures building his practice and skill sets. 

If anything in this post has resonated for you, please feel free to share and post below!

Thanks and have a beautiful day!

Truly,

Joshua 

 

Homecoming

I spent last week in a Spiritual Homeland
leading a young adult trip that traveled all over Israel.

I found myself engaging in conversations with 22-26 year old Americans
about Culture;
about Homelands;
about Spirituality;
about Religion;
about Heritage
about Trauma;

about what it means to be Human.

What does it mean to be Human? 

In my 16 years of recovery from TBI and Comatose, I've learned that everyone is different, yet still fundamentally Human. Everyone comes to their own answers at their own speed and in their own time.

This site exists to support you on your journey from survivors 2 thrivers,

so you can most effectively own your space, to
be in charge of your own recovery, so
it doesn't take you as long as it took me. 

so you can take advantage of technology's advances.
so you can become more you. 
so you can let go of what's holding you back.

so you can!

This is

This is new, after all

It's built on being

Good to ourselves.

 

Isn’t it ironic that

I keep needing to do more. And 

I keep getting distracted 

by The World, with all

its things that want

my focus.

 

“I don’t have much of that!”

comes the fragile scoff, but 

then again,

pain like that becomes

the lens of your life — the one

your skull holds, in front

of your mind’s eye

 

it’s bound to pop-up

like whack-a-mole, every

once now and then 

isn’t it?

 

There seem to be 

spaces in my 

consciousness through which

time goes away

 

and something deeper than self

decides it needs a break

and the fear of senility opens

the gap

 

This certain kind of 

internal awareness needs 

a certain kind of 

external stability

 

in order to create

the safe spaces 

that allow life to

cultivate its fire

 

I am

a triple air sign

born on groundhog day

highly sensitive person

blown around and

caught in the sails of 

a Scared Brain

 

The structural being 

physically assaulted

by the case that swore 

to protect it when

it came into this world

 

I’m asked what this is

and it will be shown, blossoming

out of the things we

don't know how to talk about

artfully and 

collaboratively

 

As much as this is about me

this is about you too. 

 

This is about raising the bar.

3 - I believe

I believe... people are inherently good and want to do right by other people too. 

I believe... sometimes people face such overwhelming situations that they give into powerlessness completely. This can come from a huge variety of situations and experiences.

I believe... there's never a right time to get started other than Right Now. Right Now is an organization with similar values to survivors2thrivers. Right Now is the only time anything can happen anyway.

I believe... nothing starts the way you want it to finish. If you've heard my podcasts, you might imagine I have way bigger dreams for survivors2thrivers.org than exists now.

I believe... the first step in moving forward with anything is recognizing, accepting, and grieving change.

I believe... change can be scary. Just look at the polarization in American politics today. survivors2thrivers.org is not a political site. The principles and values of survivors2thrivers are human. This link is only an example.

I believe... we share a fundamentally human connection.

I believe... we're all in this together.

I believe... we don't know how to talk about pain. I'm not talking about regular pain, as in, "this" hurts. I'm talking about deep, soul-shaking, traumatic pain.

I believe... this can help war vets, victims of domestic violence, and victims of all sorts of traumatic, soul-shaking experiences.

I believe... there is so much to say about this topic that I couldn't possibly say it all in one post, yet I have to start somewhere if I want this to go anywhere.

Experience 2

The more I search for answers, the more I find that the answers are already here.

Posting regularly has been a challenge. I feel like I have to do something revolutionary. I feel like I have to do something so huge that it changes the way humanity deals with Trauma and that I have to see where I'm going before I take the first step, but this only causes inaction.  

While experiences trigger fear-based realities, creating what I call a "Scared Brain", I'm finding that what's most important for me to move forward and out of that reality is not through the memory of the trauma itself, but in figuring out how to transform my Automatic Fear Response

The Automatic Fear Response, AFR, is a physiological response that operates outside of our conscious control. This is why it's so hard to change. 

Fortunately, there are wonderful energy techniques to help.  Some of the techniques that I have had a positive outcome with are: 
 - EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Rehabilitation)
 - Somatic Experiencing
 - Cranial Sacral Massage
 - Neurofeedback

These are informational links to therapies that have been huge helps for me. They have also been helpful for huge numbers of other people. These may or may not be helpful for you, but they are certainly worth a try.

My greatest hope is to help you find the answers that are already within you.

Please consider sharing this site with people you care about. Let's transform the way we deal with Automatic Fear Responses, and ultimately brighten the Light that is dimmed by Trauma.

What is survivors2thrivers about?

I'd like to thank a friend for encouraging me to reflect: "Is this writing mainly a healthy process for me, or am I trying to teach the reader something about my experience?"

The short answer is "Yes!" to both — I'll explain.

Trauma happens to people all over the world from a huge variety of causes. It does not discriminate based on any of life's "details": things like finances, upbringing, nationality, culture, location, etc. There are correlations, but correlation does not imply causation. 

Physical trauma can sometimes be observed, as in a broken bone, but frequently, the emotional response to a trauma is extremely difficult to observe, especially over time. Emotional trauma can occur from a one-time event or from repetitive experiences, and this makes it very difficult to recognize trauma or identify its causes, never mind resolving it.

The reality is that trauma, especially long term Trauma, is a very personal, individual experience. Experiences that might be traumatic for one person may not be traumatic for another person. Additionally, a traumatic experience does not necessarily imply that a person will develop post traumatic stress, and even though someone might function with post traumatic stress, they may or may not develop the associated disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

It is important to establish that I am not a professional therapist. No information on this site offers any guarantees, and it's always a good idea to get individualized attention from a professional. While modern medicine is industrializing efforts to help people with PTSD, the effort that I see a need for is the one that speaks to the common experience of long term trauma and PTSD. On top of that, I believe that most, if not all, emotional traumas have many of the same building blocks, and so, sharing the emotional journey of other survivors of major Traumas and PTSD might help others with similar experiences feel more connected to others and to themselves.

This brings me to my experience-driven definition of PTSD, which is simply, "meta overwhelm." This overwhelm is both nonverbal and existential, shattering a person's sense of self-efficacy. This points to perhaps the most difficult part about dealing with PTSD: confronting the avoidant, dissociative overwhelm that is the key ingredient of the disorder in the first place. Personally, I'm sick and tired of running from nothing. I'm sick and tired of living in fear. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired

Regardless of its causes, PTSD is a miserable way to live, and only in the last several years have modern sciences figured out how to work with it. While this site will probably use details about my story, this site exists to create a conversation that helps all of us through the transition from "survivor 2 thriver".

I want this site to provide a place where we can all discover our breakthroughs, move out of Trauma, and move into Personal Agency

These blog posts have a space for comments and I encourage readers to share their related experiences so we can come together and create a healthier and happier humanity. 

Experiencing Relief From Trauma.

This is about healing. I really sense that the hard work I've been doing regarding trauma in my life is really starting to change my experience. It's as if the disorder component of post traumatic stress isn't getting triggered all the time. Order arises out of disorder. I can be present with my sensations at any given moment, and as I'm experiencing that, I'm learning what it feels like when emotions pass through my body. Highly charged emotions come up, and then, they leave. It's the weirdest thing.  I'm experiencing a feeling, one without my muscles hardening and my mind getting hijacked by the scared brain that had previously been binge eating on any kind of Peace I was able to create.

It's just a feeling. It's incredible; and then it passes. It's like my brain suddenly has the awareness that its limbs and extremities are allowed to "be." 

This is where I am now. 

PoEx 1

A lot of resistance is coming up. 
Motion is chaos when
Stability is challenging.

Starting and stopping
Enthusiasm revolves
With the Horizon.

Pick something today
Then tomorrow arrives fresh
With its own agenda. 

What am I to do
To move forward with my life? 
Join a Spirit Quest? 

Start a new degree? 
Choose a thrilling career? And
There's the Horizon

Turning a new day
Right before my eyes, and so
we'll see tomorrow

What the day will bring.
It's so exhausting, living, 
being distraction. 

But, on it goes, I
Suppose they say is the way
For making anew.

Because it's all in
What you produce for others
I'm doing this now.

No matter the name
Or what the doctors call it;
I must rearrange

Everything behind
A singular goal or drive; 
And so I start off

To make something that
Speaks to people, in a way
that communicates 

Truth. Helping people
Lift themselves into thoughtful
Life experience.

Discerning your Truth.
Accepting reality
Fully as it is.

Moving with grace, and
Living thoughtful presence, and
Being who you are. 

Experience 1

After 15 months of somatic experiencing, connecting my symptomatology with the diagnosis of PTSD, and about 10 sessions of EMDR, I'm becoming more engaged with my felt sense.

I'm reflecting about the settling sensation of being present in my felt sense. Exhaling discovers a deepness that feels like my attention has been in a vice grip and the crank is finally loosening. 

I believe that's hypervigilance. At least, that's how it shows up for me. 

In recognizing it, I now get to choose my response. Lots of emotions come up about it, including anger and fear, but the one that helps me build a future I want to live into is to thank my nervous system for wanting to keep me safe. Forget about wanting, it has been successful. Great job, nervous system, for a job well done!  

Cheers and Gratitude to all our nervous systems for wanting the best for us.

 

What is Trauma? What is survivors2thrivers all about?

Trauma is simply a deeply distressing experience. Most people have experienced trauma in some regard. Post Traumatic Stress can happen from the same events, but the felt experience, and the remembered experience, is much different. 

Post Traumatic Stress is the result of an experience that shakes our sense of security so much that our sense of personal safety is affected long after the stressful threat has resolved.

In my experience, traumatic stress is like a deep internal crack in the walls of the metaphorical Well of Free Will. When the initial traumatizing event happens and the waters drain from the Well, it doesn’t seem to refill. I felt an unreliable and diminishing sense of control, and a diminished ability to influence my direction in life. 

Combine that with the mental fogginess of a TBI (traumatic brain injury), and even basic everyday behaviors, like socializing, or more importantly, thinking, were debilitating. 

Surviving is about refusing to give up despite this debilitation. 

I don’t want that to be my destiny. I’m confronting the symptoms of my experience and documenting it here on survivors2thrivers.org

My goal is to develop my personal Agency, what I’m calling the Agency of Free Will. 

This is what Thriving is all about.  

My hope is that this site becomes a resource for others to make the transition from survivors2thrivers, and help people all over the world develop their own personal Agency of Free Will. 

Humanly...

Last night I was lying in bed on my left side; softening my focus, slowing my breathing, letting my body calm down; and my left hand wrapped under my right arm. It came to rest on the slightly sharper curve of my ribs as they wrap around the back and go up to the back bone. 

I’ve laid like this before, but last night, for some reason, they weren’t just ribs, they were my ribs: the very human bones that protect this body’s incredibly delicate breathing apparatus. The bones are just like any of the other bones in my body. This thing that holds my face up which hides my scared brain behind it. 

My body has ribs. It’s ok to have ribs. I’ve known they were there, and, now I feel them.