Reconnecting

Dear reader,

Many moons ago (many, many moons!) if you signed up for my newsletter, I promised that it would be infrequent. However, I did not really mean for it to be so infrequent that we all forgot each other!

Meanwhile, there’s been a pandemic and all our lives have changed. Each of you has my prayers for the best outcome possible in the intervening years. As many of you surely experienced, I lost dear friends to Covid, and others to cancer. It’s been rough for everyone, and my writing languished.

But I’m gearing up for bit of a comeback.

Which brings me to the reason for this post. Due to new regulations, I need to ask you to re-subscribe to my newsletter. If you would like to remain subscribed (or if you would like to sign up for the first time!), please enter your information in the form on the Newsletter Signup tab on this site. As always, you can unsubscribe at any time. If you are a current subscriber and did not resubscribe in response to the email I sent a week or so ago, you have already been automatically unsubscribed. Here’s a second chance if you want to change your mind! 😉

While I have been silent on the newsletter front, I have not been idle on other fronts.

A note about my newsletter: I am in the process of rolling out a brief, weekly newsletter. It will include stories behind the stories, where I find my ideas, excerpts of new writing, and how faith informs my art. Of course, you will be the first to know when something new is nearing release! And when I have publishing decisions or would like your insight, I will ask your opinion in surveys. I also hope to give my faithful newsletter readers occasional extras, like short stories, poems, or essays.

As I look through my subscriber list, I remember so many of you personally, and the events we shared, whether at a book signing or a retreat or at the Y (gym). There’s nothing quite as heartwarming and humbling as seeing a tangible list of people who mean so much to me. Thank you. 💖

So – if you’d like to continue as a subscriber to my newsletter, or sign up, please click here.

I am grateful for your presence in my life, no matter your decision.

Blessings and peace.

Leslie

PS – I’m rebuilding my website, so a few blog entries are missing photos. I’ll get them updated over the next few days. Meanwhile, feel free to read through them if you’re new to my site and get a sense of who I am. Thank you for your patience!!!

Posted in Appalchian Foothills series, Audible, audiobooks, Books, Fiction, Leslie Lynch, Leslie Lynch, Author, Newsletter, Novels, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Martyrdom of a PT Cruiser

Gratitude, Act I

Three hundred and sixty three days ago, my husband came home to find our home ransacked, the television (and sundry other items that would take a day to catalog) gone, and my car stolen. The thieves also took the garage door opener and every key from the rack by the door, which left me with the hollow, unsettled certainty that they would return.

They didn’t, but I wouldn’t know that until the next day’s events unfolded.

Yet even in the chaos of a home with every drawer yanked out and dumped, their contents an ankle-deep morass, gratitude began peeking through the shards and trauma almost immediately.

That morning, I left an hour later than usual in our daughter’s car, which we were watching during her deployment; my husband came home an hour—or more—earlier than usual. What if he had happened upon them? I shudder to think of the confrontation, and am doubly grateful it did not occur. Likewise, I could have been home, downstairs or in the shower, and not heard a knock at either door. I may not have heard the window break, either. Triply grateful.

I relate these events not out of a sense of uniqueness or self-pity. Others have experienced much worse, and for us, it was an annoyance rather than a catastrophe.

But I relate the story because of the response that arose within me, the response I didn’t expect, the response for which I am grateful on its own merits—not mine.

By that night, I had resigned myself to praying for the perpetrators, faceless and unknown. As a Christian, I am called to pray for my enemies and for those who persecute me. If I couldn’t apply that precept in this relatively benign circumstance, I knew in my heart I’d have failed my vocation, and so I prayed.

I prayed in gratitude that we were safe, and in petition that the perpetrators would be caught and held accountable. And that they would experience whatever changes of heart they needed in order to leave addiction and theft in their past, like ashes from which they could rise, healed and whole.

⇔⇔⇔

Gratitude, Act II

They were apprehended the next day, fleeing in my car, a red PT Cruiser which they had filled with stolen goods, Bic lighters, and supersized colas from a convenience store. Unfortunately, they ran a red light and got t-boned, losing control of the car. Fortunately, the man who broadsided them was a millisecond slow getting through the intersection, which means he hit them instead of them hitting him. Both cars were totaled.

My car came to rest in the only area without people or cars at the busy intersection. In a stunning lack of consideration for risk/benefit ratios, my car’s driver pulled his Smith & Wesson .38 revolver on the cops. (Note: cops—plural, not singular.) Rather than shoot him outright, they swarmed and restrained him, and arrested him and his passenger.

My gratitude grew as, again, no one was badly hurt or killed, that all the stuff that remained missing was just stuff, and that the loss of my car did not translate to severe hardship, as it could well have, had our circumstances been different.

⇔⇔⇔

Gratitude, Act III

Over time, we’ve replaced the few items that needed replacing, and, oddly, purged much more. When you fold or sort or otherwise evaluate the contents of drawers, dressers, and closets, you discover how much junk you’re hanging on to without even knowing it.

One of the offenders has been released on probation with a two year suspended sentence. I looked him up on Facebook, and he looks healthy now, not gaunt and desperate like he did in his mug shot. The second is being sentenced today. He’s the one who pulled the gun, and he’s going to prison for a while—but he’s been recommended for a program called Purposeful Incarceration, specifically created for persons whose crime is related to addiction issues. His family will be eligible for help, too.

The event provided fodder for creative nonfiction essays, one of which found its way into my Creative Thesis for Spalding University’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing. More importantly, it provided a gentle stimulus for my spiritual growth.

I am grateful that two men have the opportunity to heal and break the chains of their addictions; that their families have the chance to get services they need to improve their lot; and that a difficult lesson—pray for those who persecute you—has borne rich fruit.

In the end, I guess my PT Cruiser was martyred for a good cause.

And for that, I’m grateful. 

Posted in #UpbeatAuthors, Creative Process, Forgiveness, gratitude, Leslie Lynch, Restorative Justice, Spalding MFA, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Unholy Bonds: A response to one reader’s passing comment…

A friend made a comment in passing the other day when telling me she had finished Hijacked. “I love Lannis, and I want to read Unholy Bonds, but I don’t want to see her get hurt anymore.”

May I reassure you?

Lannis and Ben earned their happy ending in Hijacked. When I finished writing that book, I wondered what to write next. It was my first novel, and like many authors, I wasn’t at all sure I had another novel in me. About three weeks into the “what do I write next” phase (I was beginning to sweat, because I had no ideas!), the answer blazed its way into my mind.

Lannis had more work to do. So did Ben. Like all couples, they needed to adjust to married life, but had the added complication of her past with which to contend. And they both had unresolved issues, areas where personal growth was critical to their future success, both as individuals and as a couple. I wanted them to have the opportunity to do this important work.

And then there was Robert Davis.

How was I going to address the perpetrator of an all-to-common crime that damages countless women? His choice and resultant action ended up binding the three in invisible chains. Hence the title, Unholy Bonds. That became my focus as I wrote.

Because I have been long fascinated with stories of reconciliation and the movement called Restorative Justice, I wondered if this could be a direction for the book. Again, I had no idea if I could pull it off. Just the structure of such a novel was pushing the envelope of my skills.

The story quickly became more important than my limitations, so I persevered.

Back to my reassurance: Lannis struggles in this book. I won’t lie. No one grows without it. Sometimes it’s hard, and she suffers. But she doesn’t get hurt, and the result is worth it.

You have my  word.

If you’ve hesitated to read Unholy Bonds because you’re worried about Lannis, take heart. Give it a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Posted in Amazon, Appalchian Foothills series, Creative Process, Creativity, Forgiveness, gratitude, Hijacked, Leslie Lynch, Restorative Justice, Unholy Bonds, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Justice, peace and mercy in the wake of Orlando shooting, Brock Turner

This has been an awful week. When I first thought about writing this post, nudged gently by Erin McCole Cupp, it was to be a response to the shamefully inadequate sentence handed down to Brock Turner, convicted of three felonies after raping an unconscious woman. It was not to be a rant, however; there have been plenty of those on social media. Nor was it to be another “flaming-shaming.” Facebook and the Twitter-verse have that angle covered, too.

Then the terrible shooting at the Pulse, a popular gay bar in Orlando, happened. Social media has exploded again—and already blaming and anger have erupted all over the internet, along with hate messages, some of which seem to assume that there is an “us” and a “them,” and that “us” and “them” are enemies. Mortal enemies.

Sadly, that brings me to the point of this blog. If you’ve read my books, you know the main theme that runs through them is forgiveness. Or in purely secular terms, Restorative Justice. Bear with me here, please.

I have to interject at this point that all of what I say from here on out is deeply personal. It comes from forty years of experience in grappling with the concept of forgiveness in the face of a grievous wrong done to me. I went through all the stages: denial (nothing happened, or if it did, it won’t affect my life); anger (I want him to suffer the way I am!); mourning what I lost; depression; and finally, the dawning realization that all the rage churning around inside was hurting no one except me. Certainly not the person who wronged me.

From my Judeo-Christian, Catholic perspective, forgiveness is required of me. From the Lord’s Prayer: Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. From Matthew 5: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Doesn’t mean it’s easy; it’s not. But it’s vital if I hope to curb the rot of hatred growing in my soul, my heart, my spirit, because once I allow hatred and anger to take root, it will grow.

Back to my journey. I began by praying a rote, wooden, insincere prayer: Please, God, give him what he needs. It took a lot of time—years—but my heart began to soften. Eventually, I began to pray with sincerity. With sincerity, you ask? Yes. Because the God I follow is love. Pours out love to all, to the most unlovable, most undeserving, most marginalized. Because my God expects me to do my best in following that lead. To love. To reconcile.

Restorative Justice takes a similar tack, though not from a religious perspective. You know how you read about a tragedy, or watch an interview of a victim’s family member, and how so often a person’s response is, “I hope he (the perpetrator) burns in hell”? That’s our knee jerk, very human response—but left unchallenged, it becomes a cancer that eats away at our peace.

It’s only when we refuse to subscribe to “us” versus “them,” when we look hard enough to find our commonalities, our shared humanity, that we are able to combat that cancer. I’ve read and heard true stories of people, through the commission of a horrific crime, have become tied to each other.

Unholy bonds. Unbreakable and inescapable—unless and until the cycle of hatred and retribution is broken.

We give lots of lip service to compassion and tolerance. Events like these are where we must meet unspeakable atrocity with mercy. But remember, mercy is not wimpy. Mercy does not simply roll over and say, “Oh, that’s okay. I forgive. And forget. Hey, that was easy!” Nope. Mercy doesn’t make excuses, mercy looks deeper. Mercy looks at the heart. And if the heart is not ready for mercy, not ready for remorse or repentance, then mercy cannot find its home there.

Yet.

Never underestimate the capacity for the human heart to change.

Could I love the man who harmed me? No, not at first. Not for a long time. Years. Not until I finally began to see him through God’s prism, through God’s eyes. Not until I recognized the truth that God wept for me when the wrong was done, and He wept for the perpetrator, too, because in conceiving and executing the wrong, the man was harming himself as much as he harmed me.

In the end, we must all realize that dignity has been lost. The damage to the dignity of the victims is easy for us to see. The damage to the dignity of the perpetrator is much more difficult, and it’s hardest when the event hits close to home both personally and in the context of time. It’s that dignity that must be restored in some way or another, whether through forgiveness, like Jesus on the cross (“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”), or through Restorative Justice, where healing comes when dignity is restored to all involved. And yes, that works best when there is accountability and contrition on the perpetrator’s part.

But what if the perpetrator is dead? Like the terrible shooting in Orlando? Or unrepentant, as in the case of Brock Turner (following the lead of his father)? Forgiveness isn’t dependent upon the perpetrator’s ability or willingness to admit culpability. Otherwise, the Hatfields and McCoys would be right: there’s no hope for healing and growth; we might as well devote our lives (and deaths) to retribution for wrongs long ago forgotten.

That’s where the great mystery of forgiveness comes in. To steal from AA: Let go and let God. To amend the saying for a secular approach: Let go of grudges; they may be justified, but they only drag us down. Letting go is truly the only path to peace, no matter one’s religious beliefs or lack thereof. (This in no way negates accountability and consequences on the part of the perpetrator.)

Today, we are all raw. It feels too much, too hard to look toward love when we hurt this much. But perhaps in our small attempts to find healing for ourselves and for others, we may find grace and a bit of mercy, and we may find ourselves restored just a tiny bit. Enough to make it through our next breath, then the next hour, on through tonight, and then into tomorrow. And with enough tomorrows and enough grace and enough mercy, we might come to embrace the truth that we are all more alike than different, that we all have the capacity to loose great evil upon the world, and that we all desperately need the restoration that comes from recognizing our shared humanity.

As we leave this horrific day, let me pray for you. If you feel so inclined, pray for me. Together, let us encounter, if not the divine in each other, then at least our shared humanity.

Peace.  

Posted in Forgiveness, Restorative Justice, Unholy Bonds | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Podcasts on Allison Gingras’s “A Seeking Heart” radio program

I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Allison Gingras on her radio program, A Seeking Heart, twice – the second time today. She is a gifted speaker, and makes it easy to carry on a conversation when you have no idea who might be listening, or how many people will check out the podcast later. Comfortable with the notion of radio, she also radiates confidence to her guests. At least, she does that for me!

The first time, in December of 2015, was my first experience with radio, and boy was I nervous! Allison assured me numerous times that the show was going well, even when I stumbled over my words at one point. (I’ve never gotten brave enough to listen to that podcast!) But it was a great learning experience, and I’m grateful that she invited me to talk about Christmas Hope and Christmas Grace, my two holiday novellas.

Today we talked about Opal’s Jubilee, book 3 of The Appalachian Foothills series, the most loosely linked of the series at that point. Opal comes from the fictional town of Jubilee in Eastern Kentucky, deep in the Appalachian hollows. But Jubilee also refers to the Jewish custom of the holy year of Jubilee, celebrated in the Old Testament every 50th year, when captives go free and debts are forgiven. This will mean something to Opal by the end of the book…

We also talked about Pope Francis’s Jubilee Year of Mercy, which is a focus of Catholic life worldwide through the end of this year. Opal experiences mercy as she finds her way in a society that would rather condemn than allow her a chance. She finds it in May Boone, the owner of a quilt shop, and in her hard-won freedom now that’s she’s out of prison and on parole. Eventually, she experiences the mercy of forgiveness and redemption, and true freedom, no matter where and how she will spend the rest of her life.

Being an author has plunged me into many endeavors that I never expected. Talk about pushing past one’s comfort zone, expanding one’s horizons. I will give all credit to Allison for introducing me to the medium of radio, and for helping this introvert step into its magical world! 

Posted in Amazon, Appalchian Foothills series, Christmas Hope, Creative Process, Creativity, gratitude, holiday, Leslie Lynch, Opal's Jubilee, Radio, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fiction From the Foothills: Interview with Leslie Lynch

Here’s a great interview (of me) that my friend, Carolyn Astfalk, posted on her blog. Great, thought-provoking questions. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Posted in Appalchian Foothills series, Audible, audiobooks, Catholic Writers Guild, Christmas Hope, Creative Process, Creativity, gratitude, Hijacked, Leslie Lynch, Opal's Jubilee, Romance Writers of America, Uncategorized, Unholy Bonds, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Second Watch, by J.A. Jance

Book Cover Second Watch by J.A. JanceI picked up a copy of J.A. Jance’s book, Second Watch, the other day – and knew I was in for a good read. She’s dependable that way! But I had no idea how the story would impact me emotionally.

Woven into the (excellent, as usual) mystery was Viet Nam.

I was a little too young to be fully impacted, but as so many of that era, the conflict – both overseas and at home – left an indelible scar.

Second Watch resurrected my memories, which are nowhere near as traumatic as those many bear. Yet, I wept. For those lost, for those who do bear the harsh memories, and for those who still have unfinished business.

I didn’t realize how deep the unfinished business was for me. It’s “in” to blog/tweet/facebook, etc., about the rawness of such, but I won’t do that. Suffice it to say, it’s raw.

I will say, though, read this book if you lived through the Viet Nam era. Read this book if you have lived through the Iraq and Afghanistan era. Read this book if you have been touched by war, even if you’ve never been to war.

Second Watch brought me face to face with one of the few regrets I have about my life; thanks to Jance’s writing I will seek healing around that issue.

Thank you, J.A. Jance, for the work of your heart, and thank you, Bonnie Abney, for your selflessness in sharing the story of Leonard Douglas Davis, one man lost in Viet Nam.

Peace.

Posted in Creative Process, gratitude, Leslie Lynch, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Star Reviews for HIJACKED!

I am incredibly humbled and (so very) pleased at the reception Hijacked has received since it launched last week! Here are some snippets of reviews and other comments:

“From the very first chapter, I was hooked on Hijacked! Throughout, the characters Lannis and Ben are complex: endearing yet never saccharine. The plot veers from heart-pounding action into tender introspection without missing a beat.” – Erin McCole Cupp

“Hijacked is superbly written, and the story deals with issues that are relevant to many women today, unfortunately. If you like a clean, beautiful and inspiring book, then you’ll love this one.” -Sandy Lee

“…this is one of those few books I think any reader would enjoy no matter what’s going on in their own life. It’s got page-turning suspense, plenty of romance without being sappy or vulgar, and just enough inspiration to make it an uplifting read without being ‘preachy.’ I loved that the characters were just ordinary people put into extraordinary circumstances.” – Angie Ballard

“This suspense novel written for a female audience moved me to tears at one point, and kept me reading far more than I really had time to do. Lannis is a strong main character, even as she deals with struggles against physical, psychological and spiritual odds. You’ll find yourself rooting for her. Highly recommended.” – Barabara Szyszkewicz

“The characters, especially Lannis and Ben, are well-developed, believable and likeable. Hijacked is an exciting, edge of seat romantic suspense novel that also covers some difficult topics with sensitivity. An ideal beach read.” – Ellen Gable Hrkach

Thank you, readers, for completing the work I began by writing this book.

Posted in Book Launch, Creative Process, Creativity, gratitude, Leslie Lynch | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

My Writing Process blog relay!

Thank you, super-nice and extremely talented Sonali Dev, for inviting me to participate in the My Writing Process blog tour! I really enjoyed reading about Sonali’s simple chaos process, probably because I can relate so well! I will address why I relate so well when I get to Question 4, below…

What am I working on?

As is usual for me, I am working on a number of different projects at once. I am in the final stages of preparing to release my first novel, Hijacked, on June 2. It will be available on Amazon in both Kindle and print formats. (!!!) Meanwhile, I am doing a quick run-through of my third novel, Opal’s Jubilee, before I send it to my editor, Pam Berehulke of Bulletproof Editing. Then there will be the flurry of technical work to get both that and my second novel, Unholy Bonds, ready for release over the next few weeks.

In terms of new work, I’m working on a Christmas novella for late fall release—and then it’ll be time for a new novel. Ideas are still rolling around in my head for that one. Can’t wait. I love the writing; not quite so much the (very necessary) technical end, so it will be fun to get back to the creative process!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Hmm. My stories have suspense and romance and relationships and twists, and, like Sonali’s books, they tackle difficult issues. What makes mine different? I think it comes down to voice. Each author takes their characters on a unique journey; the unique journey is informed by who the author has become over their own lifetime. Therefore, my characters and their situations tend to be contemplatives thrown into dire situations which challenge everything they believe about themselves. While my books do not fall into the Inspirational genre, the characters do wrestle with their assumptions regarding God. You’ve probably figured out by now that you won’t be reading hot sex scenes in my books—but the stories are gripping and poignant, and don’t always go where you expect.

Why do I write what I do?

This is both the easiest and most difficult question to answer. Like Stephen King, I write to get the nightmares out of my head. Now, my nightmares are much different than his; ergo, my books are not horror novels! But the idea is the same. I can allow my characters to be what I am not, and am inspired by them. They surprise me when I put them into situations that would steal my breath. They display courage that I want to appropriate for myself. They struggle, make mistakes, and eventually earn a happy ending. Life doesn’t always provide those, so if I can write one, then maybe I can transform reality for both myself and the reader, if only for the moment. I’ve been touched and encouraged and uplifted by so many authors over the years, and in unexpected genres. I hope I can do the same for readers.

How does your writing process work?

This where I identify most with Sonali! Chaos! Yes. All of my books begin with a character who springs pretty much fully formed into my mind. Hijacked was born as I preflighted Cessnas for early morning traffic flights–and wondered what if…? For being in the middle of the city, the airport is a very lonely place at oh-dark-thirty. Once the notion took root, it wouldn’t let go. Unholy Bonds sprouted from articles I read about South Africa under Nelson Mandela and the process of Restorative Justice. I was fascinated. What if…? Opal’s Jubilee blossomed from the controversial pardons or paroles granted by then-Governor Ernie Fletcher of several women in Kentucky who had killed their abusers. But what if…?

From there, I begin writing and discover more about the characters and their circumstances. I write linearly, which means that while I often know where I’m going, I may not know how to get there. It would likely be a lot easier if I could write the scene where I intend to go, then fill in, but my brain balks at the notion. This is the source of whatever writer’s block I encounter. I am unable to create a detailed outline, but happened upon a class called The Hero’s Journey for Heroines, taught by Laurie Schnebly Campbell and based on The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock. This process has helped me create a loose outline that keeps me on track yet allows for creative freedom.

Mostly I sit at the computer and type, mutter under my breath, delete, then type something else until I get it sorta right. It looks boring from the outside, but I am so focused that I often zone out and notice very little about my surroundings. If I get stuck, the best thing for me is to go outside and do something physical. When do I write? Any time of the day or night in snatches of five minutes to hours (when I’m lucky). And where? Anywhere. Literally. Thank God I don’t need silence. I do, however, need to avoid conversation. I cannot switch those gears quickly, which drives my husband to distraction.

Since writing is solitary yet community-based, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my local writing cheerleaders: Louisville Romance Writers, and critique partners Sandy Loyd and Caroline Fyffe. They, along with many other writing friends, keep me going when I get discouraged.

Who’s up next week on the My Writing Process blog tour?

Contemporary romance writers Jacqueline Floyd and Nan Dixon, both of whom I met last year as co-finalists in Romance Writers of America’s® 2013 Golden Heart® contest. Both are wonderful people, close to publication, and great fun! Also, Erin McCole-Cupp, a fellow member of Catholic Writers Guild, who just released Don’t You Forget About Me, a cozy mystery featuring a tomato-pie-loving heroine. Please be sure to visit them next Monday, June 2!

Again, thanks, Sonali, for the chance to share in the My Writing Process blog tour!

Posted in Catholic Writers Guild, Creative Process, Creativity, Golden Heart, gratitude, Leslie Lynch, Romance Writers of America, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

An open letter to survivors of the Navy Yard shooting

NavSea PrayersFirst, thank God you are here to read this. Do not discount this fact. You are alive – and yes, you now carry a burden to bear that seems unbearable. But you have this opportunity to continue breathing and doing good during the remainder of your days.

Second, my deepest condolences for the losses you suffered. Your friends, your colleagues… I cannot imagine the depth of grief and pain. All any of us can do is offer our love, and accompany you as you walk this dark valley.

You probably wonder why you survived and your co-workers did not. Set that question aside for now. There is no answer. As for the anguish of why?, there will be theories and some reasons – none of them adequate to justify the deaths of your colleagues, and none of them sufficient to return life to the way it was at eight o’clock Monday morning.

You survived. Now you face an impossible task. Or at least it appears that way.

Healing.

You will never be the same. Your family and friends did not go through this with you, and cannot fully understand what you endured or how you feel. Do not use that as a reason to shut them out. Rather, educate them. That requires you to open your mouth and let them see your bruised heart. This wound, invisible as it is, will fester and ruin your life if you hold it like a secret.

There’s a good chance that you need to forgive yourself, especially if you are military. Like civilian first responders, the focus of your life and training is to protect the rest of us. Your instinct was most likely to rush to the threat and neutralize it.

If you’re beating yourself up because you did not do that, please look at it from another perspective.

What did you do when you recognized the situation?

Did you realize that rushing out to confront the shooter or to aid the injured at that moment would not be successful? That you were unarmed, and facing an unpredictable and deadly threat? Seeking shelter, then, was the first step in survival – and remember, you, alive, were (and are) more effective than you, dead.

When able, did you help co-workers get to a safe room and barricade the door? Did you, in an act of unrehearsed teamwork, assess the potential for escape – and then implement a plan? My guess is that you were one of the last people (if not the last) out of the room and down that hallway.

And was that your voice, authoritative and calm, instructing people to not panic, to not push their way down the stairs? What about when you all reached an area where you could help direct terrified people to safety? Bet you didn’t run. In fact, I bet you took charge.

I would bet my house on the fact that your training saved you and saved others.

Please let yourself look at it through this lens.

And please accept help. Being in the military doesn’t mean that you are immune to grief or fear or stress. Nor does it mean that you must always save/serve others. Sometimes it’s your turn to receive – and that’s one of the hardest lessons to learn. But it is as necessary to your continued survival as your ‘survive, evade, resist, and escape’ training was in getting you to this point.

Reach out to get the help you need, whether it’s one-on-one counseling or a support group or calling a hotline in the middle of the night. Let your family/friends know what helps, and don’t hesitate to ask. No one can read your mind in the best of circumstances; don’t expect them to read it now, when you are emotionally battered.

Grief is its own process, and takes time to work through. No one grieves the same way, and there is no “right” way to do it. But it must be done, or it will drag you under.

PTSD is likely to rear its ugly head. Learn your triggers, and learn how to cope. We know so much more about it than we did even ten years ago; get help if you need it.

A word about substance abuse: You may very well need some help right now. Something to help you sleep, or to alleviate anxiety. Use those the same way you use any tool, judiciously, for the purpose intended, and as needed. Alcohol doesn’t help anything; it sure as hell doesn’t numb the feelings or make you forget. All things in moderation, and be vigilant for signs of abuse. Dial it back before that turns into its own problem.

Whether you are a practicing believer or not, allow the possibility of letting God into your life, a little bit or a little deeper. He wants nothing more than to stop the world and concentrate on healing your soul.

This is a tough time. I have faith that you can make it through, one breath, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. I love you. Your family loves you. Your friends love you. Your nation supports you.

You’ve acted with honor and courage. Now commit to your own healing.

Peace. 

Posted in gratitude, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments