Thursday, May 28, 2015


In the 1990's, the United States enacted the Safe-Haven laws, also known as Baby Moses laws in reference to the story in religious scriptures. The laws allow for infants to be left safely, usually at hospitals, police stations, or firehouses, without criminalizing the act. Saving the lives of innocents by giving people unable, unprepared, or unwilling to care for a newborn an outlet to relinquish care without retribution or threat. It has saved over 2,100 young lives since 1999.

Sometimes we all need a safe haven to survive. A safe place to seek shelter, find support, and provide comfort. Sometimes we need the help of others to be safe.

Survivors need help surviving. We need havens of solace and peace. Understanding ears to listen and supportive hands to hold. We all need to be hugged and loved.

Trauma is not a safe environment, so it's incredibly important to offer your support and kindness to someone during their time of crisis, as well as accept the offers so you do not face trauma alone.

Sometimes your safest place turns out not to be a location, but a person. Make room in your heart for each other as a haven for healing. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Residue of Sand

Tibetan Buddhist monks have a tradition of creating and destroying elaborate mandalas made of colored sand or dyed stones. It symbolizes the transitory nature of material life and the ephemerality of the world. Basically, things as they appear do not last forever. We shortly return to the world and start over.

Chinese philosophy has the yin-yang, contrary forces interconnected and complementary. Opposing to form a dynamic system which is bigger than itself. Basically, balance in equal measure of a whole, light and dark, revealed and hidden.

Survivors and the people who face surviving with them face a lot of darkness. The camaraderie of surviving is a powerful and positive force. In times of great turmoil, we have the ability to give each other peace and provide light in heavy shadows.

However, as we grow and heal, we have to be careful and aware of this balance. For each destructive darkness, we must make the effort in equal measure for the creation of light.

It's often easy, when having trusted sharing darkness with someone, to succumb to the routine where we mostly turn to them in times of darkness for comfort and support, only to turn from them during times of joy and light. While it is natural and healthy to seek peace after surviving weighted crisis, in doing so, we may not always be aware of who we leave behind, how we forget, and what precedence we create for returning. A dangerous cycle of loss with no gain can be casually and devastatingly created if we fail to see the balance shifting in time to amend our behaviors.

It can become cruel to trust someone deeply enough to pull them close and cherish their comfort in crisis, while distancing yourself from them in times of happiness and stability. It is painful to only share the hurt with someone, while locking them away from other parts of your life. There is no balance in that action and it erodes the connection once shared. It removes the positive from the negative and leaves only the destruction.

If a monk only destroyed the sand and never took the time to create the beautiful design, it would leave only the residue of colored dust, with an ever fading memory of what part the colors once played. If we removed the reflective yang leaving only the overcast yin, the world would be left in shadows.

Long-term recovery is impossible when someone's role becomes so weighted to the lopsided. We can all make it through the dark, but only by being allowed moments of light on the other side. We can go through hell together, as long as we can keep going up and into something better.

We have to be as thankful and respectful of sharing the light as we are of support within the dark. We have to take the time to recognize and cultivate this graceful balance. To truly survive, we have to bring people with us into the light, not just return on occasion to revisit them sharing in the dark.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Beautiful Mathematical

This past weekend, John Nash, the mathematician depicted in the book and movie "A Beautiful Mind" died in a car accident with his wife, Alicia Nash. They were both in their 80's. 

Despite the story of their lives being partially told in film, few people realize that while spending years together, the couple were not always a couple. They married in 1957. But, within two years, while she was pregnant with their son, John Nash began to exhibit the first signs of mental illness. She fought to have him committed and he always, even in the throes of delusion, fought not to be treated. The strain of dealing with his schizophrenia would lead to their divorce four years later, in 1963. 

However, the divorce would not be the final chapter in their story. 

John Nash would try numerous medications while going in and out of hospitals and treatment centers until 1970. At that time, Alicia took him into her home as a boarder. She looked after him, accepted him, and loved him despite the fracture of their marriage. She believed in his worth as a person, regardless of his struggles with his sanity. This stability helped him reconnect with reality, get off medication, and learn how to disregard his delusions allowing him to regain his life. With her support, he returned to mathematics and academic success, winning the Nobel Prize. 

John Nash would credit Alicia with saving his life and they remarried in 2001. She stated simply that they thought it would be a good idea since they had been together most of their lives.

Trauma, crisis, and illness are very stressful on close relationships. It's exhausting and hard to face the struggle of a loved one and equally as hard to allow love in when you are in the middle of struggling to survive. But, love can heal and is vital to the healing process.

Love and acceptance are part of how we survive. It is important to be open to your connection with loved ones during times of crisis. Even when overwhelmed by the hard aspects of trauma, we can find the humanity in each other. Even when distance forces its way in, we can not lose focus on what brought us together as people in the first place.

Not all of us may understand the complicated principles and higher theories of mathematics, but we all know love adds deep texture and support to the chaos of our lives. No one ever survives alone.

Monday, May 25, 2015


Some of our bravest survivors only survive in our memories. Beautiful souls who fought for life and were taken from us too soon.

It's often quite hard to remember them without experiencing anew the sharp pain of their loss, but it is important to soften that hurt by taking the time to find the grace and beauty in your memories of the life they left behind.

With every tear shed, take a moment to breathe in the joy and love you shared with them while they were here. Remember their smiles, their comforting touch, and their unique presence. Look back on a private, special moment shared and find peace in it. Close your eyes, inhale a memory, and give them life again within that moment of rememberance.

We are all survivors and we all carry within us those who survive now only in our memories. Do not let them be forgotten. Light a candle in your heart and allow its comforting glow to warm your soul for all love remembered will forever help to light your way.

Find the beauty they shared with you and apply it anew to your life. This Memorial Day, remember those who survived before you and shared their love with you. Breathe in the memory of their life and live brave so they can continue to live on in you.

If you want, you can light a Gratefulness candle today, in memory of a survivor you love.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lost Boys

Alcoholism and addiction are traumas which potentially keep traumatizing. A form of crisis which often repeats time and time again. There can be healing and recovery, but unlike some other traumas, the healing and recovery are truly lifelong. Even in recovery, the threat of re-occurrence looms dangerously in the wings ready to take the stage.

The affects are devastating, emotionally and physically, on the addict or alcoholic and the people who love them. The stages of relapse are overwhelming and complexly shrouded in denial, apology, guilt, shame, regret, fear, sadness and loss. Bearing witness to the affects of this trauma involve layers of love, fear, anger, confusion and hurt. It is overwhelming on all levels and all sides.

Support is vital to survival, whether facing the affects for the first time or the fourth-hundredth. We have to believe in each other's worth, even when we are struggling to believe in our own worth. Hope is mandatory, even when things appear beyond hopeless.

Even when doors are shutting you out and lights are getting turned off, even when people hide from view, we must support the opening of a window. We all must look deep for any glimmer of light and let more light in.

In the case of relapses, or slips, tt can be frustrating and additionally traumatic when the person needing support feels like they are letting people down again, just as it can be hard for the people offering support to find themselves facing a familiar situation.

You have to believe in recovery at all costs and you have to voice your belief, whether you are the survivor fighting to be sober or the person standing beside them offering support.

Like Peter Pan, the leader of the Lost Boys in Neverland, fighting to keep Tinkerbell alive, you have to clap if you believe. You can not let your own or someone else's light go out, no matter how often you have to clap or how loud. You can not stop believing or fighting, no matter how dim the light may become. There is hope, because love matters.

Peter Pan believed in Tinkerbell. Wendy believed in Peter Pan. Belief and love, along with understanding, acceptance and forgiveness, brought all those touched by Neverland together helping them to survive.

Hear the ruckus and reach for the sound of support. Keep making a ruckus until your clapping is heard. All is not lost, even when you feel you are at your most lost. Do not give up. Fight for the light within. We are each too important to lose. Our light matters and is treasured by another.

Note: Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous hold meetings and offer support with recovery every day throughout the world. Al-Anon and Nar-Anon offer support to those who love those struggling with alcoholism and addiction. There is help and understanding out there. You do not have to survive alone. We are all clapping together. We believe.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Recently, the Emmy winning television show Justified aired its series finale.

The creators of the show chose, instead of gunfire or fanfare, to end with a quiet conversation between the two main characters engaging with each other through a glass partition in a prison visiting room.  

Deputy U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, played by Timothy Olyphant, spoke to Boyd Crowder, played by Walton Goggins. Two characters who grew up together in Harlan County, Kentucky and worked together in the coal mines in their youth. 

As often happens in life, choices were made and their paths diverged, one as a lawman and the other as the criminal he pursued. Over the years, the show focused often on their paths intersecting.

In the final moments of this complex and engaging series, the prisoner Crowder asked the Marshall Givens. who helped incarcerate him. why he came in person to convey news of a woman they had both loved when it would have been easier to just send word.

The answering exchange ended the series:

"Well I suppose if I allowed myself to be sentimental despite all that has occurred there is one thing I wander back to."
"We dug coal together."
"That's right."

Survivors are forever bound to the people who survived with them. No matter the traumas, crises, or changes which transpire after, there will always be a connection between them. A truth no one else with ever know or understand the weight of. Surviving is shared and that sharing can never be undone. When you walk into battle together, when one sits vigil at your side, you will remain connected no matter what happens after. 

We may have trouble voicing it. It may stay forever unspoken or acknowledged. It can never adequately be explained so that others will understand the complete depth of it. 

We, ourselves, may become quite different. Distance may occur, life may go on, people may grow, memories may fade, and paths may diverge; but, the seed which was planted together during your fight to survive grows deep roots, an unspoken anchor which can never be dug up.

It is part of our humanity, this connection to those who face life with us. In those last words of Justified, I have never seen so complex a truth put so simply. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Expect Delays

Survivor Jewelry is about people surviving. But, the site has been quiet for a little while, because sometimes survivors have to drop everything to help others survive.

Crisis can arise without warning. Accidents happen. Unforeseen traumas occur. Life gets put on hold to fight for life to continue or to sit vigil with someone fighting.

We can suddenly be faced with an urgent version of hurry up and wait. Waiting for word, waiting for treatment, waiting for outcomes, waiting for pain to stop and waiting to heal. Fighting to survive has a lot of waiting in it.

We can all expect delays.

Crisis is not averted in a moment. Healing does not occur overnight. The unfortunate truth is that trauma tends to remain traumatic for a while.

Be prepared for the wait.

Be prepared that waiting is expensive, stressful, painful and hard. Healing takes a lot of time and effort. Allow yourself moments to decompress and recompose. Forgive yourself for over reactions and fear.

Do not let go of hope, no matter how hopeless things may feel. Be thankful for every second with the people you love, even when the minutes tick by endlessly.

Expect delays, but never stop fighting to survive or for those you love's survival.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Womb to Tomb

We are all the children of someone. Throughout our life entire, we will always be that child, even as we grow old, even if we have children ourselves.

From the womb to the tomb, Mothers are part of our survival, for they give us more than life. They are the first relationship that shapes us and, more often than not, one of the more prevalent relationships we return to over the years. 

No matter the role they play in our lives, they will guide us forever, for they helped shape us from the beginning. They remain with us, beyond even death, for they are a part of our blood and that blood will be present in our every heartbeat to our very end.

Mothers are far from perfect, for they are just people like the rest of us, but to each of us, they have the ability to shine beyond their flaws because they are our mother. We can forgive and forget and take comfort in what is shared and remembered. 

They help us survive and a lot of us will face a time when we help them survive, whether in actual life or in fond memories. 

Be thankful for your mother today, whether you are blessed enough to hold her hand or need to light a candle in her memory instead. Sing a song of thanks in your heart today, you survive because once she gave you life. 

Hold her hand. Light a candle. Smell a rose. Smile at a thought. Take a moment to remember and reflect on the journey we are on and those who started that journey with us.
Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Support Beams

Sharing love and receiving emotional support is vital to our survival. 

We each hold the foundation of our soul within us. However, throughout our lives, the love we receive are the beams which hold us together, while the support we receive during times of crisis are the scaffolding which helps keeps us whole during times of much needed repair.

Never underestimate the affect of even the smallest amount of emotional support and shared kindness. One smile may make all the difference in someone getting through their darkest moment. One act of kindness could come at the exact moment it can make the greatest difference. 

These acts have impact. They can restore and save a soul. 

Support beams often feel the added weight it takes to support, but they are an integral part of how all things manage to stand the test of time. 

Stand for another. Hold up another. Help to repair and hold dear someone in crisis. We all need support at one time or another, even when we are afraid to admit it. We make a difference in each other's lives.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Going to Terms

In the early 1980's, film-goers were shocked and moved by Shirley Maclaine's performance, in Terms of Endearment, as a mother who's daughter was dying of cancer . She won an Academy Award for her portrayal.

The scene which garnered the most attention was one in which a frantic Maclaine demands timely pain medicine for her daughter. Slamming her fist on the counter of the nurses's station, she relentlessly fights for help and medicine to ease the suffering of her adult child. The basic humanity and raw honesty of this scene is still full of insight and impact to this day.

Loved ones who help survivors survive often are faced with moments like these. Moments where they have to speak up and fight for the person they love, to ease their suffering and get them the help they need.

Sometimes you have to "Go Terms of Endearment" to get people to pay attention and provide you with the help you need, to help the people you care about survive. Especially during times of pain, when timely treatment may be delayed, overlooked or underestimated. 

There is no need to be belligerent or hostile, but...
You have the right and the responsibility to request help for someone who might not be able to properly ask for the help themselves. 
You have the right and responsibility to keep asking and demanding assistance if no help comes.

If a nurse can not help, ask for a doctor. If that doctor can not help, ask for a different doctor.

If someone will not listen, do not stop speaking up. Make noise until someone hears you. Keep making a ruckus. Do not be silenced or cowered. Be brave and be loud.

Surviving is hard. Sometimes, the survivor has to focus every part of who they are just on breathing in and out to survive to the next moment. 

People who care about those fighting to survive have the equally daunting task of witnessing the suffering and being an advocate for the survivor.

Speak up. Speak out. Ask for help. Demand help if no help comes. 

It is our job to help get help for those we love when they can not ask for help themselves. 

Make a ruckus when you need to. Survivors need help to survive. Give them your voice when their voice is too weak to speak for themselves.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Call Don't Fall

In the hospital today awaiting news of a family member undergoing surgery and surviving trauma, I contemplated an informational sign within view across the hall.

"For Help Call Don't Fall"

It was obviously to request that patients ask for help from a nurse or caregiver before risking an action or movement on their own which could result in a a fall or additional injury while undergoing treatment in the hospital.

However, the signage made for a pretty appropriate metaphor about needing to ask for help during our fights to survive. Daring to ask for help before losing hope and falling into despair.

No one wants to appear needy or be a burden, so we often face crisis alone without speaking up or reaching out. But, we don't need to be alone. It is important to reach for help when you need it.

It takes will and bravery to reach, to ask for help instead of risking an emotional fall. But, it is important we are momentarily courageous, for those brief moments pave the way for the support and help we need to survive. 

Don't be alone. Don't be afraid. Reach for help. Ask for help. 
Call for help, don't fall into despair. Breathe Brave.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Hope Flight

In dark times of crisis and trauma, hope is important.

It provides comfort and strength, when we are at our most vulnerable and weakest. It feeds our faith and dreams, when we feel them begin to ebb. 

No matter what you are facing, allow your hope to soar and dream big. Let it fly on wings which grow large enough to wrap you in comfort and raise you up out of the darkness. Never give up, for even the darkest corners of life have a warm soft glow of light when you look hard enough. 

Believe in something beyond this moment for sometimes that belief can give you the strength to make it to the moment you believed in.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Life Amid Rubble

We have but one body, one heart, one mind, one life, and one Earth.

When one of us survivors, so does the world entire.

Nepal is in trauma. There are people in crisis. 
Do what you can, even from a distance. It will be closely felt.

We each make a difference in the world, make sure you make a difference to the world.

Help UNICEF and the RED CROSS rescue just one life amid the rubble.

Friday, May 1, 2015

No Small Change


Your time, your money, your talent, and your support can make a big difference in lives facing crisis.

Get involved and give. 

People in crisis need things big and small. Often little basic things you don't think of, which make a huge difference in the lives of those struggling.

Hospitals need volunteers, even if just to show newcomers around. Emergencies centers need blood, but sometimes they also need someone just to hand out some juice to the people giving the blood. Sometimes donating involves things you don't immediately think of.

People sitting vigil with people fighting to survive not only need respect, understanding and support, but maybe they also need places to sleep, rides to hospitals, clean clothes, snacks, a blanket, some shampoo, a place to take a shower or get a cup of coffee at 2am. 

When helping someone fight for their life, it is not always easy to take care of the basic things, or even always afford the basics. When facing crisis, we sometimes need a little help to face it better.

Donate whatever you can. There is someone out there somewhere who needs it, whatever it is. Don't have any money or anything to donate? Donate yourself. Your time. Someone can make use of it. 

There is no small change in donating. Every penny, every gift, every unselfish giving act, make for a big difference in the life of survivors.

Sometimes people just need a little help, when they are helping someone they love survive. Sometimes survivors need help to become survivors. Give today, because maybe someone you love with need help tomorrow.

(Note: My mother is in the hospital. I am currently in The Doorways, a hospitality hotel, have just taken the first shower in a couple of days, eaten some rice, and gotten to wash a load of clothes. All donated by total strangers. The laundry room is painted with teddy bears drying on a clothesline, all painted by someone who donated their time. There is a floor for children and transplant patients, and everyone is nice and helpful. It is making a big difference in my ability to remain near my mother and be here as she fights to heal. Thank you for any donations you make now or in the future, because someone benefits greatly.)