Friday, August 22, 2014

No Place to Hide- Book Review

No Place to Hide is the true story of neurosurgeon W. Lee Warren's deployment to the biggest Air Force hospital of the Iraq War. Dr. Warren details the stark differences between performing brain surgery in a state of the art San Antonio trauma center and in the middle of a war zone.  While surgeons in the U.S. may refuse to use an instrument they don't like (or throw it across the room), military surgeons in Iraq may have to wait hours for a set of instruments to be sterilized.  Dr. Warren had to adapt to an environment where supplies are in short demand, surgery may be performed while missiles are landing 100 yards away, and medical personnel must treat soldiers and terrorists with the same level of care.

Dr. Warren describes the stress and fatigue of his 120 days in Iraq so clearly that some readers may feel some stress just reading about it.  Aside from the challenges of being in a battle zone, he describes his personal struggles as well.  Facing divorce as he was deployed, Dr. Warren shares his disappointment with a failed marriage and fear of separation from his children, the testing of his faith, and the effect Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) had on him after his return to the States.

I have no background in the military as neither I nor anyone in my immediate family has served in the military, and I selected this book in part to stretch my usual reading selections.  I did not expect to be as taken with this book as I was, but I read it voraciously within a couple of days.  I highly recommend this book as anyone can relate to his struggles with faith and overcoming challenges and the depiction of life in a war zone is so insightful.  Some of the content may be disturbing for people who also struggle with PTSD or those are upset by descriptions of violence or serious injuries.  There are also eight pages of color photos from Dr. Warren's deployment with two photos showing injuries or surgery.

This book was provided to me for free by BookLook in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Birthday Weekend Spectacular

Saturday was my 38th birthday, and Sunday was S's 8th birthday.  The benefit of having birthdays back to back is the extended period of celebrating.  The downside of having birthdays back to back is the extended period of celebrating.  I was the only one awake at 10:30 pm Sunday night staring at a chocolate cake and a cookie cake- not cool.

For my birthday, I saw "The Hundred Foot Journey" and really liked it!  First of all, it stars Helen Mirren- love her.  Second, it is set largely in France, which is always a winner for me.  I haven't been to France (yet), but it is a biggie on my bucket list.  Third, the movie centers of a young chef, AKA delicious food is shown. Again, a winning topic for me.  It also doesn't hurt that star Manish Dayal is pretty easy on the eyes.

I went to a theater that lets you order dinner or drinks and they deliver it to you during the movie.  This may be old hat to some of you, but this is the first time I tried it and it was just as good as I expected.  Relaxing in a big comfy seat, watching a movie while a server brings you hot food and a glass of wine- perfection.  I ended up chit-chatting with the women sitting next to me before the movie started.  (Apologies to her husband who was largely ignored.)  We had a lot in common and she was really nice.  Plus, she has the same name as my BFF and sister, so that is a good sign, right?  At the end of the movie, the woman handed me her phone number and said to call her sometime.  Since I am trying to make and take new opportunities in life, and it is the complete opposite of what I would normally do, I think I will see if she wants to meet for coffee or something.

For S's birthday, she wanted a manicure and to have lunch at Cheesecake Factory.  She very specifically told me not to tell the server that it was her birthday because she didn't want them to sing to her.  She did not, however, pass this information on to her dad.  Can you see how thrilled she was to get all that attention?

HAHAHAHA!  Once she was eating the chocolate pudding cup they brought, she was all good again.  It was a great  birthday, but I will not be sad to see all this extra sugar in the house go away.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Happiness- Found or Made?

When I am going through a tough time, it is very easy for me to not see anything positive or happy.  I have a tendency toward depression that I have struggled with for years, with varying degrees of seriousness.  If you have ever experienced depression, it can be difficult just to get out of bed and eventually make yourself shower- looking for the upside was not a high priority to me.  I'm going through one of my lowest points in life right now, but I've been thinking a lot about happiness.  As in, I want happiness.  : )  I mentioned some marriage trouble in a previous post.  Well, Hubs moved out of the house Friday, our deceased son's birthday was Saturday and Sunday was the anniversary of his death.  I really expected the weekend to suck, but it was surprisingly okay.  Not great, but okay.  Here are some reasons I think I'm doing better than expected.

1) I hate chaos and the unknown.  It makes me crazy.  To counteract the chaos, I've started taking control. There is still a lot of uncertainty in my life, but rather than sit back and see what happens I've starting taking the reins.  Some actions are concrete, like opening my own bank accounts and finding my own therapist; other things are a conscious change in perspective.  It has helped tremendously to talk with other friends who have gone through similar situations and have every single one say "you'll be a better and happier person when you get through it." It's happening anyway, so I might as well figure out what about it will bring me happiness.

2) had this article on five ways to get happy.  I've been especially working on the being thankful part.  I've started praying again after a nine year absence, and since this marital mess started happening I've been telling God three things I am grateful for every day.  Now, some days I was just grateful that the day was over but I was able to come up with three things every day.  I can usually come up with more than three now.

3) A very wise friend sent me an Elizabeth Gilbert quote that contained the words "Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation." How awesome is that?  I'm looking at the "ruins" of my life as a chance to change things and be a better and happier person. I went on a tour and wine tasting at a local winery I have wanted to visit for years.  I've started visiting a church with the girls for the first time in a few years.  I'm more open to expanding my circle of friends and experiencing new things than I was before.  I also starting looking at what relationships are complete downers and cutting those out of my life (thank you, Facebook unfriend button).

For a lot of years, I based happiness on circumstances and waited to find happiness, like it was a magical unicorn you just happen upon in the forest.  I'm starting to feel like happiness is something you pursue or create for yourself.  And I fully intend to have it.

How about you?  Are you a generally happy person?  Do you think your happiness (or lack thereof) is circumstantial or more an issue of perspective?