I am a native of Chicago and have lived in Southwest Missouri since 1982. My husband of 26 years, Hugh, is a retired Physics and Chemistry teacher. We live on a 30-acre hobby farm with several horses, some dogs, cats and a duck. We have three married daughters and nine (soon to be ten!) grandchildren.
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Masters in Guidance in Counseling from Missouri State University (1992). In October 2001, I had the privilege of serving with a Crisis Response team, traveling to New York to provide support to families who lost loved ones in the attack. This occurred just six months after the untimely loss of our 18-year-old Son. These events became part of my resolve to embrace all that happens in life and use it to extend support and understanding to others.
Throughout an extended portion of my career, I provided mental health treatment (directly, not using an interpreter) to people who are Deaf. This set me on a path of researching and implementing the relationship between successful treatment outcomes and a system of delivery that is affirmative to one’s specific culture; not unlike civilians who work with military individuals and families. My friends and family served in Viet Nam. My father served in the Navy. My Great Uncle served in the United States Air Force, 1942-1972. He was a Lieutenant Colonel and pilot of a B-17 bomber, with a flight log recording 20 successful missions. Still, I understand my strongest connection is knowing what I don’t know, and understanding I will always be a student of military culture.
I have worked with the Lone Survivor Foundation for two years. When I first began talking with them, I had already traded my office for a pasture in preference to the transformation brought about by the use of horses in mental health treatment. I am certified in the experiential, solution-focused EAGALA model of equine assisted therapy. How pleased I was to learn Lone Survivor includes EAGALA work at their retreats also. I have been honored to work with LSF as a Behavioral Consultant and as the mental health member of the Equine team.
For the first several months, I was intrigued while listening to retreat participants share the outcomes of their Accelerated Resolution Therapy (A.R.T.) sessions. In a short time, they were able to experience relief from traumatic symptoms and triggers. I took the training, and now also provide A.R.T. to attendees.
After working at almost 20 retreats, there are so many memories and highlights I will treasure. I love when we raise the Stars and Stripes on the first day. The jokes and riddles at meal time. When someone rather skeptically agrees to try a new modality and ends up asking for extra sessions. Watching attendees hike to the beach together, exchanging contact information.
My favorite part is our closing group – together at dinner, around the fire pit or just having coffee… The reflections come from the heart; getting on that plane and arriving at the airport…a beautiful and quiet facility…the meals!… new information and so many new resources…no judgment…feeling respected, now knowing I’m not alone…connection…laughter and safety…authentic conversations…change…challenge…hope and renewal…gratitude…The box of tissues usually makes its way around the circle.
I count the time between retreats like the countdown to a holiday. I love what happens during those five short days. It is tough for me to say goodbye at the end. But I have confidence that our honored guests are not leaving the same as they were when they arrived. They come to do the work of healing, growing and continuing to serve. As I travel back home, I thank God for the opportunity to have a small part in their journey. I thank Him for the people who give time and resources to make the retreats possible. In so many ways LSF is continuing to carry out the mission to Never Quit.