Welcome to this week’s edition of "Just a few things," a weekly blog dedicated to sharing a few things I've been doing, thinking, reading or learning throughout the previous week. Many of these things will be inspired by my interactions with you via email or social media... so feel free to drop a comment and share a few things yourself! Let’s get to it:
Something I’m reading: Adding another book to the list... The Tattooist of Auschwitz. I'm a little over half way done in 3 days and can say this novel is beautifully written. The rhythm of the writing and pace of the book leaves you hanging on every word.
From the book: Based on the real-life experiences of Holocaust survivor Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov, author Heather Morris’s novel is a testament to the human spirit and the power of love to bloom in even the darkest places. And it’s hard to imagine a place darker than the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. In 1942, Lale is rounded up with other Slovakian Jews and sent to Auschwitz. Once there, he is given the job oftätowierer, inking numbers into the arms of frightened prisoners at a sickening rate. One of these prisoners is a young woman named Gita--and in spite of their plight, they fall in love. Lale’s position as thetätowierer gives him privileges but does not shield him from the brutality of the camps. Time and again he risks his life to help his fellow prisoners, and my heart was in my throat at the chances he took for Gita and others. Despite the passing of years and the ever present threat of death, Lale and Gita never stop believing in a future together where they can live as husband and wife.
Pick it up in your local bookstore or on Amazon: https://amzn.to/37Nwncf
Something that inspired me: Wednesday evening of this week I posted the following on Facebook and Instagram:
"Thinking of the deployed moms and dads tonight. My corporate gig has required a lot of my time as of late, which is cutting into the time I get to spend with my boy. But, as he snuggled into my shoulder tonight after reading, I realized how lucky I am to still get to come home, tuck him in and kiss him good night. I can’t imagine how tough it is putting your little one in bed one night and knowing the next day you’d be heading out for a 9-12 month trip. These are the moments I won’t understand and the strength I won’t know because I didn’t have a wife or kids when I deployed... and these are the moments most Americans don’t think of when they watch the news or watch war flicks. Thank you to all of our service members, but a special thanks goes out tonight to those deployed with little ones back home."
The response across both platforms was amazingly positive. Often times posts like these are spontaneous and every time they're from the heart. I have no intention of changing minds or perceptions through them, but this one seemed to give a moment of pause to the readers and help them see the struggle of deployments in a different light.
Thank you to those of you who weighed in and shared your deployment experience or new way of seeing our military.
Something I’m struggling with: A caveat to this one is that I'm not complaining at all, but doing nothing more than sharing a real life struggle. Time management is elusive. My corporate job has been undergoing a transformational change for the better part of a year now and the demands of the work have been greatly increasing, reaching a climax this week and next. They aren't physical desmans (I mean, come on, it's an office job), but the mental exhaustion at the end of the day is real.
Combat Flags is taking a hit because of it, but I'm hoping things clear up and balance back out in a week or two. In the meantime, bear with me. My focus has been, rightfully so, on my family and the corporate gig, but I'm not loving seeing Combat Flags take a dip.
Something I need from you: Not a huge ask, I promise. One simple question: What do you do for inspiration? When times are tough or when you're so stuck in the process of life, what do you do to influence creativity?
Alright, that wraps up this week's edition of Just a Few Things. I encourage you to leave a comment on this post or on social media to let me know a few things of your own!
And be sure to checkout the store for some of the most unique Americana out there.
The bad news is that a few of my established partners have had to close down their production, which means I can’t place new orders for products like the 3x5 foot camo flags. I’m nearly out of the Army/Air Force and Marine Corps flags, and once they’re gone I’m not sure how long it will take to get things back up and running. Another example is that of the Combat Patch. I’ve been working on a slight redesign of the patch and was so EXCITED to have found a local veteran-owned embroidery shop and we had JUST finalized the new patch when NC put in place a mandatory stay at home order.
It's funny... last week I was burning through books and this week I have slowed WAY down. I plan to startOn Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman today and have two more in queue. I'm increasingly interested in this topic and how it connects to the difficulty in transitioning from the military to civilian life.
Just a friendly reminder to remember to keep in contact with your buddies during these uncertain times. Whether it be isolation or anxiety due to the news, make sure they know they aren’t alone. Be a beacon of hope and courage and set the example for those around you. I feel the need to caveat this with the fact that I am not a medical or mental health professional, but isolation can often times exacerbate underlying anxiety or feelings of depression and separation. Give them a call, a text, FaceTime, or Facebook video chat. I don’t really care, just check in and be a good friend and human.