Expanding Awareness

Canada this week (May 4-10, 2015) recognizes mental health as part of Mental Health week #getloud. This week has a place on the calendar every year just as the United States has mental health awareness week. The U.S. also has May designated as Mental Heath Month  #MHMonth2015.

Thanks to advice from a friend who suggested that I connect with Tweeters that relate to the book and my cause. I started doing this in the U.S. and Canada since everyone everywhere deals with mental health issues and needs to create awareness on suicide prevention. Last night, I received a notification on my smartphone about tweets regarding mental health week in Canada. I chose to browse the tweets and I found one from a Tweeter that also started following me: Wellness Mindfulness @911well

Instantly, I knew I had to favorite and retweet this message and I chose to add a message: ” Let’s talk about suicide! Stigma surrounds it & we need to break it!

Not only did I choose to share this on Twitter, but also on my facebook page and the walls for the Milwaukee Out of the Darkness walk facebook page and my own event page for the walk.

I didn’t know that the retweet would receive such a positive response. Besides the followers I have the hashtags reached further. Hashtags, universally used, may relate to programs, events, life, and anything you can think of and they’re reused over and over. I chose #suicideprevention because it’s something I believe in. I chose #MentalHealthWeek because that’s what’s happening in Canada this week. I’m thankful that through technology people reach across states, countries, borders, continents…across the world…to share messages. I expanded awareness to many people in another country. To reach out to those in need for hope and promise expands knowledge and knowledge helps prevent and cure illnesses, dis-ease, and innocent lives from being lost to the completion of suicide. I feel blessed to have received the opportunity to change lives.

#breakthestigma #suicideprevention #mentalhealth

Reaching 100!

It’s been over a year since That’s All I Got! became reality. Since then 175 books have been in my personal inventory waiting for good homes to readers to inspire and educate. For a long time, 99 books have waited for 1 more to join them out into the world. That day arrived. On May 1, 2015, book #100 found a home!

It took a lot of time and effort to reach this milestone and I began to think it wouldn’t arrive. Here’s proof that patience does pay off. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible and to those who help share the message the book holds.

There’s too many innocent lives lost to the completion of suicide every year due to mental illness. There’s too many stories that need telling to help prevent another life lost and to educate others about mental illness and suicide. I’m surprised how many people have had their lives touched in some way due to a suicide loss. Just today, I listened as someone shared the story of another life lost to suicide, and this person asked questions that most people don’t due to the stigma still surrounding suicide. Help break this stigma-speak the story/journey-help others-share the message.

One Year Ago…

On March 28, 2014, I obtained the first copies and the first order of That’s All I Got! from my publisher. With life bustling around me, I almost forgot the one year anniversary of becoming a published author. A definite milestone in the publishing world. I’m two copies away from personally selling 100 books (I have a home inventory that’s yearning to dwindle).

In the past year, I’ve traveled locally for many book events and one event out-of-state near my college alma mater, Ferris State University. It’s been quiet for a while now, but since spring has arrived, new life and energy grows branches leading me to new possibilities.

Voss front cover

Saying goodbye to save a life

Today, March 1st, has been emotionally charged as we said goodbye and bid peace to someone whose life ended too soon from the completion of suicide. He suffered from his own demons, which included depression. I know this story too well, our neighborhood grieves again. In December 2008, the neighborhood grieved the first time after my husband, Russ, passed away from the completion of suicide as a result of mental illness: bipolar and auditory hallucination, which associates with schizophrenia.

My neighbor, Michael, passed away on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 as a result of a gunshot after dealing with troubling times in life. His life has me reflecting back to the date and time of Russ’s death and how far I’ve come since. I not only survived, but I thrived.

As I sat during the funeral, I pictured Russ and now Michael Goetzinger in Heaven sitting in the yard and talking. They’re both released from their pain and looking down on their families and friends giving encouragement and making sure we’re all healing and moving forward. One of the songs played at the service, Wideness in God’s Mercy, hit home because it played at Russ’s funeral six years ago. Even in death we’re all connected.

The service composed of music, readings, and poems that found their place into people’s souls. From the poems, The Journey by Mary Oliver and The Farewell by Khalil Gibran, to music of Landslide by Fleetwood Mac, Everything’s Not Lost by Coldplay and If You Lead Me Lord I Will Follow, and an anointing of essential oils to aid in healing and hope created voices in song, hugs in hundreds, and tears of sorrow.

I’m thankful to all the neighbors who came together to support each other and for making sure that I’m doing alright and offering lots of hugs. Connected by love, connected by sorrow, all of us have a brighter tomorrow. Rest in Peace Michael and to all of people who have lost their lives to the completion of suicide.

Once again we’re reminded that suicide’s real and we must break the stigma that surrounds it. If you’re contemplating suicide, preventing suicide or support others, please see: AFSP.

If you are in crisis, please call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
With your help, we can all save lives.

How procrastination worked…once

Saturday, January 31, 2015 started out like any other Saturday. I lounged around, waiting for my magical self to work on chores, run errands, and have one last workout at the South Shore Y. I dawdled like no one else can. Sure, a couple of things got done like chatting with friends, watching TV, tossing in a load of laundry, and cruising the couch. Finally, I decided to finish getting ready and get a move on because the time for the SSY to close its doors and the whirlpool to close even earlier crept closer.

Before I left, I checked the mailbox even though it seemed too early for the Saturday mail to arrive. Bad thought on my end because they mail had arrived including my newest royalty check. I thought, great I can take this to the bank since it’s open until 4pm. First, I made a copy of it (for keepsake purposes since it closed out 2014) and headed out. I didn’t know what lay ahead.

Most people don’t realize the afternoon hours of the bank on Saturday and yet today the line inside wove. I waited and when my turn arrived I mentioned about depositing my royalty check. Now most tellers and bankers there know I’m an author and a couple go on to ask how sales are. I tell them. So today, my teller expressed her congrats, but the best part wasn’t expected. As I left the bank talking to someone who I hadn’t seen there before, I told her how everyone knows about my book and told her the details. I didn’t realize I had been talking to the District Manager who accepted my business card and said she’d have to look it up. I thanked her before we went separate ways.

Now who knew procrastinating would have a reward.

THRIVE!

Thrive! Thrive! Thrive! Thriver! Thriving! Thrival!

What amazing words revealing a deep concept! And yet the words have only recently revealed their shine and impact in the world.

I’ve been using the words for a good length of time now thanks to a friend who showed me the wrong way of using the word “survivor”. After the tragic loss of my husband, I became informed that I was a survivor (of suicide), but when I shared this on an Authentic Self~Kosmic Consciousness retreat, a new friend said something that it makes me sound like a survivor of cancer–that I survived it. This had me thinking that she’s right, it did sound that way. I came out alive from a tragic loss, but I wasn’t the victim, I didn’t merely survive, I thrived as a result. Since then, I’ve noticed thrive in so many places. I even used the word “Thrival” in the subtitle of my book and submitted the word with definition to the Merriam Webster online dictionary and they posted it!

thrival:
(noun): the state of thriving

Submitted by: Karen E Voss from Wisconsin on Apr. 15, 2014 16:21

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According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, thrive means:

Definition: thrive

intransitive verb \ˈthrīv\ : to grow or develop successfully : to flourish or succeed

Full Definition of THRIVE

1:  to grow vigorously :  flourish

2:  to gain in wealth or possessions :  prosper

3:  to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances —often used with on <thrives on conflict>.

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In 2014, I started listening more to a contemporary christian radio station, K-LOVE. At the time, I required music to connect me spiritually and to keep me balanced. They played a song titled Thrive by Casting Crowns. I immediately connected to the song and downloaded the song from Amazon.com. Liking the song so much, I created my own Thrive radio station on iHeart Radio, which not only plays the song, but other songs by Casting Crowns, and other related Christian music. This station calms my mind, any stress at work, and for when I need to reflect. I found out a short time later, Casting Crowns has a CD called Thrive and so I placed it on my Christmas wish list (my older brother bought it for me). Not only did I receive the CD, but the CD contained a Thrive poster.

100_4773 100_4774

A visit to the Milwaukee Public Library Bay View location to pick up a requested book led me to browsing other selections. I discovered a book titled Thrive by Ariana Huffington. I couldn’t resist picking it up and taking it home. The book has a subline of “The third metric to redefining success and creating a life of well=being, wisdom, and wonder”.  I had no clue what the Third Metric entailed so google revealed the book website with the following:

“WHAT IS THE THIRD METRIC?

When you stop … if you ever do…you sense something isn’t quite right. You have a long list of accomplishments that bring great satisfaction – deals, causes, and outcomes that are better because you poured your heart into them. Yet you’ve been giving and giving to every other good endeavor but yourself. You’re depleted. There’s no rest. There’s no respite. There’s no end. It doesn’t have to be that way. You CAN redefine your life to include a Third Metric — your well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.”

The book shows great guidance and insight revealing how we can thrive in our daily lives:

“We have, if we’re lucky, about thirty thousand days to play the game of life. How we play it will be determined by what we value. If we worship money, we’ll never feel truly abundant. If we worship power, recognition, and fame, we’ll never feel we have enough. And if we live our lives madly rushing around, trying to find and save time, we’ll always find ourselves living in a time famine, frazzled and stressed.

While the world provides plenty of insistent, flashing, high-volume signals directing us to make more money and climb higher the ladder, there are almost no wordly signals reminding us to stay connected to the essence of who we are, to take care of ourselves along the way, to reach out to others, to pause to wonder, and to connect to that place from which everything is possible. To quote my Greek compatriot Archimedes: ‘Give me a place to stand, and I will move the world.’

So find your place to stand—your place of wisdom and peace and strength. And from that place, remake the world in your own image, according to your own definition of success, so that all of us++women and men—can thrive and live our lives with more grace, more joy, more compassion, more gratitude, and yes, more love. Onward, upward, and inward!” –from Thrive by Ariana Huffington

The world around us continues to thrive, but it’s what you do with your ability to thrive that can change the world. I read an article by Gregory Ramsey and he states, “change your way of thinking and you can change your world”. He’s absolutely right! The way we think leads us to the choices we make in life for ourselves and for the lives of everyone around us. I could have chosen to just survive, making my way through the muck left over from my husbands completion of suicide, but I chose and live to thrive! It’s my job now to help others and that creates an impact on people’s lives.

What will you choose…survive or thrive?

“I do not consider myself a survivor anymore, but rather a “thriver”, a warrior moving forward after tragedy.” -K.E.Voss

“We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive”
-Thrive, Casting Crowns

Reaching Alumni!

Since the year 2000, I have received the Ferris Magazine. It’s a magazine for alumni who graduated from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Printing Management from there. I have been working on getting a class note placed in the magazine with the announcement that I published or “authored” a book.

After waiting many months, I arrived home from work today with the printed copy of the Fall 2014 edition in my mailbox. I immediately jumped online to see if the electronic version got posted. Sure enough.

The magazine reaches 90,000+ alumni, which means my class note could reach 90,000+ people! That’s nuts and cool at the same time!

2014-11-12 19.31.50

Here’s the link to the full-page class notes posting:
http://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/alumni/ferrismagazine/archive/2014-fall/#44