It was a gloomy, rainy morning; not only reflected in the skies, but in my mood. It was cold and wet outside, but I needed to run. I chose music that told me to be confident in my foundations—who I am, my mission, my relationships—but I didn’t believe it.
I’d been doing familiar battle within my mind for several weeks, and frankly, I was getting my butt kicked. This morning was another round… Discouragement. Jealousy. Voices that told me I was a failure. A fool. That others were much better at what I am trying to do. And everyone would know—it was only a matter of time before I’d fail.
One part of my brain said, “Don’t listen! This isn’t true!” The other part of my brain laughed. Back and forth. Again. Again. Aga—
The music stopped and the ringtone took over. I saw the name, and felt a tinge of hope, and then sighed—a colleague from the other side of the country. But answer? No, you’re a raw mess, let it—
The next several moments time stood still. I stopped running. I listened. I could barely speak. I stood under the trees by the winter ponds, letting him speak truth and life and encouragement into my soul.
I had a powerful ally who first understood my battle, then began to wield the sword on my behalf. Slashing at the lies that surrounded me. Failure? Hardly. Fool? BEGONE! I confessed my jealousy to him. He understood. He reasoned with me, spoke life and possibility into my wounds and fatigue. Discouragement—my age-old enemy—lost its foothold as Jim spoke courage into my life, and then began to pray…
When he said amen, I realized I had fallen to my knees at some point. But as I hung up, I realized I felt lighter getting up. The gloominess of the day seemed a bit brighter. I practically sprinted the rest of the way home.
There is a battle for our minds.
I can’t do this…
I hate my circumstances…
so many are against me…
I don’t need anyone…No one gets me…No one understands…
I am so attracted to someone other than my spouse…
I’m so done…
I’ve fallen out of love…
I can’t do this…
I hurt so much I don’t want to live anymore…
These thoughts are weapons that slash at our well-being, shoot out the foundations beneath us, blast our minds into confusion, penetrate chaos into our souls and ultimately destroy not only us, but those around us.
Good news, salvation, positivity, confidence, light, and moral choices versus toxic thoughts, negativity, discouragement, darkness, and destructive choices—God and evil fight constantly for the prize of our minds. He who rules the thoughts, directs the actions. Permeate the mind with darkness, and the eye won’t be able to see. If we can’t see clearly because we’re not thinking clearly, our paths will lead to discouragement, despondency, danger, despair, and unless there is intervention, utter destruction.
How do we defend ourselves?
We realize that isolation is a breeding ground for a cesspool of decline. We need other perspectives that will counter our dark thoughts.
We allow allies to speak into our lives who will counter toxic thought processes. Who will swing the Sword of Truth on our behalf. Answer. The. Phone.
We allow allies to kick us in the butt when we’re choosing to follow paths of destruction; to keep us accountable to the oaths we have taken.
We listen to the encouragement of an ally who sees our motivations, our failures, our potential, and isn’t susceptible to the lying voices of doubt.
We need beacons of light to shine in the dark places of our minds.
We need comrades who will take up arms and fight for us.
And when we have reinforcements, we, too, can take up the shield and sword, fighting alongside others.
Therein lies the victory.
So answer the phone!
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" April 2nd, 2019
Posted In: Uncategorized
Since this time last year (May 2012), I’ve been working on a book called Selfish Prayer. I am the ghostwriter, which means that I write another person’s story. That someone else is a member of the California National Guard, and served in Afghanistan in 2009 as a Medevac flight medic.
It’s been quite an education.
Previously my knowledge of the Armed Forces came from stories from my grandfather, a WWII veteran, a few conversations with my brother who fought in Panama in 1989, and the brief journey we endured with my son who went to Marine boot camp and came home early because of a medical discharge. I, like so many other Americans, hold a special place in my heart for the men and women who serve in the military. They have my respect, my support, and my gratitude.
But when a retired California Highway Patrolman who worked for my husband approached me about writing his story, I had no idea what lay in store.
My first exposure was to attend a speaking engagement to hear my client’s story. Wow – he recounted how he was lowered down from a helicopter in the midst of a fierce firefight to retrieve five wounded soldiers the age of his son and all those who were involved survived. He then loaded me up with newspaper clippings, magazines, pictures, and video that I spent the next year reviewing.
We conducted interviews with medics, crew chiefs, pilots, and doctors, flying to the southern states and driving countless miles on the west coast to hear their stories face to face.
I looked into their eyes and heard the inflections in their voices. Anger. Hurt. Bravery. Camaraderie. Love.
At times I had to swallow the lump in my throat, and other times I couldn’t hold back my tears as most of them wept as they shared their memories. They gave me pictures, camera footage, raw recollections, and felt comfortable enough to speak freely, sometimes taking me aback.
Since then, I’ve gained a new and deeper appreciation for those who’ve been to battle. Because once they got on that plane and headed to the war-torn fields of Iraq and Afghanistan, the war embedded itself into their souls. There were horrors to witness. There was blood shed by brothers they loved. There were injuries and deaths and decisions and injustice and boredom and shock and smells and sounds and hate and ego and misunderstandings. And it was packed into a year or so and that year will never leave them. It is permanently etched into the fabric of their being.
When they get on the plane to come back to US soil, they bring the war back to us here at home. They try not to. They try to keep it hidden in some compartmentalized nightmare within their minds. But it’s left an indelible mark upon their souls, and it permeates their personalities and separates them from those who love them. I pray we have the courage to bridge that separation that naturally occurs.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day, where we remember those who’ve fallen on the battlegrounds of wars past and present. Their blood was spilled for our freedom. We are grateful for their sacrifice.
This Memorial Day I am also mourning the losses of those whose hearts did not stop beating, but have lost just the same. There are many who lost limbs, lost recognition from burns, lost brothers they loved, and still more who lost their marriages, lost mental, emotional, and spiritual footing, and in many cases, left pieces of their souls on the battlefield. Those of us who are carrying on with life in safety and security seriously do not have a clue as to the sacrifices and loss they have experienced.
As for me, I’ve heard soldiers cry. I’ve shared the memories that dance just behind the darkness in their eyes. I know that when I wake up in the night, there are thousands of veterans who are reliving their war in their dreams in homes across America.
Veterans, alive and gone, it isn’t enough to say thank you. I acknowledge your sacrifice, and I pray for your healing, and for all that you’ve done (even the unimaginable), I am grateful for you.
Selfish Prayer: How California National Guard Changed the Face of Medevac Amidst Chaos, Carnage and Politics of War was released in August 2013. It is available for purchase via Amazon.com and is available in paperback and Ebook.
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" May 31st, 2016
Posted In: Uncategorized
Fifteen months ago I stood on the bank of a rushing river, hesitant to jump in. This was a metaphoric river in my mind—knowing that once I jumped in, it would be one wild ride. I would be at the mercy of the river, letting it carry me wherever it led.
I gathered some courage and jumped in with both feet. The current of adventure, tragedy, difficulties, and many obstacles threatened to drown me. But as of today, I have emerged victorious.
This wild and rushing river was the journey of writing A Marriage in Progress – Tactical Support for Law Enforcement Relationships, the companion book to A CHiP on my Shoulder, and written for officers.
When getting a book ready for publication, there is a grueling process the author goes through. Pinpointing exactly what to say, how to say it, and then putting small parts into a larger readable, engaging experience takes thought and perseverance. The journey determines the outcome. A Marriage in Progress went through this process, but faced obstacles at every phase. Frankly, there was a battle for every single word.
I had the outline and title early 2014. By August I was ready to write. I put together a survey and in one week, over 900 police officers, spouses, and dispatchers responded. I read every single response, and followed up with many of those who gave their contact information. I held dinners for police officers to ask them questions. I met with officers, therapists, and spouses, read many books, and discussed issues with others. I scoured the Internet for articles and blogs and information, and kept an eye and ear open at all times for content.
During this journey I fought health issues, a difficult season of my husband’s career, a family crisis, a national cop hate campaign, a tragic incident that stunned our Sacramento region, and issues with my publisher. Family members underwent several trials, and both of my daughters moved out of the house. My grandparents passed away, and I performed both ceremonies. But all of these issues made the book even better.
At every turn, the voice of doubt was whispering: I can’t do this. Will anyone actually read it? Is this any good? There were many who kept me going with their encouragement. My Bible, treadmill and positive music dealt with my stress – some mornings I ran and cried at the same time.
And then Chief began the meticulous process of going through it page by page. It was tedious but necessary. This was the makeover that brought the book up to where it needed to be. I dismantled two chapters that were a mess and added another, and went back and did more research. I took every piece of constructive criticism he gave and incorporated all of it—I even thanked him for tearing it apart! A real victory for this stubborn girl.
What has emerged has me absolutely ecstatic. The comments received from readers have given me encouragement and confidence. Chief, after reading the suicide chapter said, “This chapter will save lives…” I burst into tears. The foreword, written by a respected leader in law enforcement, makes some very bold claims that left me speechless.
A Marriage in Progress is crammed full of information, tools, perspectives, and encouragement. It is the companion book to A CHiP on my Shoulder, but includes more that I’ve gleaned since 2011. I address law enforcement relationships through police culture and concepts, making parallels from who they are as officers to who they are at home. It addresses communication, conflict resolution, parenting, spouses, ways to combat hypervigilance, soul wounds, and finances. It gives vision for marriage, hope for restoration, and addresses boundaries, sex, and trust. It includes a section for leaders and a section for comic relief when the reader needs a break. At the end of every chapter are some thoughts to contemplate, ideas to discuss with spouses, and suggestions for strategic application. Lastly, the 12-page Resource Guide lists many books, programs, organizations, and information that help the law enforcement family. I didn’t find everything out there, so my website will be updated regularly to include new resources.
Spouses will love this book. Officers will be challenged in a supportive way. Family members will finally get it. Chaplains and therapists will glean insight. And my ultimate hope is that relationships will thrive, lives will be changed, and marriages last.
If you would like to order A Marriage in Progress, it is available now on Amazon.com at: http://www.amazon.com/Marriage-Progress-Tactical-Enforcement-Relationships/dp/1508921652/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449771094&sr=8-1&keywords=a+marriage+in+progress.
The Kindle version will follow shortly.
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" December 10th, 2015
Posted In: Uncategorized
Finding My Words Again
I haven’t blogged since December. I’ve been scarce on Facebook for months. My calendar has had only a few speaking engagements.
Sometimes life is so overwhelming there are no words.
My life has been like that for the past year.
I’ve struggled to find words of encouragement in this time of cop hate, low morale, and the division between Americans. Although I read other people’s remarks, I have to confess that although some little tidbits have let me laugh or think, the rest have left me feeling pretty bleak.
Chief and I have had a very hard year. Probably our most difficult yet. Since July 2014 we’ve been under a blanket of trial; layers of thick and thin adversities that tucked us into a bed of suffering emotionally, physically, relationally, mentally, professionally, and spiritually.
I’ll spare you the details.
We walked through one day at a time, sometimes individually, sometimes together. There were days we couldn’t even speak.
One by one, the layers sorted out. Some circumstances changed; others we made peace with. Little by little burdens lifted, and the confusion has subsided.
On Thursday, Chief and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. Because of what we’ve been through it was not only a celebration because that’s what you do on anniversaries; it was a celebration of our friendship. We walked together through many things—and emerged closer than ever. And we’re profoundly grateful.
Just before our dinner date, Brent stopped by the florist to pick up some flowers. As the florist worked on my bouquet, they chatted about the sweetness of a long life together. He said to her, “You know that look an old couple have when they gaze at each other? They don’t have that look because their lives were happy all the time and easy. They have that look because they went through hell together, and made it through.”
I know that there are many of you who’ve been through hell this year. I’ve heard from some of you. I know that this winter season in the Blue Line Family has been long, and doesn’t show signs of letting up soon. But you and your spouse can weather this storm.
In the next weeks, I will share some key things that Chief and I learned this past year that may be helpful for you individually and as a couple.
Oh, one more thing. After our dinner date Thursday, I wanted us to take a selfie so I could put it on our page. What followed was a giggle fest that developed into all out belly laughs. I’ve included it here—as a visual aid to show you that no matter what you go through, you can still return to joy.
Stay tuned for my next post: “You Can Handle More Than You Think.”
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" June 8th, 2015
Posted In: Uncategorized
It was dark when I went out to fetch the mail last night. I thumbed through the mail as I walked, straining to see by the dimly lit houses.
One envelope caught my eye.
It was a small card, made out to my author name, no return address.
The postmark was from St. Louis, Missouri.
My first thought was to wonder if this was my first hate mail. Seriously…
I quickly opened it to find a thank you card. For my support. Said it was greatly appreciated.
The name that followed caught my breath.
A name I wouldn’t have recognized before this summer.
A name that is hated among some. A name defended by others.
A name I have thought of every day since August, and have said prayers on his behalf.
He said my support is greatly appreciated.
And my answer to that is the feeling is mutual.
Because frankly, it isn’t about him anymore. It’s about us. The Thin Blue Line.
He’s the mascot. The martyr. The maligned.
I have wondered how he’s been getting through this. I’ve wondered about his wife. I’ve wondered if he’s afraid, or embarrassed, or hurt.
And right here, in my hand, I realize how he’s surviving.
In spite of the madness, he’s thankful.
And so should we.
He’s choosing to send a word to those who’ve supported him.
So should we.
He’s choosing to look at what he can control, not what he can’t.
A lesson we can take and follow.
We need to be encouraged by those from all walks of life that do appreciate peace officers.
We need to encourage each other, too.
Slowly but surely, I’m hearing civilians ask, “Do these people really want to take away the powers of the police? Do they understand what will happen if the police don’t respond to their neighborhoods? I sure don’t want that.”
They know that peace just doesn’t produce naturally.
They acknowledge their need for peace officers. They’re thankful, too.
There are people who are listening to the facts and deciding that this is madness. There are those who are seeing the violence on TV and tire of the temper tantrums, especially when the evidence in this case doesn’t support the claim.
We’ve got to walk through this, my friends. It hurts, but there’s no way around it.
Our emotions are high, our fears are valid, and our security shaken.
We need each other now more than ever.
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" December 9th, 2014
Posted In: Uncategorized
It happened five years ago today in a remote village in Afghanistan.
An ambush. A battle. Bad decisions. And 11 Americans and many Afghan nationals were forced to hunker down and fight for survival in what is called simply by its village name: Ganjgal.
That one word conjures up pain in the hearts of those who were there, and their families. At the end of the day, three Marines, a Navy corpsman, and eleven Afghan coalition fighters had given their lives, and a month later an Army soldier died of complications from wounds suffered on the battlefield.
It was a day of heroics, and a day where leaders failed. Communication broke down, and men were denied the support they needed to survive. It was a day that raped the souls of several great men, some who are still reeling from its effects.
I learned of this battle about two years ago while sitting in my office, listening to an interview on tape. I heard the tearful story as a pilot recollected that day. What he said gripped my heart – “I can still hear the voices of those Marines crying out. They visit me night after night.” And then, a long pause.
I stopped the tape, went to the computer, and after reading about it, knew immediately this story had to be told.
Thus begun my personal connection to the battle of Ganjgal.
The following months I researched, read other men’s accounts, and grew puzzled as things didn’t add up. My co-author, Emmett, wrestled with the idea of including this chapter in our book (Selfish Prayer) because it had become so cumbersome. I suggested we interview one more medic who was there. To our surprise, he lived nearby.
That interview changed everything.
It was also the one that hit me hardest.
I had seen pictures of this guy when he was in Afghanistan. He was huge, handsome, fearless. Who I saw in person a few years later was someone who was broken – a man damaged by post-traumatic stress disorder. I barely recognized him. And the battle of Ganjgal was his nemesis.
I had to process my thoughts and emotion for the next few days.
During that interview he mentioned that he had camera footage of this battle. As we watched, we couldn’t help but marvel of what unfolded before us. We took a copy with us.
The next couple weeks were a blur. Emmett contacted the man who was portrayed in the video – a soldier whose career had ended because of Ganjgal, and whose nomination for the Medal of Honor had been illusive. He’d spent much of his time near Seattle in solitude and anonymity since leaving the army. Once we found him, Emmett offered him the video, and invited him to come to Sacramento.
To our surprise, he accepted. We brought him to the CHP Academy along with several of the Medevac guys who had been at the battlefield, gave them a several hour tour, and bought them lunch. It was a perfect beginning to a weekend of debrief. Over the course of the weekend, the men talked about the battle of Ganjgal, each giving their recollections, watching the videos (a second one surfaced as well), and clarifying facts.
It was technically a critical incident debrief, three and a half years after the fact.
Even after several years, this weekend brought clarity and healing to the memories that plagued these men.
The soldier on the video returned home with renewed purpose and vigor. Those close to him said that something changed within him. He himself commented publicly that the video contained truth he thought had been lost.
Within seven months, that soldier, Captain William Swenson, was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama at the White House. Chief and I, along with several of the Medevac guys, were there in person to witness it.
The video is the only known footage of a MOH recipient’s heroism in action. It has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people via television and YouTube.
As I look back to a day of blood, sacrifice, and death, I mourn for those who lost their lives. I now wear a black band on my right wrist given to me by a widow to remind me of them, and to pray for their families.
I also saw with my own eyes the power of critical incident debriefing. In this instance, there was no chaplain or counselor present, just those who were affected. They shared meals, and stories, bonding activities, and then bravely entered back into that battle together. They were comforted by truth, and banded together like brothers, sharing pain and memories and the consequences.
And although it didn’t heal all wounds, it did much good. It provided clarity for some, peace for others, and in Swenson’s case, brought him back to the army with an MOH around his neck, a voice of change within the ranks, and a new purpose.
THAT is why I do what I do.
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" September 8th, 2014
Posted In: Uncategorized
How to Love Your Cop Through Hate
Yesterday I asked Chief about the general feelings of the troops in light of the movement of hatred toward police officers brought to the forefront in the Michael Brown shooting.
“Just another day on the streets,” he replied.
When I answered with a quizzical look, he reminded me that California is no stranger to this attitude.
He reminded me that as a new cop on the streets of Los Angeles 26 years ago, there was a warning that Bloods and Cripps had declared war on the police, and had shot at police from overpasses several times. My own husband was shot at while he was assisting a pregnant woman in labor who’d been accosted. He’d been part of the Rodney King riots in 1992. We have problems in Oakland as well as LA on a regular basis. And last year, when Dorner went on a killing spree (killing police officers and their family members), social media blew up in support of his murderous rampage.
So, as spouses and families, how do we respond?
For officers, it may just be another day on the streets, but for you and me it’s different.
It pisses us off to hear sweeping judgmental comments about men and women in blue. We know firsthand how much abuse they take, how scrutinized they are, how quick people are to blame cops for their own mistakes, and we experience everyday the lack of sleep and constant stress. We live in it.
And we make sacrifices, too.
Because we know and love who they are underneath that uniform.
We know that the things chanted in the streets are rarely supported by evidence. Because we live with them, breathe the same air, watch them be tender with our children.
So, in light of this, I’ve come up with a list of seven “keeps” of how we can love and support our spouses.
For starters, a “keep” was a type of fortified tower built within castles during the Middle Ages by European nobility. It was a fortified residence, used as a refuge of last resort should the rest of the castle fall to an adversary.
Kind of like our homes today. By keeping in mind the things I’ve listed below, we can actually fortify our homes, and our officers.
Keep Your Head
There will be anger. There will be fear. There will be injustice. There will be misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Even by people who are close to you. But understand that they are not thinking specifically of your spouse when they spew out their rants. They are rebelling against AUTHORITY. I’ll expand on this in my next post, but for the time being, we gotta keep it together, just like our husbands have to. Take your frustration and anger to a trusted place (closed support groups on Facebook, friends you trust, family members who are supportive of your marriage and mission), and delete police haters from your Facebook. We don’t need to feed our minds with it. In the heat of the battle, they aren’t listening anyway.
Talk out your fears with your officer. Listen to his frustrations. Then keep it between you. Communication is toughest in crises, mainly because we’re all trying to figure out how we feel, think, and respond amidst inflamed emotions. But our officers need a safe place, as do we.
Also keep in mind that when police are scrutinized and the public demands answers, our leaders are thrown into a delicate balance of accountability to the people and impartiality to their own. It’s a very difficult place to be in, and many are just not equipped to handle it well. In these cases, trust can disappear in a moment, between the public and the department, and the leadership and the troops.
Many times you are the only sounding board your officer can trust.
Keep the Peace
People are vicious in groups. There are some peaceful protestors who have legitimate complaints based on fact or misunderstanding. Then there are anarchists who will inflame crowds with misinformation or disturbance. And then there are those who are attracted to the stink and take advantage by vandalizing or looting. Whoever they are, they have no idea the sacrifices a police officer and his family make, and frankly don’t care. Sometimes an officer will fail and have it coming.
As spouses, we want to choose their side, shout to the world, educate people, have them see the truth. These attacks aren’t necessarily personal (except for the officer in the hot seat, and they are actually considered a representation of all cops). The issue is the uniform and what it represents. It feels personal to us, though. We have a right to our feelings, but we need to keep above stooping to their level. Many times its wise to just walk away.
Keep Eyes Open
When we are alert, listening, and learning, we have the ability to offer tidbits of wisdom to our officers in appropriate moments. We have intuition, and we have a different perspective. And vice versa.
We also need to be vigilant in protecting our homes and our children. Be aware of your surroundings, wear your police T-shirts in appropriate places, and put the uniforms in the trunk when you pick up the dry cleaning. We are proud of the fact that our spouses are officers, but not everyone shares the love. Our officers already know this and that’s the reason they want to live quiet lives that don’t bring attention to their positions.
We have two ears, one mouth. And if patient, we can learn some things. About people. About ourselves. About the actual facts of an incident. We have the power to exercise wisdom. We have a responsibility to restrain ourselves, just like our officers. If we season our speech with humility and reason, it gets ’em every time.
Keep the Home Fires Burnin’
There is nothing better than a home that is clean, smells good, runs smoothly, and there’s food on the table. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had Chief come home and breathe a sigh of relief because the house is clean and dinner is ready. This also works for teenagers after a long day of school and sports. And as I write this, I look at my house and realize that this keep here is for ME.
Yep, God is interested in this. The Bible says that He puts those who are in authority into service to keep the peace (Romans 13). Police officers are actually servants of God Himself. I will write more about this in another post because its important we understand this. But for us, for now, we do help our spouses by talking to God about them. Pray for their stress, their wisdom, for their conduct, and of course, pray for their protection.
There are also those officers who become the lightning rod in these inflamed responses, and many times the facts are irrelevant or not reported until that officer is trashed and maligned. These guys and their families need our prayers as well.
And we can pray for ourselves, too. Over the years, I have dealt with anger, confusion, fear, and other emotions by going to the One who will always listen, always answer (although not always how I’d like), and who will love me no matter what.
Lastly, we need to pray for our enemies. For those who have taken on hatred based on non-truths and misunderstandings. They are hurting and lost and are looking to blame others for injustices. Those who destroy and riot and steal and even murder, yes, they most certainly need our prayers.
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" August 28th, 2014
Posted In: Uncategorized
My blog posts have been lacking lately.
As in nonexistent.
At first, when I realized that it was early spring that I last posted, I got a little nervous. “I’m losing momentum, my readers will miss my blog, I’ll lose followers!” But actually, the world has gone on without my little thoughts, and I had good reasons.
Sometimes life’s seasons bring different priorities.
I was busy being a wife and a mom.
I set aside my pen (laptop) for a time, and poured extra effort into my family and home.
My daughters both graduated – one from college, one from high school. One of their friends got married. My parents celebrated 50 years of marriage. My grandfather passed away. We’ve been getting to know our daughter-in-law. We had a couple intense parenting situations in there. We did some home improvements. We’ve also been helping our son in the application process to be a CHP dispatcher.
I don’t feel guilty.
Because sometimes I just can’t do it all. Some seasons just need to be focused on one thing: family.
I couldn’t authentically do what I do if I didn’t take some concentrated time for my family. I’d be a flaming hypocrite.
In a few days, Chief and I will be heading with two kids to a once-in-a-lifetime vacation in the Caribbean. I am looking forward to talking, relaxing, swimming, dreaming, and making memories with my husband and kids. More than you know.
After I return, I’ve got a full plate of work to get through. This hiatus of sorts has given me renewed vigor in my work with police families. There are still so many who muddle through this crisis-driven career and its affects on marriage and family. Too many divorces that take place when they really don’t need to. Too many miscommunications, chronic problems that can actually be resolved, and too many hurts that develop into bitterness.
This journey that started several years ago but came into being officially in September 2011, has taken me to places I could’ve not foreseen. I’ve learned so much. I’ve still so much to learn. And as I learn, its my priority to share it with other police families. I continue and will continue to create resources for warrior families, with a sense of duty and passion.
This fall will continue with more education. Next month I will start to finally get my next book onto paper. This next book will be for officers – the counterpart to A CHiP on my Shoulder. I will be looking for input, so watch for that. I’ll be doing interviews, focus groups and surveys. I’m also considering more formal education to help me understand even further the complexities of our physical make-up and the ways that the soul and spirit intertwine, and how relationships work.
I’ll also be conducting my seminar, Backup for the Home (also called Surviving Law Enforcement – A Spouse’s Perspective in California), as it continues to bring hope and interactive wisdom to police families. We’ve had really good feedback, and hope to develop it even further. If you are interested in having me present in your area, send me a message.
I’ll be back in a few weeks with more blog posts. In the meantime, I’m making memories with those I love the most…
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" July 17th, 2014
Posted In: Uncategorized
I didn’t think it could be done.
There are five love languages – Acts of Service, Physical Touch (Affection), Words of Affirmation, Gifts, and Quality Time. About 98% of the population give and show love through these five practices. And nobody’s ever really come up with another. And I think everyone’s been okay with that.
Until a few weeks ago.
“I don’t think my husband shows or feels love in these ways. There is a sixth love language.”
So, I have a friend who keeps me on my toes. I’ll call her Sarah. Sarah will come up with some thought-provoking ideas and she will come at me with her armor on, smirky smile, her piercing eyes and poke my brain. What about this? I think you should… And she’ll say something very profound… and then I am speechless for a few moments while I process an idea that didn’t come from within. And suddenly, I see the wisdom in it.
“Okay, Sarah, what is the sixth love language?”
I don’t remember what she called it, but she went on to describe a sort of sarcasm that isn’t designed to wound. It’s a way of communicating with a smirk and a twinkle that is affectionate. It’s a challenge to step into the ring and let’s tease each other until we’re friends.
Sound like anyone you know?
My thoughts went to my father-in-law (former cop) who communicates this way. If you can’t handle the verbal spar, he doesn’t respect you. My thoughts went to several co-workers of my husband, and a Vietnam Vet whom I dabbled in the ring with at a book function, and especially my co-author of Selfish Prayer – he is the champion of Verbal Spar.
I thought of the time I spoke to about 30 middle management police officers in Oakland last fall. Most people would feel uncomfortable talking to a group who sat in a U-shape, dressed in their uniforms with bars and stripes gleaming from the flourescent lights above. They sat stone-faced, wheels turning, some making a few notes as I spoke about what I offer police marriages. I spoke in my normal encouraging way, speaking passionately about my cause. And then, one asked the question: “Got anything in that book of yours that deals with cops that want to sleep with married cops? Cause that’s what I’m dealing with right now.”
Here we go.
I went on to mention that yes, I do mention this briefly in my book, and then said something like, “That’s why I do what I do. It may be kind of Pollyanna, but perhaps if we can strengthen marriages, you won’t have to deal with it on duty.”
They weren’t convinced. So I switched to Verbal Spar – what I recognize now to be the sixth love language.
“Look, we do what we can, but sometimes shit happens…”
The entire room erupted into laughter.
I was suddenly one of the club.
Believe it or not, I felt trusted. I’d made the connection.
Not by speaking my language, but theirs.
So, I’m declaring that there is a sixth love language. It is a language of love and trust spoken by men and women who deal with the painful realities of our world – cops, military, search and rescue, firemen, medical personnel. Probably others, too.
Verbal Sparring is a tough language to speak because it dances close to uncomfortable. And sometimes Verbal Sparring draws blood. I wondered for a few weeks if I should even write about this because I had to ask myself if it was actually a language of love. My conclusion is, absolutely. It is a different way of loving and communicating love that is safe within the life that demands we toughen up and deal with the crap flying around us.
So when I was apologizing for not giving appropriate heads up on something, I declared that I was “so lame!”. Sarah’s comment was, “You are lame!”
I felt so loved.
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" March 14th, 2014
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I absolutely LOVE my new Peer Group. There are eleven of us wives from six different departments around the NorCal area. We’ve met twice now and the camaraderie is already there.
I’d like to see other groups like this – to experience the friendship with other LEOWs, and to really have that support. So I’ve come up with some ways to help those of you who want to start something but aren’t sure just how to do it.
As I was preparing to do this, I just started mentioning it to people. Those who were enthusiastic, I followed up with. Most of the girls moved their schedule around or got babysitters. We have eleven, but it doesn’t have to be that big. I also thought it important to have different departments – when it is just one department that all the ladies are from, it is a huge temptation to talk about the office politics, and that can ruin a group and/or diminish the departmental support of families. You can put an announcement out on Facebook, or ask your friends to invite someone else. Compiling a diverse group of ladies is half the fun!
For my book, I scheduled 13 consecutive weeks. One week for introductions and twelve for the chapters. I put them on the calendar, and communicated this to the ladies I invited. They know that we are meeting every week at such and such a time, at such and such a place, until April 9.
The first week we shared about our families, and then I had them find an object in their purse that describes them. That helps get answers from people you normally wouldn’t get, and we heard some cool perspectives about what people’s lives are about. We also talked about what we were hoping to “get” from the group. The second week we started in on the book. We read through a chapter a week together. The questions are in the back of each chapter. Easy!
The first meeting I talked about boundaries. This is IMPERATIVE. To create a safe place for women to share, there must be confidentiality. NO flapping of the gums about what people say. I also told them to keep it positive. We are not a rant and rave group – that’s not helpful for anyone. We also do not talk about department politics UNLESS it directly and personally affects your family and we can help support you. We also talked about the fact that we are all different and have different views. The rule is to approach each other with grace – so that all of us can be free to be who we are and still be loved.
A few other things are group dates with our guys, ladies’ nites out, and a secret Facebook page. We exchanged numbers. We hold each others’ babies. We talked about doing a Dave Ramsey class together later on. So far, so good.
I’ve no doubt as we get into things that there will be disagreement. And we’re okay with that. But we agreed to stay within the boundaries of the rules, and are actually happy with them. As the leader, I will keep us accountable to it.
Lastly, as their leader, I’m praying for our time, and for their families. This is the unseen glue that keeps us together, I think. When a leader has “help” from God or an older mentor, someone to bounce off problems or ideas (keeping confidentiality intact, of course), that really enhances a group as well.
If you are interested in starting your own peer group in your area, please let me know so that I can pray/help you as well. We’re in this thing together!
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" January 27th, 2014
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