There is no happily ever after, just happily here and now…

There is no happily ever after, just happily here and now…

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
– Ferris Bueller

Where are your thoughts right now? Are you able to concentrate on the words you are
reading or are you ‘future tripping’, worrying about carpool rides for the kids, or maybe
you are wondering if you will be okay or be unprepared and awkward in tomorrow’s staff
meeting? Are you projecting into the future your thoughts and feelings only to arrive at
that time and place never truly ‘be there’, desperately attempting to figure out what may
or may not happen and how I will feel when I get there? This is the very definition of
anxiety. Living in speculation and expectation can lead towards resentment, not only
towards self but towards others and your outer world in general. Or are you remorseful
and resentful, regretting past decisions you have made? Should have, could have, would
have, living in the past, torturing yourself and listening to the lies you tell yourself until it
becomes a narrative that constructs who you are.

These states of being can keep us in victim mode, reacting to things emotionally as they
arise, taking things always personally. These speculative states can only lead to suffering,
and to what end? As our brain desperately attempts to map out the future so that we are
not surprised we become risk averse, stuck in a fight, flight or freeze mode. We are
unable to access higher regions of the brain and self and process our thoughts and
feelings effectively. Living in the past creates doubt and second-guessing, each should,
could and would is a total lie, we cannot change things in our past only learn from them.
We can work on staying in the only thing that truly is; the moment you are in.

Staying present, centered and aware can be challenging, but here are a few exercises to ground
you and bring you into your true reality.

You can first start by naming things in the room, I know it sounds silly but go ahead and do it now… what you are feeling is physically being in the time and place that you are in. When we have gotten good at that, we can continue to cycle through our senses; what we are hearing, tasting, smelling and feeling, literally coming into them… The sounds of the your neighborhood coming to life, the coffee from this morning, the cushions supporting our body as we sit. All of your senses come to life; you can be present to what is in front of you and around you, able to flow on into the next indicated thing.

 

Anxiety is living in the future, depression is living in the past.

The key to being okay is living in the here and now.

Pierce Geisendorff

Pierce Geisendorff

Pierce is finishing his Sophomore year of high school with plans to attend Cal Poly to study Engineering. He always asks how he can support our Marines in the ocean or any of us on the beach. He attends most of our Camp Pendleton session throughout the year and is able to do his service work with JMMF at each. You’ll find Pierce shredding his foamy or shortboard before every OT session, but with plenty of energy to assist our Athletes for hours afterward. We are lucky to have him!
Thank you Pierce!

Photo Cred: Timothy Reed Murphy

When does excitement present as anxiety?

What is your narrative? Do you speak to yourself with warmth, Love and kindness or is your internal voice, your narrative, critical, coming from a place of fear and scarcity? It is not your fault; you have evolution working against you, moving thoughts, naturally, towards the oldest part of you, the reptilian part of your brain where a ‘fight or flight’ mentality primarily originates. Fortunately, I am assuming, most of your needs are going to be met today; you will be able to find a food source, you will be sheltered from the elements and, hopefully, no one and no thing will try to kill you. So where does that ancient energy, the ‘fight of flight’ mentality go? Enter anxiety…

What if you are just excited? And the reptilian brain masks your excitement as anxiety? Travel anxiety is a great example of excitement that could possibly present as anxiety. When I am preparing for a trip I can feel somatic (of the body) responses the closer it gets to the time I am leaving. My body can react as if I am being chased by a lion, my ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in and the reptilian brain is activated. It produces hormones necessary to quicken my pulse (adrenaline), sends more blood to my muscles so I can react quickly (norepinephrine) and regulate other biological systems (cortisol) to focus on the systems necessary to aid in my get away. Of course I am not in any danger of being eaten by a lion and as soon as I feel my pulse start to quicken I can start a dialogue with self. I can consciously confront the fear and move towards understanding; how realistic is it that the plane will go down and I have been through crowded the airports before, am I really never going to see my luggage again? Or I can re-frame my thoughts in a more affirming direction; I am just excited to go on vacation, visit friends or family and experience new things. Truth be told anxious and excited somatic responses are totally identical.

Move toward rewiring your brain and telling yourself you are leading an exciting life, moving freely away from an anxious one.

Riding the waves to better health: Navy studies the therapeutic value of surfing.

Riding the waves to better health: Navy studies the therapeutic value of surfing.

Article From The Washington Post:

By Tony Perry March 10

In song and prose, surfing has long been celebrated as a way to soothe the mind and invigorate the body. But scientific evidence has been limited.

Now the Navy has embarked on a $1 million research project to determine whether surfing has therapeutic value, especially for military personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or sleep problems.

Researchers say surfing offers great promise as therapy. It is a challenging exercise in an outdoor environment; people surf individually or in groups; military surfers who are reluctant to attend traditional group therapy open up about their common experiences when talking to other surfers on the beach.

See Original Article at WashingtonPost.com

A surfing program by the Los Angeles-based Jimmy Miller Foundation brings instructors and psychologist Kevin Sousa to Camp Pendleton twice a month. Sousa follows service members with physical and mental injuries into the waves to offer surfing instruction and look for signs of emotional problems or distress. When the surfing session is over, he helps lead an informal group discussion on the beach.

“We believe we can heal each other one wave at a time,” said Kris Primacio, manager for ocean therapy at the foundation.

The foundation, along with VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, supported an early study of the therapeutic value of surfing. Led by occupational therapist Carly Rogers, the 2014 study found that surfing, coupled with individual counseling, group therapy, other exercise programs and medication, can help alleviate symptoms of psychological distress.

Jonathan Sherin, director of Los Angeles County’s mental health department, was a physician with VA during the Rogers study.

“Surfing exposes individuals to the awe of nature,” he said. “It’s good for a population that has turned inward from people and the outside world.”

On a recent sunny day, service members, many of them from the Wounded Warrior Battalion, assembled on the beach at Camp Pendleton to listen to instructors from the Jimmy Miller Foundation.

One of the surfers was Sgt. Maj. Brian Fogarty, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. While Fogarty surfed, his PTSD service dog Blade, a 2-year-old boxer, stayed on the beach and watched. Fogar­ty will retire soon and join the PTSD Foundation of America. He plans to sing the praises of surfing.

Meet Jonathan Rodil

Meet Jonathan Rodil

Jonathan credits his choice to become an Occupational Therapist on the JMMF Program. Jonathan has spent years volunteering with us at Camp Pendleton and Manhattan Beach. He has a contagious smile and a peaceful demeanor that puts our Athletes, Volunteers, and Staff at ease instantly. He genuinely shares his stoke for the ocean and surfing with anyone, and we’re so grateful to call this World Changer, a Family Member.

Photo by: Alex Postigo

Ocean Therapy improves attitudes towards self identity for Youth

Ocean Therapy improves attitudes towards self identity for Youth

Last summer, 74 youth participated in a unique Ocean Therapy research study to better understand the benefits of participation in our unique program. In terms of the process of Ocean Therapy, we asked the youth to draw a picture of their experience of the day and we trained volunteers to code the drawings.

We found that youth expressed: experiencing Opportunities for Learning and Fun (95%); a positive attitude about their Self-Identify or Self-Concept (90%); feeling Safe (64%); experienced Social Support and Inclusion (62%).

These findings suggest that the Ocean Therapy program processes are operating in the manner in which they were intended and the goals are being achieved.

In addition to the drawings, we had participants complete a children’s Hope scale before and after participating in Ocean Therapy. Statistical analyses revealed a significant increase in mean Hope scores after participating in Ocean Therapy. These results suggest that Ocean Therapy positively affects children’s Hope.

Dr. Gregor Sarkisian is currently writing an academic article on the findings from this summer and we plan to publish it in the coming months. We will continue the same protocol for 2018 for the youth and will initiating some innovative research with various veterans groups as well.

We all know Ocean Therapy is effective and now we have proof! Stay tuned…

2018 BeneFiesta!

2018 BeneFiesta!

1. A May outdoor extravaganza benefit + fiesta to honor our Wounded Warriors, Veterans, Children and Volunteers whose lives have been forever changed by the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation.
2. Typically includes music, feast, a big splash and more. Must be fun! Beach Chic attire

A Mid-century Dream Home You Won’t Want To Miss
Magic moments of music, art and dining under the stars…and maybe a star or two!

When: Saturday, May 19

Where: The Whitehead Home
1130 Ronda Drive, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Time: 7:00 pm

 

Click Here to Purchase Tickets

Welcome Kevin Sousa

Welcome Kevin Sousa

Welcome to Kevin’s Clinical Corner. I feel honored and privileged to carry on the work and vision of Dr. Carly Rogers as the new Clinical Director of JMMF.

My hope is that in this section of the newsletter, you will find some exploration of common behaviors and challenges that can appear acutely in the populations that JMMF serves, but that we all experience in some way almost every day.

Whether it is anxiety, fear, worry, stress, guilt, shame, we will look at what the body does, how it holds these emotional states, and what the brain does when it experiences these feelings, in order to gain insight and understanding around our sense of self.

We will also take a look at some common interventions we can use to give ourselves some relief from these often challenging and painful thoughts and experiences. It is important to delve into why we have these feelings so we can work towards developing a different relationship with them, and to ask ourselves what these feelings and behaviors are telling us as they arise.

Thanks for checking into Kevin’s Clinical Corner. I’ll see you back here in April with some thoughts on anxiety and why it is so similar to the feeling of excitement.

Jessica Ripley is a certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist currently earning her MA in Psychology. She plans to utilize her skills and knowledge to start her own Group Surf Therapy for Substance Abuse Program called Waves of Recovery. At each of our Ocean Therapy sessions, Jessica is kind, considerate and dependable. She is dedicated to ensuring our athletes have a successful day in a supportive and healing environment. She unfailingly brings a smile to the ocean with her stoke for surfing and gives the most heartfelt hugs. Find Jessica at every Camp Pendleton session; she’s our ray of sunshine!

JMMF Past & Future

JMMF Past & Future

It’s an exciting time at the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation! From our humble beginnings as a community-based non-profit dedicated to honoring the life and spirit of Jimmy Miller, we’ve grown into an international leader in the alternative therapy world. Thanks to the vision and leadership of Dr. Carly Rogers and countless others, our Ocean Therapy Program is recognized around the world as the de facto protocol in surf therapy.

We started out in 2005 pioneering Ocean Therapy with children in the LA foster care system. Based on the amazing results, we extended our programming to help U.S. Marines in the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West at Camp Pendleton, which expanded to include veterans from all branches of the military, including women-only Veteran’s sessions. We now conduct close to 50 Ocean Therapy sessions annually touching thousands of lives in the process.

Based on our past success, our vision for the future is rather simple: We want to help as many people as possible experience the healing power of the ocean. To that extent, JMMF is embarking on a multi-phase expansion plan that includes:

  • New population groups including the addiction/recovery communities, mass public and terrorism victims (survivors)
  • Penetrating deeper into depression, anxiety and substance abuse programs with active duty military and veterans
  • Adding Southern California locations (northern LA County, Orange County, and San Diego), East Coast, the Pacific Rim and potentially other international beaches
  • Offering additional sports and activities in the alternative therapy realm

This expansion plan will require additional resources and leadership, and I’m grateful to accept the reins as the Chief Executive Officer of JMMF to lead us into the future. I’m even more excited about the amazing core team we have assembled to carry out our mission.

Nancy Miller

CO-FOUNDER

Kris Primacio

PROGRAM MANAGER

Kevin Sousa

CLINICAL DIRECTOR

Jodi Flicker

MARKETING

Gregor Sarkisian

DIRECTOR OF DATA & EVALUATION

Katie Shea

SPECIAL PROJECTS COORDINATOR

In addition to this amazing team, we have the JMMF Board of Directors, a dedicated group of individuals, some of whom have been with us since day one. We also plan to add new Board members. Additionally, we are creating an Advisory Board and a Healthcare Advisory Board to help further progress our vision to be a leading organization in alternative therapy.

We invite you to join us to contribute your time, talent and treasure as we heal others and ourselves, one wave at a time. Please contact me anytime to climb aboard on this exciting adventure!

Grateful for your past and future support,
Andy Dellenbach
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
E: andy@jimmymillerfoundation.org
M: 310-968-4259