Life is Rosey MEMORIAL DAY Benefit for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

For many Americans, Memorial Day represents the beginning of summer with backyard BBQs and maybe even an extra day off work.  On the long weekend we often gather with friends and family to "chill."  We see more flags around than usual, but often don't spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about veterans. Last year I wanted my kids to connect to the meaning of Memorial Day, so my husband and I took our daughter Rosey and son Mateo to put flags on graves of veterans.  As 5 year old Rosey went from grave to grave placing flags and "straightening" up the vases and flowers that had blown over in the wind, I noticed families driving up. I watched them get out of their cars carrying flowers, flags, and balloons. One grave was freshly buried and a large group of men, women, children of all ages gathered. I tried to imagine what Memorial Day would be like if my son, daughter, mother, or father had given their LIFE serving our country.  I shed some tears at the thought... Last month, I attended a West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce breakfast with special guest speaker Paul Rieckhoff who is the founder and executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).  His story and his message really impacted me.  We all know that many veterans gave their lives, but there are also so many who come home in great need of support and healing. Reickhoff created an organization that serves those needs. I was shocked when he said, "Unemployment for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is nearly 17% - eight percentage points higher than the national average as reported by the Department of Labor. Nearly 2.4 million veterans have been leading the way overseas. It’s time for us to welcome them back with jobs so they can continue leading here at home.”  He encouraged employers to seek out veterans for hiring and demystified some of the misconceptions that keep veterans unemployed.  He noted that they are hardworking, disciplined, able think on their feet, technologically savvy, and will very likely have a good haircut, shined shoes.  That last part got a laugh, but is also a very good point. IAVA works hard in Washington to push for policies like protecting the GI Bill and getting better healthcare for veterans.  Did you know that a veteran could wait up to 300 days to get a mental health appointment with the VA?  I was blown away by this fact. Rieckhoff said, "These are veterans who have experienced first-hand the psychological toll of war. Since the Iraq war began, suicide rates and other signs of psychological injury, like marital strain and substance abuse, have been increasing every year." Mental Health services need to be READILY AVAILABLE to veterans. After hearing that speech I went home to my jewelry design business and wondered what I could do...  The result was this:                                     My Hand Stamped EAGLE Charm Necklace has a 1/4" sterling silver disc hand stamped with one letter, number, or symbol.  It comes with solid sterling silver Eagle charm as well as a Swarovski crystal or pearl of your choice handwrapped with sterling silver wire. 50% of all profits from sale of this item from Saturday May 26th - Saturday June 2nd will be donated to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Place your order and get more info at www.lifeisrosey.com I also encourage you to visit www.iava.org to learn more about the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. And as you enjoy your Memorial Day BBQ I hope you'll take time to pause for a moment of silence for the men, women, and families who have made many great sacrifices to serve our country. With Love and Gratitude, Sarah Jane www.sarahjanenelson.com

My 9/11 story. An eyewitness account of that beautiful blue sky morning that changed our nation and our world.

I write this in honor of the precious lives lost in the September 11th attacks. My heart goes out to the families, the survivors. This is my story of that day - September 11, 2001 Around 8am.  My boyfriend René was about to go on his morning run, and I decided at the last minute that I would go with him on my bike.  We headed south on the West Side Highway bike path, and it was the most spectacular morning.  I remember the sun gleaming on the Hudson River in a way that made me think, “I can’t believe THIS is our life. We live in the most beautiful, special place.  A spectacular day…” As we approached the boat basin, I started to think that we shouldn’t go our usual route around the base of the World Trade Center and back up Broadway to our 14th Street apartment.  René had been sick and I didn’t want him to push himself too much with a long run.  As we turned around and headed north, I remember seeing a bunch of commuters getting off the ferry.  They all looked chipper and refreshed - briefcases in hand from their boat ride commute on such a pretty morning.  What a lovely way to get to work!   As we passed Stuyvesant High School, the city noise seemed to get louder.  Planes over Manhattan were a common occurrence, but it was especially loud above us.  I remember thinking, “Lord, how close are they flying planes to the city these days? I can’t even hear myself speak!”  Then we looked up. 8:46am.  We watched American Airlines Flight 11 crash into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  An enormous fireball shot out towards us and the sound of the deep BOOM shook my insides.  It seemed like many seconds passed before I took my next breath.  A woman nearby crumbled to her knees on the pavement.  Traffic stopped.  For a moment, the city around us was in stunned silence with only the sound that of cracking embers falling from high above and the low roar of the flames.  Finally, sirens rang faintly in the distance.  René and I looked at one another in disbelief.  The paper and debris that streamed from the building after the explosion went with the southeast wind and we were luckily standing two blocks northwest of the World Trade Center.  We just stood there watching, unable to believe our eyes. This is our view of the building right after the fireball died down into smoke.  Something you can't believe you're looking at.  Something that might happen in a Die Hard movie, not in real life in front of you... At the time, we both thought it was air traffic control gone awry.  I didn’t have my cell phone and I knew mom would want to contact me, so we finally turned away from the now smoking building and headed north up the West Side Highway sidewalk. I remember crying as I rode my bike - looking back over and over.  I also remember the fire trucks racing by, headed for the scene of the incident.  I’ll never forget those handsome young firemen, hanging their heads out of the fire truck windows.  They saw the black smoke billowing out of the giant tower and they charged forward towards the scene that we were fleeing.  One guy in particular caught my eye, no more than 30 years old, handsome with brown eyes and light brown hair.  He looked scared.  As a first responder to the incident, it’s possible that brave, young man didn’t survive that day.  When we got to the intersection of 14th Street and the West Side Highway, René headed across the street and I waited with my bike for a chance to cross.  As I stood there waiting, I looked back at the building, still in disbelief.  Just then, another fireball.  I yelled, “RENÉ!  LOOK!” 9:03am  United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of World Trade Center.  I couldn’t tell what caused it.  I didn't see that plane because it had hit the tower from the south.  It looked like an giant explosion had come out of the building from our angle.  I was so confused and in shock as we hurried home.  As we arrived at our building at 237 West 14th Street, we heard intense screams coming from the apartment across the hall.  Screams like nothing I had ever heard.  We knocked on the door and discovered that my neighbor’s sister worked at Cantor Fitzgerald which was located at the top of the tower that was hit first.   She was hysterical as she watched The Today Show.  I tried to comfort her, but there is so little you can do in that circumstance. We went into our apartment and gathered a few things, talked to René’s brother Hector on the phone, and then called my mom and told her we were heading up to her place.  At this time (less than 5 minutes after the 2nd plane had hit) people were just discovering what had happened.  We walked outside and were able to hail an empty cab.  (With all the subways stopped and bridges and tunnels closed, empty cabs were non-existent that day.  We were lucky.) Once inside the cab, the driver told us that a plane had hit the Pentagon.  It was surreal.  I thought, “Do things like this REALLY happen to me?  Right here in the U.S.A.?  This is a war zone.  What’s next?”  We didn’t know what else was coming and so we just held each other close and tried to remain calm.  I remember the cab driver (a Middle Eastern guy with a very heavy accent) was telling us, "It's the governments who hate each other. The regular people in the Middle East can get along.  Palestinians can live and work beside Israelis and have no problem.  It's the politics! People are just people!"  We got to mom and my step-dad Steve’s apartment at West 102nd Street and were still in shock.  The television was on the Today Show and we all sat on the couch watching the events unfold.  It showed doctors and nurses at St. Vincent’s Hospital (right by our apartment) waiting outside with stretchers to treat the injured but very few injured ever arrived.  So many who worked in World Trade Center that day would not make it to St. Vincent’s Hospital. Suddenly, right on television, at 9:59am the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.  When the cloud of dust settled, the building was gone.  It was hard to fathom.  We were shaken.  It was scary to be on this island, bridges and tunnels shut down.  Not knowing what might happen next.  At 10:28am the North Tower collapsed.  Two skyscrapers.  110 floors each.  Gone. Throughout that day, we hung out at my mom's apartment. Dazed.  Trying not to let panic set in.  We were constantly reminded of the day’s seriousness by F-16 Fighter Jets roaring overhead.  We watched comedy.  Any funny tv show or film we could find.  We even put on my childhood home videos to lighten the mood. The city was covered in a thick cloud of smoke and dust…  It was very strange to think that human life was somewhere in that dust. Finally, by afternoon we realized we hadn’t eaten all day and decided to get some food at the corner diner.  Walking outside, we saw the strangest sight.  Hoards of people, dressed in office attire, walking north.  With all the subways stopped, taxis non-existent, and tunnels and bridges closed to cars - people were walking home to upper Manhattan, New Jersey, the Bronx… Some had briefcases; many were covered in white soot.  They all looked tired and dazed.  I wish I’d taken a photo but I was still in too much shock to think to do it.  When we got in Metro Diner, we were shocked to discover that it was packed.  New Yorkers were sharing a meal together, some sitting quietly, some talking about what they saw and how they felt.  There was a sense of goodwill among the citizens.  We would pull together to get through no matter what. After that day, the city was still in a tailspin.  The air down on 14th Street had a unique smell that I suppose can only come from more than 2,000 people and 2 skyscrapers cremated in the blink of an eye.  It was strange to breathe it in.  Our neighbor let us know that her sister who worked in the South Tower, had been late for work that morning and her life was miraculously spared.  She had worked on a team with 30 people and only 3 had survived.  She was late for work, one person was at a funeral that morning, and one was home sick.  She spent the next month going to funeral after funeral for all her lost friends and the PTSD and guilt she experienced was severe.  I wonder if she ever recovered… The most heartbreaking sights in days that followed Sept. 11th were the flyers.  Faces of mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, cousins, boyfriends…  All ages and races.  MISSING. This is a bus stop right by my apartment. Families held on to hope that their loved ones somehow got out of the buildings and were in a hospital or wandering the streets somewhere. I would stand and look at those fliers - so many faces.  Good hard working people who were loved.  Week by week, the fliers were slowly taken down.   Life went on for New York City.  The goodwill and warmth shared by our citizens on that day slowly shifted back to the harder edged city ways.   I had PTSD with an intense sensitivity to sounds.  I would wake in the night and think I heard an explosion far away (perhaps the Empire State Building?) only to discover it was a truck driving over a man-hole cover.  The sound of the North Tower exploding in a fireball was stuck in my ears - a low, loud boom.  René comforted me when I cried in the night.  The first “normal” thing we did after 9/11 was to see the movie “Zoolander” on that following Saturday night.  It was packed with other New Yorkers trying to feel normal.  Everyone in the theater laughed out loud.  My friends on Broadway went back to performing their shows.  We all tried to go on with life… holding our loved ones a little tighter than before. And that’s my 9/11 story.  I know I’m just one of millions of lives changed by that beautiful blue sky morning of September 11, 2001. “Life is short, we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us, so be swift to love and make haste to be kind and may the Divine Mystery, who is beyond our ability to know but who made us, and who loves us, and who travels with us, Bless us and keep us in peace.” Love, Love, Love, and Peace. Sarah Jane P.S. - You can subscribe to my blog by entering your e-mail address in the box at the top right of this page. I never sell your info or spam you. Just occasional ramblings, pictures, and thoughts...

“Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues” is released TODAY!!!!

Well, after much hard work and planning my first ever BLUES CD is for sale! Yeaaaa! After years of playing music with Hawkeye, I finally have this recording that means so much to me. I love the sound, I love the artwork, I love love love Hawkeye and Irving for all their hard work. You can click this link http://sarahjanenelson.com/?page_id=11 to hear clips from the new CD, "Wild Women Don't Get the Blues." You can also purchase CD's right there at www.sarahjanenelson.com - Thanks to all my music fans for your support and encouragement. Now order your copy today!

Love, Sarah Jane

Southern Oregon Giveaway! Spread the Word!

Attention Rogue Valley Oregon LIFE IS ROSEY fans!  It's Giveaway Time and the winner gets a FREE CUT AND COLOR at an amazing new hair salon in Ashland called Real Beauty.  To enter just tell your facebook friends (or e-mail friends if you don't do facebook) what you like about www.lifeisrosey.com (or share a specific product with them) and then come back here to tell me you shared by posting a comment.  You can be entered one more time by telling me what's the last piece of jewelry you bought? Was it more than or less than $50? and Who was it for?  The drawing will be on  Friday April 1st! 

Help me spread the word! Real Beauty did my hair and I ADORE it!  

And for you subscribers who live outside of this area, no worries, next month I'm doing a fabulous giveaway of a BRAND NEW Hand stamped style!  Woo Hoo!

Hugs, Sarah Jane

Girl Scout Ice Skating

I just had to share this pic.  Rosey recently joined the Girl Scouts and this was her first official activity.  Ice Skating.  I went by myself with the kids because Rene had rehearsal and it was a challenge to juggle two non-skaters at the same time.  Such a sweet bunch of non-skaters though!  Fun times...

Valentine’s Day is almost here!

Hello friends,  I haven't posted here in a long time but I have so many articles in the works and the New Year will have some activity on this blog!  I just wanted to send a little note to let you know that I am accepting Valentine's Day shipping until SUNDAY FEB. 6th.  If you haven't been to www.lifeisrosey.com in a while, check it out and see the work I've done there.  I still have dozens of ideas (some are already photographed!) that are still not in the store but that's what makes it exciting!  You'll always find something new.  Go ahead and get those Valentine's orders in if you want something and I'll talk to ya soon... Here's my new sterling silver guitar pick, handstamped and presented in a handmade (buttery-soft) leather keyring pick case.  The PERFECT gift!  Super popular!  Yea! Love,  Sarah Jane

www.sarahjanenelson.com is up and running!

I'm excited to announce that this is the new home of all things Sarah Jane Nelson. It will be a one stop shop for my blog, bio, photo gallery, music updates, Life is Rosey jewelry updates, family updates, and links to buy my CDS and jewelry. It's a work in progress so stay tuned to see it come together. Meanwhile subscribe with your e-mail address to receive posts right in your e-mail! Happy 2011!!!! Love and Blessings, Sarah Jane