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PTG is the acronym for Post Traumatic Growth. There are some people who experience a traumatic event and from it, their lives change. The change results in a positive outcome albeit a greater sense of life’s purpose, deeper spirituality, deeper relationships, discovering new talents skills or possibilities and some may even become a mentor or inspiration for others. Do these people have above average coping mechanisms or simply have different wiring in their thought process? Is it environmental conditioning or is it genetic?

At 4 am the dreams were very troubling, but this was different from any other of my post military dreams.

I was dying in a gas chamber. Just as my chest was about to collapse, I awoke. There were heavy toxic fumes in my room, I was choking, gasping for air and forced to crawl on the floor to get to a window to get some. I felt real panic starting to creep in as my lungs burned, but my training kicked in and told me to keep cool headed. The alarms were screaming downstairs, my thoughts were, "Smoke doesn’t travel down." I chose to use the back stairwell to get outside. It was then I realized my house was on fire and I called 911.

The sacred wee hours of morning became a living Hell in the historic Highlands of Ada Blvd. As I watched the carnage, the whole time I kept say over and over, "It will be alright."

Yes. It was disturbing. Yes I was in disbelief but not distraught. This wasn’t the first time a traumatic event hit my life but I took the punch better like a conditioned fighter.

It wasn't just material assets being destroyed, I come to realize that I was about to be purged of all that I thought defined me. My sports trophies, my diplomas, my military medals, and accolades, my cherished heirlooms, my photo albums, the crafts and poems my children (now adults) had made in elementary school, my intensive library, all my personal artworks I had painted and all my unpublished manuscripts. I had no proof left that I existed or what I had achieved in my life this past 45 years. Then I asked myself the most profound question… Who am I… Who IS Angel Shaw?

The thing that motivated me was the words of my beloved late grandfather, also a decorated veteran.

"When you are born into this world you have only one thing that you will take to the grave and that is your name. You carry the name of your ancestors and pass it through to your progeny. What you chose to do with it while you are here will be your legacy. Do it and your family proud." That night I could have died in that fire but there was something greater I am meant to do. We all have a “dharma,” a life purpose.

So.... My question is, Who are you? What is your life purpose? From your traumatic event are you someone who is ready to grow, evolve, be more, make a difference? Do you want to learn how?