I’m not predictable, I know what I like.

Lately, with all of the terribly negative and depressing articles and personal rants that flood my Facebook feed, I have made a concerted effort to not open up my newsfeed as soon as I wake up in the morning.  And when I catch my muscle memory automatically picking up my phone to check Facebook throughout the day, I will stop myself before I get too far down the negative, angry road to Depressing-ville.  There’s a lot of sad stuff out there these days, and people I respect and am friends with in one life or another often say some hateful, misguided things.  And it makes me sad, when people I respect try to combat hateful actions with more hateful words.  But I digress.

I’ve been trying to cast a more positive light to my little world.  And that means training my thumb to land on my Pinterest app rather than Facebook when I need a few minutes of mindlessness.  And lately it’s been working and pleasantly inspiring!

I’ve noticed a few funny observations… Literally my entire Pinterest feed consists of: macarons, French language activities, macarons, interior design stuff (mostly bathrooms because we are contemplating ripping out and tiling our shower), unicorns (for Claire’s upcoming 2nd birthday), macarons, and…Christmas.

That’s right.  Despite the fact that it’s August, one morning I got sucked down a rabbit hole of beautiful Christmas decorations and crafts, and it made my soul happy and now Pinterest thinks that’s all I want to look at.  And macarons, of course.

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Macarons, unicorns, and francais: that’s what this girl is made of.

Rather than be annoyed, I’m pretty happy with the images that Pinterest suggests for me.  Some might call me predictable, but I like to say that I know what I like.  My mom would always pull things off of racks when we shop together and say “that’s a Genny shirt if I ever saw one,” and my husband says similar things, and I just smile and reply that I have a true and recognizable aesthetic.  So there.

Bring on the macarons, design tips, and party planning!  My aunt messaged me to tell me that because of my pins she has started her own macaron board even though she has never eaten or made them, but hopes to one day.  I was so honored!

Here’s some screen shots of my feed as of today:

If you’d like to follow my pins and see my aesthetic for yourself, go here!

Who wouldn’t want to learn how to make little reindeer out of old wine corks rather than reading someone’s annoying and flawed political rants, anyway??  I’m no masochist.

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Forging friendships: advice from a military spouse.

Hey y’all… It’s been a minute hasn’t it?  I’ve been letting life take over for a while and have not taken the time lately to write my thoughts.  For starters, we went HOME for two weeks, which was what I had been needing for oh so long.  I breathed in that crisp Northwest air every time I walked outside, I basked in the non-humid summer, and I ate all.the.things.  I came back feeling refreshed mentally, larger physically, and motivated to do more creatively, including coming back to my therapy blog sessions.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the couple of friends I’ve made here finally, and how grateful that makes me feel, and how GD difficult it is to make solid friendships when you move every three years.  And how it seems like in the military lifestyle, there is this pressure to make friends with absolutely every military wife you come into contact with, or whose husband works with your husband, so you can all be apart of the same club or something.  Being friends with everyone, or having 900 Facebook friends, is just not my style, and for the last eight or so years of living this life, I have let it make me feel insecure about my ability to “fit in” with these cliquish women and my lack of shared interests (read: lounging on the beach in Hawaii in my bikini all goddamn day, every goddamn day).

But not anymore.  I accept that I won’t hang with the “crowd” here (or anywhere, probably), and that I only need a few good friends to get me through.  Because two or three solid friendships that foster mutual empathy and love is so much better than being one in a group of twenty.

So what’s a normal girl gotta do to make friends in this way of life?  Hell, I have no idea.  I fumble my way through it, as evidenced in all my posts about feeling hopelessly lost in this god forsaken panhandle of Florida.  All I can do is share the wisdom I have gained by my fourth duty station (which means my fourth move, third state, and fourth group of women whom I feel I have nothing in common with).  So here it is:

How to make friends as a military spouse in yet another new duty station:

DON’T EXPECT TO KEEP THE “FRIENDS” YOU MEET AT THE VERY BEGINNING

When we first moved here, my husband hit it off with his base sponsor who was (and is) a really nice person with a hilarious sense of humor, and I met his wife a few weeks later and thought she was great too.  We hung out with them a few times here and there and even started this “brunch club” where we met for brunch a few times and wanted to make it a regular thing.  Needless to say, it didn’t happen.  His wife seemed to hang out with other diver wives that I didn’t know (and wasn’t invited to join), and they lived kinda far away so nothing ever really worked out.  Now, we all still enjoy each other’s company from time to time and I have nothing against them, but I’ve realized that they aren’t going to be our best buddies here, and that’s okay.  I’ve moved on, too.

This is something I’ve thought about a lot, not just since having moved here.  Every time we are somewhere new, and we meet our first couple who seems to jive with us, or group of people we think we could maybe get along with, and we hang out a few times, I think “ok, so these are our friends here.  Cool.”  And I’m usually wrong.  I don’t know why, and it’s probably not always true for everyone, but for me I think I’m in such a hurry to make human contact and meet people I deem “normal” as soon as we get to our new home that I don’t really see that a) they may not be interested in having new friends or b) we don’t have as much in common as I thought.

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MAKE FRIENDS ON YOUR OWN TIME, IN YOUR OWN SPACE

I have always said that I can not be besties with military wives just because both of our husbands serve.  I mean, really… Think about it.  Service members come from all over the country, from all different backgrounds and experiences, and in the military there are almost an endless number of jobs they do.  So why would I automatically be your bff because our husbands sort of know each other?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  MOST of my friends are indeed military wives, but this is not the reason we are friends.  I have had co-workers, classmates, graduate school friends, and mom group friends that have become my friends because of the activities we both engage in, which foster a natural kind of friendship over a shared interest.  Here in Florida, since I have not held a job it has been very difficult to make friends.  One of the girls I knew in Hawaii and contacted after we got settled here has turned out to be a very sweet person and generous friend, and I am very grateful for her.  And yes, our husbands used to work together.  But I maintain this friendship because we are both new-ish moms, live near each other, are both Virgos, love yoga, and have a lot in common.  And my other good friend is a mom I got to know by taking Claire to her weekly music lessons and has no military affiliation.  Win!

Though I can not control my life as far as the military allows, I can control the ways in which I acquire friendships.  I don’t have time for superficial friendships of convenience; this leaves me feeling unfulfilled and not cared about.  I choose to make a few friendships that are meaningful and that I like to think I will take with me when we leave this place.

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YOU MUST MAKE EFFORT TO FORGE FRIENDSHIPS WHEN YOU’RE THE NEW GIRL IN TOWN.

This has been the hardest lesson to learn.  And it seems to simple!  My girlfriends back home from high school still hang out with each other regularly, and that’s just wild to me.  I’ve been all over this damn country and have had to start over so many times, that those easy, effortless friendships just do not exist to me, for very long anyway.

When I was a newly wed and at my first duty station with my husband, I had zero friends.  I watched all the “Diver Wives” (tiny little blonde things) sit around and tell each other how pretty they were, how many times they went to the beach that week, and which mall was their favorite on the island (For. Real. I wish I was joking), while I studied my LSAT prep book and scoured the internet for professional jobs.  I knew I had nothing in common with these girls, and I had been so out of practice at making new friends that I just kind of was paralyzed with fear.  Once we moved on from there, I realized it was going to take effort on my part to meet people that I actually had anything in common with: I had to put myself out there, ask for phone numbers, stalk them on Facebook, and suggest get-togethers.

And so I did.  And it isn’t easy, especially when you have to keep doing this every time you move.  But it really is the only way to meet people you want to spend time with.  And it does get better, because it gets to be routine to put yourself out there.  And I have to say – maybe it’s because I’m in my 30’s and give less of a shit these days, or because I’ve gotten used to this – I feel more confident putting myself out there in some ways than ever before, and I have made some good friendships by doing so. The risk is worth the reward.  Usually.

~*~

So that’s it, my friends.  Some helpful tips if you are relocating somewhere new for any reason.  Or if you just feel like you need some new friends.  I can’t say it’s fool-proof, but it has certainly worked for this friendly introvert who very much loves her comfort zone.  Sadly, we never stay there for long.

Decreasing anxiety, increasing purpose

I realize it’s almost the new weekend, but I’ve had some thoughts from the previous long weekend I wanted to share.  I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and churn out a post this week because I have a very cranky and irritable little girl who is pushing out a molar…Not fast enough.  On top of that I’m fighting off another cold so yet again this household is a bit of a mess.

Anyway, last weekend was super productive for my little family.  We are continuing to let all the dust settle in our new house.  I don’t recall it taking as long to feel this way when we moved last time, but that was probably because last time we moved “home,” and this time, well, I hate Florida.  I know, news flash!

Here’s a confession of sorts: I have literally painted the walls of every home I’ve ever lived in with my husband (and really as a kid, too).  I hate painting, but love the effect, and so I do it.  I painted walls in our crappy military issue house in Hawaii that had no natural light and no backyard, just to cheer myself up about being lonely on a small island while my new husband was deployed.  I painted the walls of our second Hawaii home because it was a lot nicer and I wanted to make the space feel like a real home.  When we moved to Washington, I went crazy and painted a ton of walls and even did a striped wall in the first home we ever purchased.  And now in Florida, again to cheer myself up and because I’m more experienced and know the house needs some warmth and depth, I’ve started the process over again.

After taking several weeks to decide on a color, and investing in four different sample colors and painting them up on our wall (which I NEVER do- I usually have an exact color in my mind and when I find it, I go for it! Not this time), I finally painted an accent wall in our bedroom.

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I went from two paint choices…
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To four…
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After a week of staring at them, I still wasn’t sure so I had to paint a bigger square of the one I was thinking about picking…
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And I picked it!  Boy do I hate painting.  Just looking at the room like this stresses me out.  A necessary evil, I tell ya.

Our bedroom is quite large, with a big beautiful picture window that looks out onto our backyard, and vaulted ceilings with crown molding.  The walls were the builder grade “greige” (grayish-beige) color they were when the house was built fourteen years ago.  I know for a fact this home has had two owners, and I can’t understand why no one would want to paint this big, plain, blank slate of a room.  It really is a pretty space but needs a little warmth and a little dimension.  And because I don’t have the time or energy to paint the whole thing, I painted the wall behind our bed as an accent wall.  Voila!

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Painting the wall the bed sits against really anchors the room to this one feature wall, and draws the eye to it.  It is a warm, muted gray from Lowe’s called “Bleached Shadow,” and I just love it.  I also love the contrast of the wicker wall decor (that I spray painted from a bronze color once upon a time #crafty) above the bed, as well as the light upholstery of our headboard against it.  I am now in search of some more wall decor because I’ve realized this wall is HUGE and needs some subtle art to really show it off.  I’m also on the hunt for new lampshades, as I’ve had the current ones forever and I’m on a crusade against beige these days.  But despite the improvements I still plan to make, thanks to the painting I feel like the room has more purpose.

The process of painting really helped my anxiety, too.  Lately I’ve been having spells of anxiety where my chest feels super tight and I have a hard time taking deep breaths, and though I realize my life is still in upheaval despite my best attempts to settle into our home, I can’t pinpoint one specific thing that would cause me anxiety.  So last week I started working out a bit again, and I also knew that there were several things I wanted to do around the house that have been nagging at me for a WHILE, so I decided to throw myself into a project since I didn’t know what else to do.  And this week I have to say, my anxiety has been a lot better.  Maybe I was just yearning to express myself creatively in this house finally.  And also maybe I really needed to workout.  Like really.

Now I’ve got the bug again and have several little projects I plan to do:

  • Hang bathroom shelves in the master bath room (I already did this promptly after finishing the wall but am saving that for my next post)
  • Finish hanging wall decor
  • Rip out the much hated vertical-blinds and slowly replace them (that will be its own post too- I can’t wait to describe to you how much I truly hate verticals.  Like a lot).
  • Paint sun room and create a true play room for Claire
  • Add curtains to sunroom- if you don’t know what to do with a room but feel like it’s missing something, I beg you to hang some curtains.  You don’t have to spend a fortune, and it adds instant drama and warmth.
  • Paint kitchen table and chairs- I have chalk paint and materials at the ready, I can’t wait to get started!
  • Plant bulbs in planters and cheer up the front and backyards with Spring flowers.

Who knows, maybe we will cross some of these off the list this weekend!  Until next time!