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.

I’m a city girl at heart.

Last week I found myself thinking about my friend, also named Jenny, who is an Army wife and preparing to move to Germany in the next month or so.  Jenny and I were fast friends when we met in grad school in Hawaii.  She is a spunky, firey redhead with an Alabama accent, and we share a mutual disdain for stupidity.  She is perfectly snarky and sarcastic, and upon meeting her I knew she was my spirit animal.  We spent most weekends (and many night classes) together for the entirety of our grad school program, and our husbands ended up being good buddies too.  When I think of my time in Hawaii, she is one of the best memories I take away.

Of course, as a military wife, you quickly learn that even the best friendships are forced to separate in just a few short years.  We moved to Washington, and she moved to the desert of California with her husband, and had a baby boy a couple years before I had Claire.  Anyway, we always stayed in touch and talked about meeting up somewhere in the country ever since we moved apart from one another.  This last Christmas, we did end up meeting her and her family in Orlando for a quick but wonderful Harry Potter experience at Universal Studios.  The park was great and our inner Harry Potter nerds were sufficiently pleased by the trip, but the best part was reuniting with our friends, babies in tow, and picking up right where we left off, as if we hadn’t not seen each other in almost four years.  Those are the kind of friendships you know will last.

Flash forward to last week, as I was thinking about Jenny moving, and a wild and crazy idea popped into my head.  As they are currently stationed in upstate New York for another month or so, I texted her late at night asking if she’d be free for a girls’ weekend in New York City – one last hurrah – before her big move.  I have a TON of airline miles burning a hole in our bank account.  The more I thought about how amazing a weekend like that would be – no kids, plenty of time for girl talk, leisurely meals at fabulous restaurants, no toddlers trying to run free around the place or nap times to worry about – the more excited I became.  I waited almost a whole day in agony before she texted me back and accepted my proposal!

So in two weeks’ time, I will get to fly (in a plane….by myself) to the Big Apple, see a Broadway show, eat at delicious restaurants, and walk and shop the city with one of my best friends.  I am absolutely ecstatic.  Sean volunteered to take a day off of work, and will stay home with Claire so I can have an escape, and I am so grateful.  I know he would love a few days in New York too, but he knows what a hard time I’ve been having lately, all the sadness I’ve been working through, and I just feel so lucky to have a compassionate and supportive husband… who is going to let me go party in the big city without him!

This will be my first time away from both my husband and my daughter since… well, since my daughter was born.  I know I am SO ready for some time away, but I also know I will miss them both.  I’m just not good at being away from Claire.  Do you know any moms who seem to be so good at being away from their kids?  Who don’t ever seem to have a single worry when they are apart from their little ones, and can let loose and be themselves?  I envy those moms.  I don’t have that gene (yet).

Don’t get me wrong, I love nap time – it’s my favorite time of day – and I have a lot of interests and hobbies I try to indulge in when I have time to myself, but as for being able to be away for days on end, or even daycare situations, I haven’t gotten good at relinquishing her to the care of others.  I worry.  And I feel guilty.  And I count the hours until I can pick her up.  And I convince myself it’s good for her, even if she cries and I feel terrible.  Which, for the record, I know it is good for her, but I still feel terrible about leaving her in someone else’s care when she cries for me as I walk away.  Does that ever get easier??

I ran into a mom friend last week who has a daughter a month younger than Claire.  We were talking about the Mother’s Morning Out program that I’ve written about before, and she asked me if I had enrolled Claire in the pre-(pre?) school program for next school year.  I just looked at her blankly and said no, I had no idea what she was talking about.  It’s basically a preschool for two year-olds a few days per week.  I walked away from that conversation feeling kind of stupid for not knowing that Claire should be in preschool already, and confused as to why she should be in preschool already because she is only 20 months old!  For crying out loud.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was definitely not ready to put Claire in anything remotely resembling a “school.”  While the alone time would be nice, I can still use the Mother’s Morning Out program without having to enroll her in a school at two years old.  If I am going to stay home with my daughter while she is so little, I want her to be home with me for most of that time at least.  There is so much time ahead of her where she will have to be in school, probably even starting the following year, that I can’t bring myself to be ready for that stage yet.  She’s still my baby.

Motherhood is a constant inner struggle of feeling guilty for literally everything, wanting freedom and your old life back, and also wanting to keep your babies close to and dependent on you, forever.  I’m always tired and confused and wanting “me time,” and then when I have it, I miss my baby.  The old me would not recognize the new me, I am sure of that.  But I’m also cool with that, because despite the exhaustion and constant struggle, motherhood is simply the greatest gift.

So, in two weeks when my inner Big City Girl is basking in the one true Big City, I will remind myself of the gift that this free time is, and force myself not to feel too guilty.  Life has been a bitch lately, and I deserve some rooftop cocktails and shopping in Soho.  Hell, I may not ever come back.  🙂

 

1 step forward, 2 steps back

Well, I thought I was getting healthy… I even did a mini workout earlier this week to motivate me to get ready to do regular workouts again.  I got all of the Christmas decorations put away, I caught up on laundry, I cooked dinner for several nights in a row.

And then I woke up sick again.  ANOTHER stomach flu, worse than the first one.  I had to walk around bent in half, among other lovely symptoms I won’t scandalize you with.  My husband was at work and all I could do was lay on the living room floor while my daughter played around me in a tornado of toys I was too weak to pick up.  I managed to feed her and get her down for a nap, then hobbled to my bed and called my husband.  THANK GOD Claire decided it was a good day for a 3.5 hour nap, because I was immobile.  Sean still wan’t home when she woke so I had to hobble to her room, change her diaper and feed her again, still bent in half.

Anyway, before the evening was over I had thrown up and felt much better, but I still couldn’t quite make it out of bed.  I was so frustrated with being sick!  I only really get a bad cold about once per year, and in these last two weeks I had the stomach flu, a bad cold, and then another stomach flu!  Way to kick a girl when she’s down, world!  I blame Florida.

I’m just convinced it’s this shitty state’s fault.  It can sense that I’m miserable here, and now it’s twisting the knife in my side a bit more.  Yesterday when I was feeling much more myself, I told Sean I just had to get out of the house, so we decided to go walk on the beach… Immediately upon exiting our house to walk to the car, the putrid waft of the paper mill made its way to my senses, and I felt myself turning green again.  I don’t know what I’m going to do about that smell, it is simply disgusting.  I don’t understand how people just go about their lives when that smell comes around (which is often)!  Then again, I don’t know how people say they “love it here,” and call it “paradise.”  Psshhh.  Not to sound haughty, but I’ve lived in France, Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest.  If this is your “paradise,” you really need to get out more.

A fellow Navy wife I recently met, who is also new here, was posting on Facebook about how much she is enjoying Florida, after I had seen an earlier post of hers about how depressed she was due to the lack of Winter… The new post showed her playing in the sunshine talking about how much she “loved it here so far,” and all I could think was, someone is trying way too hard.  Not to be rude, because to a certain extent that means she has a better outlook than me.  At least she’s trying!  Fake it till you make it, amiright?

I just can’t fake it yet.  I’m the kind of person who needs to get out of the house most days, or I go stir crazy.  But lately I have had almost zero desire to go anywhere.  Mostly because I’ve been too sick to want to leave the house, but also because where would I go?  What can I do that’s entertaining yet free?  (We are on a strict budget this month.  Moving’s expensive.)  My pessimistic mind thinks that everything sucks or stinks (literally) around here, so why would I want to go anywhere?

Sorry to be such a Negative Nancy.  I’m actually feeling a lot better today: I went on a nice trip to Target with my little one, who was a good girl and let me shop in relative peace, came home and bleached the hell out of the bathroom and still had time to write this post while the baby naps.  I guess I just needed to vent my frustrations of the last week.  This blog is a journey that begins with my new journey in the South, and I need to be honest otherwise it’s not therapeutic.  So there’s my dish of honesty for ya: The South; not a fan so far.

And all I can think is, it’s 77 degrees today, in January, and it’s only going to get so much hotter and more humid.  Help.

Which is why I’m making plans to make my home an oasis from the South.  A place I can be among my things and my family and pretend I don’t live where I live, until I decide I’m ok with living here, if that happens.  I will be documenting these projects on this blog, so stay tuned, if you don’t mind the sarcastic anecdotes.

If it helps, I feel a little better after writing that.  Happy weekend!  Maybe we’ll finally get the Christmas lights down tomorrow…

 

New Year, New Life, New Blog.

New Years… Fresh start. For an organized life. A healthier life. A time to rethink your goals. Unless you’re in my household, because then all you’d have at New Years is a cold. And then the stomac…

Source: New Year, New Life, New Blog.