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.

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On sadness, change, and grief…

I took a break from blogging last week, because my husband was home all week and because I’ve been going through a rough time.  Let’s just say an event brought up a lot of feelings to my surface, and my cup runneth over.  I’ve had some sleepless nights, some good cries, and some real talk with my husband.  The reality of this move is still settling with me, but yet it does not feel settled at all.  I’ve realized I’m mourning the life we left behind – the one I didn’t think I’d have to leave – and I’m not ready to let that go yet.  They say that the depression stage is the final one before acceptance, so maybe I can hope this is progress?

In all my wallowing, I’ve realized just how much I’ve taken my husband for granted.  And so today, I sat down and this letter to him just poured out of me.  I’ll post it here as a mode of self expression.  Perhaps I will say all of this to him in not so many words.  The military lifestyle is not for the faint of heart.

Dear husband,

I know I haven’t been the most pleasant thing to be around lately.  I have been quiet, and sad, and a little selfish by wallowing in my feelings.  I have been short with you, maybe a little too reliant on you for help with the baby, maybe even a little mean at times.  And at other times, I have required you to be up late with me because I can’t sleep, or hold me while I cry and pray that you can figure out what to say to me to snap me out of the funk I’m in.

I know you have feelings, too.  You work so, so hard.  Long hours, short nights.  You never stop when you get home, either: take the baby on a walk so I can cook dinner in peace, take her outside and push her in the swing, feed her the dinner I cooked.  Every other night it’s your turn to give her a bath, read her a story and then we both put her to bed.  And then you do the dishes from the meal I cooked (although usually we do this one thing together).  After the kitchen is cleaned, either you or I (lately it’s often you) have to make your lunch for the next day, set the coffee, wipe down the countertops.  Maybe we have an hour to veg on the couch, but then it’s time to get ready for bed.  Lock up the house, check on the baby, brush teeth, get all of your clothes out for work the next day.  Sometimes lately I don’t let you sleep as much as you need, because I am lost and need help.  And then it’s morning, and you are gone before I am awake, and everything starts all over again.

And then I am home all day with our daughter, with mostly my thoughts for company (toddlers aren’t very good at empathy).  And I feel sad.  Because I don’t have any friends really, in this new place.  Because I’m lonely all day, and I don’t like this new town we moved to, and I miss my home and my family so incredibly much that sometimes I feel a small hole in my heart.  And I’m sad because I don’t want to wish away this time, when our daughter is so small and snuggly and sweet.  When I feel the last years of being truly young playing out to true adulthood.

My mom says I am grieving for that life we had but chose to leave behind.  It was a risk, we said, and risks can have big payoffs.  A big promotion, a big bonus, new opportunities.  But the only opportunity I want open to us is the one we left behind.  I want to go back.  I would still go back.  I’m not sure my mind will change on that.

But I know we can’t go back.  We can only go forward, and I still don’t know how to do that yet.  This is not the town for me, the people, the lifestyle.  I am lonely and not confident anymore, like I was where we used to live, where everything made sense.  Where made sense.

What will become of me now?

I am sorry for my selfish sadness right now.  I hope it won’t last long, but the truth is I just need to be selfish at the moment.  I need you to be there for me, even if I can’t be there for you in the same way.  I need you to tell me over and over and over again that it will be okay, that this time is a blip on the radar of our life together, that life will go on and I will find happiness.  That you will lose sleep with me sometimes, and let me cry, and help me through this.

Life isn’t always supposed to be easy, and I get that.  This is a difficult time in my life, in our lives, but I don’t want it to be wasted.  Maybe I can embrace the difficulty, pray about it, and let it build me up even stronger.  Maybe.  But I don’t feel my strongest these days.  I feel sensitive and sad.  And I need you to see me through to happiness again.  And I promise that if you can do that for me, I will one day do it for you, too.

This is where I’m meant to be, because this is where I am

Happy Monday!  I’ve been cooking up some great things in the kitchen this week that I plan to share once I get all my images loaded, but in the meantime I thought I would share this post I wrote a while back, as I continue to deal with accepting my lot in life these days.  I know many, many military spouses or anyone who has had a huge life change can identify.  I’d love for you to share your thoughts…

On Friday I received some perspective from the most unlikeliest of sources.  Seriously, I never would have expected this person to offer me some food for thought that would actually leave a lasting impression on me, and that I’ve been thinking about ever since.  It led me to some pretty profound conclusions I am making about my life, namely the acceptance of what my life is, despite my willful denial.

My husband had this boss back in Washington who was always a bit of a challenge for him.  They had a constant personality clash and while they got on and worked together fine, Sean was never quite sure how to read his boss.  I was friends with his wife, as we had babies about 5 months apart, and several things in common such as a graduate education and professional jobs/goals.  Still, I was never able to feel close to his wife for much the same reason that my husband was never in his boss’s club of favorites.

Anyway.  This former boss of my husband’s was in town for work, and we were chatting at a social function.  I think Sean had informed him that I was having a hard time settling in here, because one of the first things he said to me was “So you know, there are a ton of fun things to do here in Florida.”  I sarcastically replied, “Oh really?  Are you sure?” (I’m snarky like that).  And then he went into all the fun things he and his wife used to do when they lived here a while back.  I appreciated the input and really do plan to make the most of this place, when I’m ready, but I also told him I just really belong in Washington and I hope we can go back there soon.

To which he replied with the aforementioned profound perspective that I was not expecting.  He said to me, “The way I see it, you guys moved back ‘home’ to Washington after being in Hawaii for five years, and that really pressed ‘reset’ on your life as a military family.  You got all settled in close to your family and everything familiar, and moving to Florida was like ripping you out of your comfort zone again and reminding you that you actually are a military family.  It will just take time to realize that.”

Mic drop.

Jaw drop.

I played it cool and acknowledged that that was indeed true, all of it, and that I was sure I’d get used to it in time.  But as we left that evening, I couldn’t stop thinking about what he said.  This guy had maybe said three sentences TOTAL to me in the past 3.5 years, and here he was giving me some advice I had never heard from anyone, and which had directed my thinking in a completely different direction.  I like to say I am so much more than a military wife, and I am, but I have to acknowledge that being a military wife is part of me too, and I am who I am today in large part because of the last eight years of my life.

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It was easy to acknowledge being a military wife in Hawaii: I was a newlywed, living in paradise, and therefore excited and proud to be living that lifestyle.  But I also had just graduated college, and had goals that had nothing to do with being a military spouse.  And I met a lot of spouses who seemed like their only goal in life was to be, well, a military spouse.  I was married to the man I love who also happened to be in the military, I wasn’t in love with a military man.  If that makes sense.  Then when we moved to Washington, I was back home.  Everything was familiar and comfortable, and though Sean traveled constantly, my life felt like it went back to normal and it was easy to forget that I was even a military spouse at all.  Heck, all my family lived three hours or less away.

And then we moved to Florida.  And all I do is complain about my life.  And everything is an adjustment again, this time with a small toddler in tow.  And my goals have changed a lot since then, many of which can not be achieved while we live this lifestyle.  And all my family is 3,000 miles away.

And so I struggle.

So I’m having a long and hard think on all this.  I appreciate the perspective and admit it was deeply profound, but it also doesn’t make the transition any easier.  My stepmom, who is a mindfulness coach, explained to me a few weeks ago that this is where I am meant to be, because this is where I am.  Sounds pretty zen, doesn’t it?  But maybe that’s the simple truth of it: despite my wishing I wasn’t here, it is indeed where I am.  I am here with my husband who doesn’t have to travel for the next 2.5 years, my sweet daughter, and sunshine.

So much sunshine.

Maybe that will have to be enough for a while.

The plight of staying home

The truth is, I’m struggling lately.  Not with accepting our new home, or dealing with the emotional trauma of moving across the country (although yes I am still working on accepting these things as well).  I’ve been having a bit of an existential crisis lately, and I’m just not sure what I’m doing with my life these days.

I know, I know.  I’m a mommy, and that’s no small feat and it’s certainly not “nothing.”  But I’ve been asking myself for some time now whether that’s all I want to be doing right now.  And I’m still not sure.  Some days, I feel so happy to be home with my daughter, soaking in every moment with her, developing that bond that I’ve always wanted to have with a little girl of my very own.  I am so blessed to even have the option to be able to stay home with her.

But on other days – not as often, but still with some frequency – I feel like I need more.  I need mental stimulation, I need to be working toward some goal, and I wouldn’t mind some extra money in my family’s bank account.  But the very thought of finding a job, and the routine that would necessarily follow that – waking Claire up super early, getting her fed and out of the house, dropping her at daycare where she would have to vie for attention with a room full of other toddlers, and then only seeing her for a few hours in a day after work before she goes to bed – scares me, a lot.  I know TONS of moms who do it every day, and I know it’s totally possible and sometimes scary and hard things are worth it, but I don’t know if I want that something more that much.

And I don’t know how to figure it out.  Part time work maybe?  Or do I just need to utilize a babysitter more often?  How do I achieve that balance in my life where I feel like I have time to myself or where I’m thinking about something other than my daughter, even for just a little bit?  Does anyone ever feel like they’ve achieved that balance?

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On that note, my husband and I did have a triumphant moment last night.  We haven’t found a steady babysitter since we moved here, and I’ve never had anyone but a grandma put her to bed while Sean and I went out for a date night.  A couple of weeks ago we met some neighbors on our street who are former military and have a sixteen year-old daughter.  Long story short, we met their daughter who is sweet as can be, they invited us out to a honky-tonk bar for live music and drinks (when in Rome, right?), and I was so flustered and in such desperate need for a break that I decided I just had to go for it and hope Claire behaved for a babysitter.  And guess what?  We did it!  Claire played with her sitter and went to bed relatively easily, we had a great time with our new friends, and I had a few too many drinks which was exactly what I needed after a very busy week.  And the best part is we now have a babysitter two houses down from us and we have decided a once per month date night is in our future.  That’s definitely a step in the right direction…

Sometimes I think (hell, I know) I take life too seriously.  I worry over everything.  Am I interactive enough with Claire?  Is she learning everything she should be at her age?  Does she know how much I love her?  I take her routine too seriously and I never embrace chaos.  Chaos is my enemy.  But as I’m learning how to be a mom and accepting what my life has become these days, I feel like I want and need more chaos in my life.  More than that, I want to not be ruled by fear of everything that could happen.  I need to do right by myself and let Claire figure out how to be away from me from time to time because it’s good for her and it’s very good for me.  Sean and I hadn’t had a date night in ages because finding a sitter and hoping Claire doesn’t freak out while we’re gone and worrying over if she’ll go to bed ok without us literally scared me away from even trying.  But I have to try.  I have to go for things because otherwise I get in a rut and I’m unhappy and dying for a break that I won’t allow myself to have.  I have done and been through some seriously difficult things in my life…More than I even care to list here.  So why is allowing myself to be away from my daughter every so often feel like one of the hardest??  Life is so weird.

So if you need me, I’ll be browsing the job ads and trying to decide what I really want for myself… More of a regular break from the daily grind?  Some sort of job where I can use my talents and skills more frequently?

How do YOU get yourself out of a rut?  I’d love to know, especially from moms who are home with their littles all day.

Doctor! Doctor!

Think about, for a moment, all of the things or people in your life that you rely on for services.  Do you have a regular person you go to for a haircut?  One who knows just how you like it cut?  Do you have a great doctor who knows your medical history?  How about maybe a chiropractor, who knows why your neck is literally bent the wrong way, and also knows just how to adjust you to relieve that chronic ache you get?

Back home, I had a gal who knew never to cut my hair too short, because if I asked for it short she knew I’d end up crying and feeling like I looked like a boy.  I had an OB who delivered my daughter, and who knew exactly how much damage that wreaked “down there” (she should, she stitched me up after all); she also knew the ins and outs of my pregnancy experience, and brought my daughter into this world (one day I’ll tell you her birth story, and why I think my doctor is literally an angel).  And yes, I had a chiropractor because of my bent neck and he knew just where to adjust me that gave me instant relief.  I also had a dental hygienist who knew why I have gum issues (its genetic) and who did an AMAZING job cleaning my teeth.  I trusted her endlessly.  Really, she was my bff because she basically saved my teeth.  That sounds like I don’t brush or floss my teeth, but I promise you I take better care of my teeth than anyone I know, even you!

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I have been in Florida for almost four months (which I can NOT believe), and am just now starting to feel like I almost have all my ducks in a row.  I never gave much thought to how much a person relies on various services to keep them running healthfully… But I guess now that I’m 31 and actually need to see doctors every now and then, and have to pay extra attention to my teeth, etc., I am painfully (pun intended) aware of how hard it is to find people you can trust for all of these things when you are in a new city, all the way across the freakin’ country.  Here’s a little checklist of all the services I’ve had to locate since moving, just to give you an idea:

  • General practice doctor
  • Gynecologist
  • Chiropractor
  • Dentist
  • Hair stylist
  • Pediatrician
  • Pediatric dentist
  • Gym/yoga studio

Not to mention a great place for a pedicure, which I have yet to find.  Or an eye doctor if you’re most people (I still have great vision but I’m sure that’ll be an issue one day too).  Or the perfect coffee shop or favorite restaurant.  We have found a Chinese takeout place that is better than anything in our little town in Washington, so I guess that’s a plus.

Anyway, up until this week, when I finally got an appointment with a general practice doctor, I felt like I was flying blind, listless in the wind because I didn’t know who to see to clean my teeth, or where to go for a pap smear, and so on.  I have slowly been finding all of these services since we moved, but only recently found an OB/GYN whom I LOVE (without any recommendation, too!  Score.), a good dentist (though I’m not yet convinced they are as good as my previous one) and a doctor for Claire.  And because you probably never thought much about all of the doctors and services you need in your life, you probably have never considered what it feels like to not know who to go see if you’re sick, or have a tooth ache, if your baby is sick, etc.  I know I never did.

(I know, I know: first world problems.  I promise I am not complaining- I am very aware that my family is so very lucky to have these services available to us through insurance and Sean’s job.  I would never complain about having these options or even paying for them.  I believe it is everyone’s right to have these types of services but that is a different discussion altogether.  I’m just trying to express that it’s difficult to constantly change everything every three years, just when you start to feel good about your choices.)

I can tell you, it makes you anxious.  Unrooted.  Like you have no support system, and you don’t know where to go if an emergency occurs, God forbid.  And it’s hard to find all of these people and trust them at the same time.  You’re new in a city, you don’t know a lot of people, how do you know you can trust all these doctors?  It takes a lot of work finding ones who seem to actually listen to you.

Luckily, I knew one gal from our time living in Hawaii, who lives here now with her husband and baby.  She has been a life saver- she pointed me in the direction of my chiropractor, Claire’s pediatrician, and told me about a great yoga studio.  She also connected me to some other Navy wives who have told me of other good places to go for various things.  I discovered a great park only ten minutes from our house thanks to her, and Claire absolutely LOVES it there.

As much as I like to call myself the anti-military wife, I have sure relied on her for help adjusting to this place… Hey, just admitting that is progress for someone like me, who thinks they can do everything themselves (and tries to).  Have you tried finding a doctor based solely off of a list on your insurance company’s website?  How are you supposed to choose from a random list of names??

So I guess my advice to you, the military spouse moving somewhere new and far away, is to think of anyone you might know from your past who might live in your new duty station.  And if you can’t think of anyone, search Facebook for a military spouse’s group in your new city (I guarantee you there is one).  Maybe you do know someone based off of that group’s members… And if you don’t, post on that page and ask for any recommendation for anything you need: daycare, groceries, the best fro-yo in town, whatever.  Even someone like me, who is fiercely independent and likes the challenge of figuring everything out on my won, reads every post on my local mil spouse groups, and has asked for numerous recommendations for things.  It can also go a long way in making you feel less isolated and alone.  Seeing new people join the groups, and others moving away reminds you that it is a constant cycle and there are many many other wives out there feeling everything you are feeling.

You might even make new friends that way- this gal I’m speaking of was only really an acquaintance in Hawaii, but now we’ve gotten together for several play dates with our little ones, have done a girls’ night and have another one coming up next week.  Without her I’d still be so lonely!  One friend is better than none!

In all my lamenting and indulging in loneliness, I will say I am thankful for the way in which military spouses are so willing to help each other out.  The more I live this life, the more I realize how important it is to lean on each other when you can.  And that folks, is hard for me to admit, but there you have it.

Now that I have a doctor, I can check all those things off my list.  I even found a hair stylist a month ago who gave me one of the BEST haircuts I’ve ever had!  I am feeling much more at ease, knowing I know who to take my daughter to if she gets sick, knowing I have a trustworthy chiropractor to help with my chronic neck pain, and where to get my annual physicals at a fantastic OB clinic.

I’m not ready to admit to liking it here yet (I’d still move home at the drop of a hat), but finding all these services definitely has me feeling more settled.

Progress.

Monday musings

Mondays are always rough for me, and I assume most stay-at-home moms?  After a weekend of having help with the baby, or at least having a second set of eyes so I can detach myself a little bit from whatever my little is getting into (and don’t forget letting my husband make the baby breakfast, essentially giving me one morning off), it’s hard for me to jump back into our weekly routine with no other help.  Today I feel like there’s not enough coffee in the world to make me feel fully alert.  I really need to go to bed earlier.

On a typical Monday like today, I try to plan out my week and get organized with my goals.  I think about what shopping I need to do (this week: all of it), what errands I need to run, what I need to do around the house (all the bathrooms, Lord help me), and what activities I want to do with Claire so she is happy and entertained.  My mental lists are starting to include this blog: what I want to write about, what’s on my mind, what projects or recipes I should share, etc.  I realize I haven’t shared any projects and just one silly recipe so far, but I know I’ll get there.  It is obvious through my posts that my life has been chaos lately, and currently my blog is my way of venting my frustration.  Once my chest feels lighter, the creativity will come…. I actually did a project yesterday that I’m excited to share here, but I’m too tired today, so this is yet another journal entry, if you will.

So, as I’m organizing my thoughts for a blog post, I realize they (my thoughts) are all over the place.  Here are some things I’ve been thinking about, for your reading pleasure:

  • Ever since I was sick last month, for the entire month, I’ve been taking Emergen-c vitamin packs, and I think they have made a huge difference for me.  Not only do I feel well again, I have a lot of energy throughout the day.  That is probably partially due to the difference in energy levels when you are sick vs. healthy, but I think it’s also the extra boost of vitamins.  Instead of reaching for that third cup of coffee in the morning, I throw back a full glass of water with vitamins and I feel instantly better.  Try it, you’ll like it!
  • This weekend we drove 1.5 hours to Eglin Air Force Base, which has the biggest military exchange around.  There is something so weirdly comforting to me about military exchanges – they are literally exactly the same on any base, anywhere in the world (I’ve been to many), and they all sell the same brands.  They even smell the same.  And you are around families just like you- everyone is most likely far from home, living this crazy nomadic lifestyle.  Plus everything is tax free, so there’s that.  I bought new sunglasses because I lost my beloved Raybans while chasing Claire through Target a couple weeks back.  I am not surprised to report that because I am the pickiest of sunglasses picker-outers, I took a pair home that I will promptly return this week.  Meanwhile I am squinting in the perpetual Florida sunshine until I find the perfect pair (probably by next year).
  • On Thursday Claire and I start a Kindermusik class that I am excited about.  She is OBSESSED with the Baby Bum nursery rhymes on YouTube lately.  Literally, we listen to them every time we are in the car (otherwise she screams, the little dictator), and sometimes while she eats in her highchair.  I kid you not, she is starting to learn the abc’s and can count to five thanks to them.  And she has learned a ton of words too!  She is only 17 months!  Try them here.  But I warn you: I am pretty sure these songs have been etched into my brain for the rest of time- they are CONSTANTLY stuck in my head, never to be fully free of them.  Anyway, she loves music so I’m excited to see how she does in the class.  I’ll share more after Thursday.
  • I need a break.  My husband and I discussed, before we were both sick for the last month, giving me one day per week as a break from mommyhood.  Not the entire day, but enough time for me to go out and get my nails done, or run some errands kid free, or do a little shopping.  OR stay home and enjoy a quiet house while he takes Claire somewhere.  I didn’t get that this weekend, but we’ve decided next Saturday morning will be my “me time.”  I’m thinking a morning yoga class, followed by a pedicure my toes have been screaming for for over a month, and maybe a trip to the book store, as I desperately need something new to read.  Which leads me to:
  • I’m thinking about volunteering and/or getting a little weekend job.  I really want to do something and help those less fortunate, as I am acutely aware of my blessings lately (despite how much I like to complain here), and feel that because I don’t work, I need to do something that makes me feel like I contribute to society.  My husband likes to remind me that raising a child is exactly that, but I need more I think.  I also like the idea of a little Saturday job for some spending cash for me.  Hey, I like to shop.  No shame in my game.
  • Now that I am feeling myself again, I am bursting with creative ideas to turn our new house into a home.  It’s taken me 3.5 months to feel this way, mostly because I know we only will own this house for 3 years max (maybe only 2), so I don’t want to do anything major or sink a ton of money into it, but I have a long list of small projects I want to do, which will make me feel like I’ve left my mark on this house.  I’m anxious to get started and share them with you all here!  Stay tuned!

And lastly, I think I’m figuring out a narrower direction for this blog.  As much as I hate to admit it, and as much as I don’t like to talk about it (honestly, I am so much more than just a military wife), I am realizing everything about my current situation is because I am a military spouse… I know, duh, right?  I am far from home, have no family around, and am basically second priority for my husband due to the fact that the government literally owns him.  All the things I feel lately, all my worries and anxieties and frustrations are due to this one simple fact.  So maybe that’s my niche.  I blogged about it a few posts back, but all of my design ideas and repurposing of things and money spent on new things because not everything fits nicely in this house like it did the other house, etc., is due to our military lifestyle.  I am constantly reinventing our little habitat (not to mention, job, credentials, goals, etc.), which has spurred the inner creative in me but which I also constantly try to deny.  So there you (I) have it- my blog is becoming a tool for the fellow military spouse who also has to reinvent her life here and there, even if they don’t want to.  And, you know, it’s also good entertainment for you normal people whom I so envy, who get to stay in place for as long as they want.

With that, the creative juices are flowing a little faster.  I’ll be back in a day or two to extrapolate on some of my Monday Mental List.

It’s official: I’m a hermit.

I have a sneaking suspicion about my “new self” down here in the deep south… I think I’m becoming a recluse.  It’s January 20th.  Since arriving home on January 1st after a trip to Orlando with friends, my household (mainly me) has been sick on an off for three weeks.  I didn’t even want to talk about it, but yes, my husband and I are sick yet again.  It’s embarrassing at this point.  I heard that the cold and flu season this year is terrible, but now I can attest to it personally.  In all of the maladies I won’t describe here, I think I have left my house maybe 5 or 6 times in 20 days.  We are rapidly approaching recluse territory here.

I know I sound like a broken record here, but hear me out.  The scary part is I haven’t even really been that stir crazy.  Usually if I’m home too much I am scratching at the walls until I can escape, but not this time.  As I said before, where would I go?  Every time I leave my house I am reminded that I am in a new strange town, with little idea of where to go to just wander around, or when I do go outside, it stinks (literally).  I joked before I got here that I would just hole myself up inside my house and pretend I wasn’t living in Florida, and without consciously doing so, that’s what I’ve done!

In our old town (still and forever to be referred to as “home”), we had the most adorable downtown area that looked like a little European village.  It had antique shops, cute boutiques, cafes, and the best pastry shop you’ll ever visit.  And adjacent to the main street was a park, a marina and a little trail that led to a grassy park by the bay.  This grassy park had a baby swing that I would take Claire to very often when I was feeling the walls closing in on us at home.  Our routine was to put her in the stroller, stop at a cafe and grab a coffee for myself (even when money is tight, I figure if all I purchase that day is a cup of coffee then I’m still being frugal.  My logic is sound.), walk the main street and peek in the windows, then make our way through the park and to the baby swing.  Sometimes I would lay a blanket down and bring some toys and let Claire crawl around and discover the grass and the leaves, or I’d take her down to the water and dip her toes in the water.  It was the best way to spend an afternoon together, and the best part was this idyllic spot was less than ten minutes from our house.

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Downtown at home, yes it really is this quaint.
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Posting these just makes my heart hurt!
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I took this picture on a day downtown with Claire; this is the boardwalk to the park.
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One of my favorite days at the park with Claire, 9 months. I will never forget this day.

That might be one of the things I miss most about home.  There is a similar kind of place in this town, the “historical district” that does have some shops and cafes, but it is not as quaint, is about 20 minutes from our house, and let’s not forget it’s hot and muggy out.  I much prefer air conditioning to this humidity, and my hair hasn’t quite figured out how to deal with this new climate.

And so we hibernate.  Perhaps I would be more adventurous if I haven’t been continuously knocked down several pegs by being constantly sick this month.  But I feel like it’s more than my weakened immune system.  My spirit isn’t even eager to leave my house because it doesn’t quite know what to do with itself either yet.  At least at home we are around the things that make us comfortable and that feel familiar; every time we step outside, we are thrown out of our comfort zone and sense of familiarity, and we just aren’t sure what to do with that.

For all my whining, I do know it will get better with time.  I do know we will get used to things.  And I do know now that it’s ok to give in to these feelings I have right now.  If I just need to hibernate for a while until I figure out what to do with myself, then I will.  I will eventually brave the 20 minute drive to the shops and cafes that make me happy, and I will learn of some spots to take Claire to when we just need to leave the house.  And maybe the silver lining to dealing with this flu (aside from an iron clad immune system, I’m hoping), is that it has forced me to be home and to think, and rest, and recover for a while.  Perhaps it’s not such a bad thing.  My body needs to recover from illness, but I think my spirit was in need of recovery as well.  This move has been so hard on all of us.

I’m realizing that all of my posts so far have been like a weekly therapy session, when I really do have plans for projects, cooking and maybe even some weekly French lessons.  I hope anyone reading this stays tuned for those… Once I am fully recovered and have the energy, I have plans for this blog!  Aside from the free therapy sessions it offers me.  Do you have experience facing a big move in your life too?  How did you cope with it?  I would love some feedback!

Ch-ch-ch-changes 🎵

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My little southern transplant, taking a walk along the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s a weird Tuesday.  Yesterday was a holiday so my husband had the day off, and we got some things done around the house.  We finally cleared out and organized the spare bedroom (which we have been calling ‘The Room of Requirement,’ as everything we didn’t want to deal with since the move had been haphazardly piled on top of the bed), because my mother-in-law is arriving tomorrow night (joy).  My husband moved more crap from the garage to the handy dandy attic we didn’t know we had when we bought the place, so we are a little bit closer to parking both cars in the garage.  We bought a couple potted plants to decorate the back porch with, and Sean has started getting the hot tub in working condition so we might be able to enjoy it in the coming weeks.  Progress.

All these little things add up to helping us feel just a bit more settled.  Emphasis on just a bit.  Despite my insistence on being miserable still, I have had some chances to be social, including today when I met some other moms at the park.  Everyone seemed perfectly nice, but I haven’t met anyone here that I just connect with.  My friend Amber back in Washington was my best pal from the day we met at a work barbecue, and though she lives in Japan now and I live in the South, we message each other back and forth almost every day.  Friends like her are special and don’t come around super often, but I still hope to make one or two girlfriends I can just be regular old me around, without having to try too hard.

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My bestie, Amber (left).  How I miss her!

I posted this chain post on Facebook yesterday when I came across it on my Newsfeed, and I thought I’d post it here too, because it really hit home for me right now.  Though I am blessed that my husband won’t be going anywhere while we live here, we did just come from what is considered “arduous sea duty,” meaning he was gone all. the. time.  So many of the other statements ring true: we sold the couch we had since we were first married because there was no place for it in this new house, I haven’t hung a lot of curtains because they just don’t “go” where they went in our old house, I have purchased a home, sold a car, fixed a toilet, and mowed the lawn while having an infant; I left so many good friends and a stable social life, and I basically did not want to move here, but I bucked myself up somehow and followed my husband because I love him and it was the right thing for our family.  And so here we are.  So many military wives have it so much harder than I do, and I have the utmost respect for them.  But I have to recognize that my situation is hard too, and though we are blessed with enough money and creature comforts, it’s so hard to move every three years and constantly reinvent yourself.  This move has been the hardest yet, I think because we have a baby now and I really feel the desire to be settled and to establish a real life, and also because I am 31 and no longer feel like moving all the freakin’ time is some “great big adventure” like they tell you it is.  I said in an older post that I am very aware that this move coincides with a new chapter of my life, and part of that means I am starting to really understand what I want in my life, what makes me happy, and what I truly need in order to have that happiness.  And while I continue to try and adapt to my new surroundings, I’m trying to justify with my inner self where my family needs to go from here.  Deep thoughts, I tell ya.

But without further ado, here is the sentiment that hits close to home right now.

“Lots of moving. Moving…moving…moving…far from home. Moving a car, a baby and a dog. Moving sofas to basements because they won’t go in THIS house. Moving curtains that won’t fit. Moving jobs and certifications and professional development hours. Moving away from friends. Moving towards new friends. Moving her most important luggage: her trunk full of memories.
Often waiting. Waiting…waiting…waiting for housing. Waiting for orders. Waiting for deployments. Waiting for phone calls. Waiting for reunions. Waiting for the new curtains to arrive. Waiting for him to come home, for dinner…AGAIN!
They call her ‘Military Dependent’, but she knows better. She is fiercely in-dependent. She can balance a check book, handle the yard work, fix a noisy toilet, bury the family pet. She is intimately familiar with drywall anchors and toggle bolts. She can file the taxes, sell a house, buy a car, or set up a move. All with ONE Power of Attorney.
She welcomes neighbors that don’t welcome her. She reinvents her career with every PCS; locates a house in the desert, the Arctic, or the deep south. She learns to call them all ‘home’. She MAKES them all home.
Military wives are somewhat hasty. They leap into: decorating, leadership, volunteering, career alternatives, churches, and friendships. They don’t have 15 years to get to know people. Their roots are short but flexible. They plant annuals for themselves and perennials for those who come after them.
Military wives quickly learn to value each other. They connect over coffee, rely on the spouse network, accept offers of friendship and favors, and record addresses in pencil.
Military wives have a common bond: she has a husband unlike other husbands; his commitment is unique. He doesn’t have a ‘JOB’ he has a ‘MISSION’ that he can’t just decide to quit. He’s on-call for his country 24/7. But for her, he’s the most unreliable guy in town! His language is foreign: TDY PCS OPR SOS ACC BDU ACU BAR CIB TAD EPR. And so, a military wife is a translator for her family and his. She is the long-distance link to keep them informed; the glue that holds them together.
A military wife has her moments. She wants to wring his neck and refuse to move to Japan, but she pulls herself together. Give her a few days, a travel brochure, a long hot bath, a pledge to the flag, a wedding picture, and she goes. She packs. She moves. She follows.
Why? What for? How come? You may think it is because she has lost her mind. But actually it is because she has lost her heart. It was stolen from her by a man who puts duty first, who longs to deploy, who salutes the flag, and whose boots in the doorway remind her that as long as he is her military husband, she will remain his military wife. And would have it no other way.”