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The Family

The Family

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Be Thankful and Don't Sweat the Small Stuff!

Today is Thanksgiving in Guam and I made sure to get up early enough that I would have time for a quiet cup of coffee and time to blog. I'm not really sure what will flow from my caffein jump started mind through my fingers today, but I knew without a doubt I am being nudged to write today. This is not my first holiday away from family, as my husband has been active duty for over 23 years and we spent 22 of those years stationed in Hawaii. It is however, my second Thanksgiving without my mom to call and ask about baking a turkey, which to be honest maybe a little more difficult that the first because a year ago I was still in shock from her passing. I think the hardest thing for me this year will be it is the first time one of my children is not with me for the holiday's...yup that's going to be the hardest thing. These two items complied with the fact that there was a tragedy yesterday in the community we lived in while in Hawaii, involving children my own children went to school with, one of which I taught his sister and brother has given me so perspective on this Thanksgiving Day. This past year loosing my mom and moving to Guam has taught me some very valuable lessons. The first being not to sweat the small stuff. But in order to not sweat the small stuff you have to remember that its small stuff. I am going to dive deep (pun most certainly intended) and talk about being a submariners wife today:-) While it is something I enjoy being and has become part of who I am, there have been (and still are) days I wonder first if I will maintain my sanity, and second why life can't be fair:-) As I ponder what to write the thought that I should buy every wife on board a dry erase calendar so that she can rearrange and erase what she writes in those little squares a hundred times and still give off the appearance of order:-) The schedule on any submarine is at best fluid (pun not intended) Its hard to nail down and shifts constantly. However, as this is our second tour on the mighty Chicago I can say hers is down right flowing like the ocean she serves in. I could lie and say it does not frustrate me, but I won't:-) I have however learned to live at peace with it, and not sweat the small stuff. After all, this means I get surprise homecomings and a peace in knowing my husband has a job he finds rewarding which pays the bills:-) Then there is the whole Guam thing! After 22 years in Hawaii, Guam was not on my radar, Connecticut or Washington sure...Guam...not so much. I could be angry, frustrated, and in a state of discontent (which I have to admit occasionally happens when I can't find something I am looking for here and have to search the internet to find someone who will ship it to Guam) But when I look at the big picture it's really one of the small things in life, that is reaping benefits for my family. My younger two are being given opportunities they would not have had somewhere else. They have both traveled to Japan to participate in DOD school sports competitions, trips where we were only responsible for minimal lodging expenses and spending money. The DOD school system is amazing and provides excellent education and opportunities. They have met friends and people that have become important the them. Me the stress level at my job is so low compared to what it was in Hawaii (and they are paying me the same!!!) that I feel like I am on vacation. Because we are not living in our house in Hawaii, but renting it someone else is paying my mortgage and I am not paying a $600 electric bill. Additionally, because we save so much money living in quarters when we leave Guam we will have paid off both brand new cars and my student loans. My husband has a job, that pays very well and benefits that are out of this world, where many in America are looking for jobs. Above all of this my family is alive, healthy, and has a great relationship. This goes for my immediate family here in Guam and Hawaii, but my Dad, brother, sisters, and their families, as well. My husband says my family gets along so well we are abnormal. This is a gift in todays world. So my submarine sisters, if your husband has to go into the boat today, has duty today, or is deployed, while it sucks...and it does...in the big picture....its one of the things we would call small stuff. Don't think I don't understand because I do...at this moment there is a conversation my husband is having on his cell phone that is making me question whether he will be present at our family dinner today...so I get it. But in the big picture of life this moment today of being separated, or being stationed in Guam really is one of the small things that you or I should not sweat. Because when you look at the big picture you are healthy, your family is healthy, we have a blessed life in the submarine community, and this moment too shall one day be a memory. So I have convinced myself, and ask you to do the same that no matter what seems to be a huge disappointment today, like my daughter not being here, really is one of the small things that I should not sweat, but instead I should enjoy the gift of being able to be with my husband and other three children and our boat family today. In perspective we don't know what tomorrow holds, so don't live life today in a manner which will cause you the regret it tomorrow. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff....after all Kelly Clarkson says whatever doesn't kill us will make us stronger:-) Happy Thanksgiving my sisters!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Encouragement

I borrowed the following story from the MCPON Michael Stevens Facebook page
Please enjoy this wonderful personal story from Chief Arnold. Thank you for sharing Chief. -- MC2 ROSPRIM I don’t typically post about Naval matters, and I may never again, but today I had to share as it has consumed my thoughts all day. About 8 hours ago I rushed into the commissary on-board Newport to get a few items and realized I had forgotten my wallet at check out. I hurried out the door to retrieve it and as I exited I observed the crisp new Ensign and his family getting out of their crowded old car as they had clearly just left OCS graduation. I contemplated the obstacle and considered taking the long way around to my Jeep and then thought, ”oh, hell just go past and give him his salute, he’ll probably love it as he has probably had all of 3 since commissioned”. I approached and rendered one of my finest salutes to set a good example for this new young Naval Officer. He was kind of at an awkward angle and I said proudly, “good afternoon sir”. He fumbled clumsily around, returned my salute and stated, “good afternoon Sir!” I laughed a little on the inside and thought, “Sir? It’s ok, he’ll figure it out”. As I moved toward my Jeep I could feel him advancing me from behind, I hadn’t covered much distance and his family was still close enough to us to hear our conversation. He walked up to me with a sense of pride in his smile that I didn’t think existed much anymore and stuck his hand out. I shook his hand and he handed me a One Dollar coin, at this point I realized what was happening. I thought, “this is great, but I wish it had been a junior Sailor so they could have experienced this moment”. He said, “Chief, I graduated OCS today and you gave me my first salute”. For a moment time seemed to stand still and I really began to absorb some of the finer details. I looked at the car they were crammed into and it wasn’t worth much. I looked at the clothes his family wore and they were far from designer quality. I smelled not a hint of arrogance or self-entitlement. No, what his family was was a strong foundation and humble. I imagined that they probably never had much and that his mother probably struggled to raise these kids and put this young man through college. I thought they probably didn’t have much money, but they were not going to miss this special day for anything. As things came back into focus he said, “I’m very proud” and I said to him, “I’m very proud of you”. I was no longer in a rush and as a symbol of respect I put my hands behind my back in that way that we do to show him that he is the superior and that even though I’m the Chief he’s the Naval Officer and this is the way it is. This young man exuded humility, respect, and a rooted sense of humble that spoke volumes of who he was and the type of officer he is probably going to be. I was in my most professional posture and a heightened sense of articulation flowed naturally. I told his mother she should be very proud of him and she nodded her head as if almost speechless to what she felt inside. Her and I exchanged a look and her eyes said thank you almost as if she understood I could have owned the situation as the old salt but I let him have this moment as his own. He thanked me and I looked him right in the eyes and said, “no, thank you Ensign. You may not realize it now or even understand it, but this moment is one of the best in my 19 year Navy career”. He looked at me a little confused and I said, “the look in your eyes right now tells me everything I need to know about you and the sense of pride you demeanor projects gives me hope that our Navy is in good hands with officers like you and this coin will be in my shadow box when I retire”. If I had a camera for the look on his face. Oddly, I think he understood. And I don’t think he’ll ever forget… Why is Jamis Chief Arnold sharing this? Because it is in these critical infancy moments of a young Sailors career every moment counts. If my demeanor or professionalism had said to him ahhhh what ever or a shrug off waste of time, my actions could have changed the dynamics of his whole career. Officers relationships with enlisted Sailors is dictated by our actions in every moment. Sure, I could have said said, “Ensign, I’m a Chief and work for a living so don’t call me Sir” in any tone I wanted I wanted to use, but what lesson does he really learn from that? None. I would have stolen his moment, cheated him out of his first salute and showed his family the professionalism the Navy “really” has. Worst case scenario, he carried his grudge into his senior officer years for that one moment and it creates a difficult working environment when you are trying to lead your junior Sailors. The ball is always in your court, set the right example.
We should all strive to treat those we have been charged to mentor with such respect and encouragement. As Navy spouses, particularly Submarine spouses, we have a very small tight knit community, as I have often said that what is the real world six degrees of separation is more like one and half degrees of separation in the sub world. As we begin our journey as a Navy spouse, we often look to those who have been in the community longer than we have for clues on this lifestyle and how to manage it, as we get some more time under our belt we become those who the new spouses are looking at for guidance. I think we should all strive to celebrate each other regardless of rank in those achievements that we all held in high regard at that stage of life. We should celebrate with the spouse who is excited because her husband got his Dolphins, even though it was many moons ago that our spouses got their dolphins. As those spouses who we mentor sailors get promoted and add that crow and more stripes, we should celebrate them and go out of our way to encourage them. You should never forget where you came from and the work it took to get you where you are today. You should never slight or minimize their accomplishments, as they were once yours. Instead seek to congratulate, support,and encourage those you are called to mentor. It could make a greater impact than you think. HONORCOURAGECOMMITMENT

Happy Veterans Day

Today is Friday, the first day of a holiday weekend that holiday being Veteran's Day. While many are excited about the three day weekend (and I have to admit I am grateful for the time off) several things happened today that made me stop and take a look at the lifestyle which I am privileged to lead. I was off of work today so I had the morning to cruise around on Facebook. Deciding that it was fitting of the Veteran's Day weekend to post several pictures of my husband and his past and present shipmates, brothers, and friends I got to work. As I posted the pictures of him in his uniform with people who are near and dear to our hearts I ran across the pictures from his last re-enlistment in Hawaii. For this particular re-enlistment site my husband chose the Chief's Quarters of the USS Missouri in honor of my father who was visiting. He also asked my Dad to hold the Bible while he was being sworn in. As I looked at the pictures and the emotions on my Dad's face I was stuck with the thought that the things that may have become the norm for me as a military spouse are quite often amazing to those who do not live this lifestyle every day. Next, I went to a Barbecue on the pier for the boat. It wasn't the food that was the draw or the rainy weather, but the photo we had taken for a project that we are working on. It was a photo of the crew and their families holding the USS Chicago brow banner. How many people have the privilege of being on the pier standing next to a submarine, never mind have their photo taken? Finally, as I was watching a movie this afternoon I began to hear the horns of the boats in the Harbor welcoming the USS Key West home, as they entered the harbor on the last stretch of their change of homeport to Guam. My house is so close to the pier not only could I hear the horns, but I could hear the cheers of the families on the pier as they saw her come into sight. The horns usually get my tears flowing, but those cheers did me in this afternoon. Back when my husband was an E-3 we used to call those who had been in forever Dig-its...because they really dug being in the Navy. I have officially become a Dig-it. I am blessed to be a part of such an amazing community, and I have the privilege of being a part of some amazing traditions and ceremonies. However, these traditions and ceremonies are symbolic of the sacrifices and trials of those who have gone before us and are being carried on by the current generation of leaders to be passed on to those who will follow us. Let us reflect this weekend on those sacrifices and the privileged life we lead. HONORCOURAGECOMMITMENT