The Family

The Family

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Time Travel

There are moments in my life as a military spouse where I am blindsided by the rapid changing scenery of my friendships. I was blessed to spend the 2013 Panther football season with the three dedicated football moms pictured in the photo above. However, today as Zachary and I prepare for the 2014 football season to begin tomorrow the sad lonely truth is that none of these amazing women are no longer physically here on Guam with me.

As military families we are blessed to form quick, solid relationships with those who, with the reality of the pun, are in the same boat. We are thousands of miles away from our friends and families, and we often form relationships quickly with those who have the same interests as us, in this case it was football. Our boys were instantly banned into a unique band of brothers at a DODEA high school, a place where every student is the new student, and everyone understands the struggle of moving and having to make new friends.

These three women and I worked to make sure the boys were fed, had rides to where they needed to go, and sat in the stands at each game. We were the constants at the games, the ones always present. Sometimes our husbands were there, sometimes they were not, but we were there. When I look at this photo I experience so many emotions. Thankfulness for the gift of friendship, happy that I had some great women to share the milestones of my high school students with, grateful for the laughter, and sad that they will be present at each game this season in spirit only.

As much as I will miss these wonderful women and the family we created, I know based on experience, that I will be blessed with new friendships this season. New bonds will be formed and I will treasure the new friendships as much as the old. For this is the way of the military spouse. We build new friendships all while treasuring the old. We sacrifice greatly as we say goodbye to friends when we leave, or they leave. However, the enormous blessings of the numerous friendships were are fortunate enough to have far out weigh the many good byes we experience.

I am sure I will look back in a year and be able to share photos and memories of the new amazing friendships I was blessed with all within a short 365 days.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pier Dates

As my husband and I sat in the car on the pier having lunch one day this week, he made the comment that my next blog should be about pier dates. For those of you who have never been associated with the Navy you are thinking what in the world is a pier date?  Those associated with the Navy are saying, "I know exactly what she is talking about!"

After I left him on the pier to board that submarine and take her out of the harbor, I began to think of the role the pier has played in my life.  For twenty five years I have had a love hate relationship with the pier, for you see the pier symbolizes either homecoming or departure, and back in the day duty days.  The pier is either taking your husband away or returning him to you, in the case of duty days lending him to you for a moment,

Homecomings have the piers decked out in bands, decorations, festivities, news crews, and smiling families all waiting to welcome the vessel and crew back home.  Departures bring tears and the complete void of any festivities or hoopla. However, both bring a sense of anticipation.  Departures for the submarine and her crew bring about the anticipation of finally getting to get out to sea and do what they do, for the families (or at least myself) it brings about the anticipation of the good bye being over so that I can look forward to the homecoming. Homecoming brings the obvious anticipation of returning home. 

I have also spent countless hours waiting on the pier, because the reality of homecoming on a sub is that no one is going home right away.  There are things we don't talk about that need to be taken care of, trash that needs to be offloaded, mail that needs to be taken off the boat and more that needs to be brought on, telephone lines that need to be connected, the mooring lines that need to be secured, and power that needs to be connected.  This means that the families have several choices.  In Hawaii when the kids were younger I would let them stay on the pier for a short time after the boat returned and then I would take then back to the car, give them a snack and pop a movie in while we waited.  In Guam the kids rarely go to the pier with me so I either stick around and chit chat or go home, because the house is literally three minutes away.

And then there are the actual dates you have on the pier.  My husband has not stood duty on a submarine in probably 6 years, but back in the day when he did I would pack all the kids in the car and take dad dinner on the pier.  Back then there wasn't a lot of conversation going on other than, "Joshua get away from the edge, Zachary don't climb on that, Brittany leave your sister alone, Becca don't touch that."  Now however, when they are preparing to leave on mission I leave work, go buy us lunch, and drive down the pier to have lunch with my husband.  Sometimes it’s raining, sometimes it’s hotter than hades, but we still in the car on the pier and have our last meal together before he leaves.  We talk about our plans for the underway, the things that matter to us, and make peace with the departure.  

My husband constantly reminds me that the civilian world really has no concept of the life we lead, and he's not talking about the sacrifices we make but the difference that something like a pier makes in our life, when in theirs in plays no part and probably never crosses their minds.  In contrast the pier plays a major role in our lives, the huge chunk of cement is the center of our world.  My time with the pier is coming to an end and as we approach then end of our last sea tour I am having a hard time picturing my life without it.  While we look forward to our retirement from the Navy, we also realize that we will be leaving behind a lifestyle that very few have experienced and will understand. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Competing Opinions

I have been struggling with something for some time, something that seems to be present everywhere I go...opinions.  Now I am not saying opinions are a bad thing, because we all are entitled to them and we all have them,  I am referring to how people share them and the violent manner in which some people respond when they react to opinions they don't agree with.

 I think in a time and age that opinions can be shared with the entire world on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs like mine there needs to be some consideration given to how one presents their opinion.  Through out the day I hear and see people share their opinions, I have found some that are eloquent and open minded when sharing their opinion and then there are others who seem to be under the misguided impression that their opinion should be the only opinion for everybody.  These people present their opinions in a manner that dares anyone to disagree with them, under the impression that theirs is the only opinion acceptable.  These opinions often include , but are not limited to breastfeeding, where to live, what car everyone should drive, the best diet, diet-life choices, exercise, what cell phone carrier is the best, when the board results came out last year, Navy regulations, life choices, and the list goes on and one.

We all know the saying about opinions and how they are like something else everyone else has...but in reality we all have one.  Where this opinion comes from is unique for each and every person. Our upbringing, our past, our morals, our values, what we personally are committed to, and knowledge all contribute to the formation of our opinion.  Looking at opinions is like looking at snowflakes, they are all unique.  So, when sharing yours know that it is YOURS and may be YOURS ALONE.  shoving your life choices or opinions on others is like trying to make your finger print match some else's.  

I have come to a point where I tend to keep my opinion to myself on Facebook and other social media.  I have seen someone ask a simple question like, "Where is the best place on island to get your hair colored?" and have it turn into an all out drama, filled with warring opinions.  First of all, who has the energy to fight with strangers over the best place to get your hair colored, and second of all, everyone's hair is different so what may work for you may not work for me.  My former stylist in Hawaii was like a sister to me, and when I moved to Guam I was not looking for a stylist who wanted to chat and talk while she did my hair because I was not looking for someone to replace her, I wasn't looking for a friend, I just needed someone competent to do my hair. Maybe you are the person who likes to chit chat while you get your hair done, which would make our opinions...GASP...different!

Additionally, as we experience life we often form opinions based on experience and lessons learned.  For example, a new Navy wife is going to have a much different opinion than that of a 26 year Master Chief’s wife.  The Master Chief’s wife has experienced much more than the new Navy wife, and has formed opinions based on those experiences.  Another factor is there is most likely a generation between the Master Chief’s wife and the new Navy wife, which will give them  different perspectives in shaping their opinions.  Is either of them right or wrong?  They are both right ! I know, I know some of you over opinionated people out there can’t handle two people being right, at the same time, about the same thing. However, they are both right because they are forming their opinions based on personal experience and knowledge.  The key to harmony is each of them respecting the others individual opinion.

Living in a military community cannot be experienced anywhere else in the world.  You are bringing thousands of people at different stages of their career and life, from different parts of the world, with different family backgrounds and upbringings, and different education levels and experiences together, inside a gate under often-stressful situations.  All of us need to learn to respect the value of each other’s opinions and take into account the things that make up our differences.

We are entitled to our opinions, but remember if you are entitled to yours, someone else is also entitled to theirs.  Let’s use some maturity and grace when sharing or listening to each other’s opinions.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Keep Your Life in Perspective People!

At age 4 success is not peeing in your pants.
 At age 12 success is having friends 
 At age 16 success is having a drivers license.
 At age 20 success is having sex.
 At age 35 success is having money. 
 At age 50 success is having money. 
 At age 60 success is having sex. 
 At age 75 success is having friends.
 At age 70 success is having a drivers license. 
 At age 80 success is not peeing in your pants.

I had one heck of a week!  From crazy work hours because of the Month of the Military Child, an FRG meeting, working all day Saturday, a formal event last night, and the normal craziness that comes with having a deployed husband and two teenage boys, and two daughters in college!

But as all of it kept rolling straight at me like a freight train and I fought to keep the balance, one thought remained a constant.  It was..."In five years will this matter to me?"  

In five years will the last minute tasker, or the crazy response from the powers that be in Tennessee really matter to me?  Will the frustration raised over wording in the FRG committee guidelines really matter to me?  Will the messy living room, kitchen, and every other room in the house due to spring break really matter to me?  Will the lack of email from the boat, and the schedule changes really matter to me? 

I am going to go out on a limb and say, that no they will not matter to me.  I am sure I was frustrated about something five years ago, and knowing myself back then I am sure I was passionate about that something.  However, since my mom passed away, two of my daughters have gone off to college, and we have moved to Guam I have realized that some of the things that frustrate us, sap our energy, and we give the power to take away the joy of living in the moment really don't deserve all the attention we give them. 

While in the moment these things frustrate us, but do they really deserve all the attention that we give them?  Most likely not, and they may be taking attention away from the good things in life that will matter to you in five years like, your family, your health, your friendships, your own personal goals, and your peace of mind.

I am trying to find a place in life where I can address the situation as it is before me, deal with it and move on.  And when I say move on I mean, let it go, give it no more power, and treat all those involved with respect. 

So I ask you to join me in this journey of hanging on to those things that will matter in five years and letting go of the things that won't!  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Gold Star Spouse Day

For those of you who don’t know it today is Gold Star Spouse day, a day set aside to remember the widows and widowers of fallen service members. A day set aside to respect their strength, their commitment, and their sacrifice. Let me stop right there at that word sacrifice. According to the dictionary the definition of sacrifice is as follows, “Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.” These fellow spouses have given up something highly valued to them, the lives of those that they vowed to love, honor and cherish for something that they and their spouse had a covenant agreement held a greater value than they themselves…America’s rights and freedoms.

 Please let me take a moment to tell you what was never in their covenant agreement. It was not their agreement for them to sacrifice for the nonsense I see and hear everyday, from their fellow military spouses, those who should honor and respect their sacrifice. They did not agree to live without the love of their life so that spouses can complain about the gate being backed up because the gate guards are being vigilant and protecting our families. They did not sacrifice so that their peers could complain endlessly about the FRG or the Ombudsman, or the Command Support Team. They did not sacrifice so that their peers could go on and on about how there is no hourly care at the CDC because the spaces are all filled with children whose parents are active duty and their spouses who work. They did not sacrifice so that their peers could complain about the movie selection at the base movie theater.

 No these are not the reasons our fellow brothers and sisters sacrificed it all and it makes me boil with anger that some people feel it is ok to complain and act as if the above mentioned items are a great sacrifice. Now don’t get me wrong it is perfectly acceptable to be frustrated with these situations. However, we must remember and keep in perspective that the above issues and similar issues are small sacrifices or inconveniences when compared to the sacrifices the Gold Star Spouses have made. NOT ONE of us would want to walk in their shoes. And as anyone who has lost a loved one knows, losing someone you love makes all of the unimportant things in life disappear. So, I am asking you that you seriously consider your actions and think to yourself, “Is the way I live my life and carry myself honoring these families who have given it all?”

 I am not asking you to give up your opinion or the things that are important to you, what I am asking is that you realize that there are greater sacrifices in the world than not getting to see the movie you want on base. To my brothers and sisters who have sacrificed it all, I want to thank you for the love you have for your spouse and the commitment you have to them to stand by their side in this life time commitment to their service.