Friday, February 21, 2014

On a Day Such As This

Some days begin with a soft kitty snuggle, a hot shower, and a slow awakening to embrace them.

This was not that day.

Some days, everyone pitches in and is where we need them to be and helps without asking.

This was not that day, either, exactly.

Some days, there are moments to sit and breathe or at least drink some water.


And I realize, quite fully, that it wasn't that day for many people around me.  Mine was not the only back to ache, mine was not the only head to be spinning, and mine were most certainly not the only nerves to feel totally frazzled by the end of the school day.

So what do I do?

After a day such as this, when my heart feels empty and a little bruised, I begin a list.  I am, as I'm sure you've seen, a list maker.

Things That Went Right!

  • A coworker offered to watch my duty station so I could get some of the delicious lunch that was provided to the school today, before it all disappeared.
  • Another coworker totally understood what I meant when I told her I was fighting off a bad mood yesterday.  Today she asked me if it was gone, and had such a grin when I told her yes, mostly.  
  • I did, in the end, get that full lunchtime break.  Such quiet heaven.
  • The majority of the people I came in contact with were patient, smiling, and understanding.
  • No one threw up in the office, despite the strange stomach bug going around.
  • Another coworker came up to help with phones and with parents during the busiest time of the day.  She did so with humor and grace.
  • Little G shared her week with me, and her rocky day as well.
  • And I got to help my Big G, something that doesn't happen as often any more.
  • The cats are healthy.
  • I have a fun evening planned with friends.
  • The weather is STUNNING.
  • We have one daffodil and one confused yellow iris growing already.

  • I had chocolate.   :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday's Ten: Things I See Differently

I actually look forward to pulling out the garbage can.

There are a lot of things that are "givens" about any time our Soldier is "away". Something will break, someone will get sick, on and on. But there are a few things that I hold onto, that give me a little bit of pleasure, when he's gone.

1. Trash Day. Since I measure extra-long "away" by the number of trash days, every time I'm out at the curb it gives me a little bit of joy.

2. Counter space. This was a real issue in previous homes, where there was precious little real estate in the bathroom. In our current home, we have double sinks. When he's away? I use 'em both.

3. Shaving in the winter. Why bother?

4. Pillows. I have LOTS of them, all over the bed. Granted, the reason I do this is so I don't stretch out across the bed at an angle that is guaranteed to kill my back, but...

5. Dinnertime. Especially with just me and Little G, dinner time is really, really simple. Meal planning? I might get a handle on it in a few months.

6. Mail time! Sometimes there is a card or a note or a simple "hello". I LOVE getting mail but during long "aways" this is extra special.

7. Hugs. Growing up, I was never that physically demonstrative with people, especially those I didn't know very well. Family, sure - but friends? People I had just met? The Army has made me a hugger. Not only does it help me when My G is away, to have that human touch, but I have noticed it helps other people.

8. Technology. I have always liked new technology. I don't necessarily need to know how something works, but I will learn how to use it when it is available to me. And when My G is gone, I enjoy how technology makes so many things easier than any previous military generation has ever had it.

9. Church. As Pastor Franks would say, "Glory!!"

10. The simple things. Stuff that works the way it should, medicine that makes us feel better, a kind word, a bright sunshiny day, the buds on the trees or the first little stabs of green coming (too soon) through the mulch. When something big is difficult, the small things become so much more important.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My One Word, 2014

We are halfway through the first month of 2014, and I hadn't even begun making a LIST of words for "My One Word".  For the last few years, I've been following My One Word and choosing, well, one word to work on for the year. What does God have in store for me? What do I need to work on this year?

Previously, I've done "Focus," "Move," and "Up."

I always do a word picture, and then save it to my phone and on my computer so it reminds me of what I need to work on.

So, why "CHOOSE"?

This blog - You Don't Choose A Life, You Live One. I've been taking part in a blogging workshop (amazing...) and one of the participants posted her blog today. She talks a little bit about a job situation that is less than ideal, and about her husband and kids and...well, it really hit home.

I've been in an uncomfortable place, work-wise, for a while now. My G's trip to Korea has loomed over our heads for months. I've felt tired and down and angry and whiny and just generally pissy.

But I don't have to be.

This week, I chose to go to the gym straight from work. You know what? I was much more able to spend time with Little G and really enjoy being home.

This week, I chose to let a few things slide and to help Little G with her own transition to "just us girls". You know what? She pitched in a LOT without me even having to ask.

Today, I CHOSE to smile when I wanted to let off some steam. I walked away, thought it over, and then I CHOSE to come back and finish the discussion and stand up for myself. You know what? The situation wasn't magically better. Nothing really got "fixed". But standing up for myself felt really good and it let the other person know that I was going to hold her to a higher standard.

In the Army, we are given very few choices. As a Facebook status reminded me this week, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit." Army families are really good at understanding this. We don't choose where we live, most of the time. We don't choose our bosses. Our Soldiers don't choose much of anything, and a lot of family members don't get to either. Sometimes we don't even choose basic things like vacations - we take our trips when our Soldiers can get leave, and that is left up to the needs (whims) of the Army.

But we can choose to be thankful for what we do have. We can choose to enjoy what we are given. We can choose to be glad for any moments of communication, rather than grumble because our communication is too brief.

I think there will be a lot of choice for me in 2014. I realize that the blog that inspired me, actually said that we are to live our lives, rather than choose them. But I believe that we live better lives when we choose our focus, when we choose to be thankful, when we choose our own outlook on whatever happens in the lives we lead.

I choose, I want to remember to choose, to light that candle instead of cursing the darkness.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday's Ten - When to Ask For Help

1. Yes, I did open my orange Crush with a wrench. I nearly asked a neighbor, but I decided I didn't want the soda that much. Plus I thought they might laugh at me but, seriously, the darn thing was stuck tight.

2. The bowl in the background was made by Little G in art class. It's a lovely, colorful, lightweight bowl made from papier mache. The flower painted inside it makes me smile.

3. I hit an emotional wall today, about a week into this thing. But it was a little bitty wall, and I stepped over it rather than tripping over or smashing into it. I consider that a "win".

4. I spent a good portion of my morning watching tiny children chase each other around my classroom while their mothers chatted, ignoring the children. This irritates me.

5. The children then gave me hugs before they left. This helps make it better.

6. I am thoroughly enjoying blogging again. It may be a huge saving grace this year.

7. During any extended "away," I am like that poor dog in "Up" - SQUIRREL!!. My thoughts jump around like drops of oil on a hot skillet.

8. All yesterday I thought it was Tuesday. I woke up thinking it was Wednesday. By Friday, I'll assume it's time for summer vacation.

9. It's getting late, but....

10. This Orange Crush tastes really good.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Man Plans, God Laughs

My dearest battle buddy began one day by asking "Where do you hope to be, five years from now?"

I'm sure I made some simple, probably sarcastic comment (sorry).  It got me thinking, though, about the future and what it might hold for me, and for my family.

I'll admit it, I'm a "Five Year Plan" failure.  I have made these plans two or three times in my life, and never have they worked out as I'd envisioned.  In fact, very little about those plans has actually come true.

The first time I made one, it was my senior year of high school and we were given the assignment amid daydreams of Prom and the scattered letters of acceptance (or rejection) from various colleges.  I knew what I wanted to do.

I'd be a recent graduate of the University of Arizona (nope).

I'd have moved from Tucson (this did happen).

I'd be a stringer for some newspaper or magazine or anything in the print media, well on my way to being the print version of Barbara Walters. It's not that I liked her super-much, but she had a unique way of bringing out people's personalities and I loved doing feature stories about people. (The closest I've come to working as a journalist was selling subscriptions to the Manhattan Mercury late at night, but I do still like to write.)

Well, life has a way of changing one's plans.  I didn't care for the way journalism was changing, even in my first semesters at the UofA.  And then My G came back from Basic Training and I could feel the stars realigning.

When Big G was nearly 7 years old, and I was finishing up my last semester at KState, they asked us to again write out our five year plan.   A little more skeptical, but excited because I was the first in my family to graduate college, I complied.

I'd be working in a community service agency, and next in line for the Directorship (nope).

I'd have my Masters' Degree, or be very close to completing it (not that either).

I didn't know where I'd be, but My G and I would still be strong and facing that future together.  (Well, yes, that was and continues to be the truth.)

So I'm a little dubious about jotting down a few lines regarding any kind of future plans.  There is a quote, though, that says something along the lines of "He who fails to plan, plans to fail."   So I'll play along.

* In five years, we will be in another state.  The house will be sold and we will be learning about a new area.

* In five years, Little G will be driving.  We will be regulars in the antacid aisle of our local pharmacy.

* In five years, Big G will be independent.  Graduated or not, she will have made, and possibly changed, her own five year plan and be truly on her way.  I put this in the plan because I know she, too, wants this.

* In five years, I will have begun, if not finished, that dratted Masters' Degree.

* In five years, Big G will have finally grabbed that retirement brass ring he has so earned, and we will have begun that new adventure.

I could write things about the amount we'd like to have in savings or the job I'd like to have or where we'd like to be.  But I've learned that this kind of planning can sometimes invite God to laugh, and laugh...   And keep laughing.   In fact, the retirement one may cause Him tremendous mirth, but I hope not and dare to write it anyway.

Mentsch tracht, Gott lacht.  Man plans, God laughs.   And maybe that's the whole point. We sometimes learn best by changing and adapting.  The most amazing things occur when we give in and simply follow.

Sometimes, we can even laugh along with Him.

Ready, Get Set...  GO.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

101 in 1001

Day Zero came up with the neatest Life List challenge, and I've been seeing it all over the place today.  Here, on a blog I'm happy to have found recently, and here, on my friend's blog where she is finding her strengths and focus. It's all over Twitter.

So what's the deal?

The challenge is to name and complete 101 tasks in 1001 days, or about 2.75 years. From the original website, the criteria is thus:

the criteria: Tasks must be specific (i.e., no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (i.e., represent some amount of work on my part).
why 1001 days?: Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple goals such as new year’s resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.
Looking up some dates, if I start my 101 tonight, I have until September 30, 2016 to do them all.  I already have a written "Life List" that incorporates some Bucket List ideas and some frivolous but fun living-in-the-now kinds of sensibilities.  The 101 fits right in, and allows me to check in more often with smaller, bite-sized tasks as well.

After I got most of these typed up, I realized I should have organized them somehow. Work, writing, personal, home, family, friends. Honestly, coming up with 101 goals was more difficult than I would have expected!

1.  Full emergency fund.
2.  New Job.
3.  Pay for Thirty One Conference with my Thirty-One business.
4.  Choose a small accent chair for the living room.
5.  Redesign my blog.
6.  Fully participate in "Blogging Made Bite-Sized".
7.  Paint the master bathroom.
8.  Mark a state off my Life List.
9.  Add 10 new things to my Life List.
10. Go to spin class 3 times.
11.  Finish Jewel Park, the book I've been writing.
12.  Volunteer for 3 different organizations.
13.  Run or run/walk a 5k.
14.  Bake bread.
15.  Get my hearing examined and aids adjusted if needed.
16.  Full physical.
17.  Make all the Christmas cards we give out that year.
18.  Make a wreath for the front door.
19.  Learn to knit.
20.  50 followers on Passages.
21.  200 Twitter followers.
22.  Visit my friend in Kentucky.
23.  Visit my friend in Louisiana and take Little G.
24.  Redo one bathroom.
25.  Go one week without eating out at all.

26.  Read all of Psalms.
27.  Read all of Proverbs.
28.  Leave a 100% tip.
29.  Take a yoga class.
30.  Movie theater fun - double feature, one day.  (Might stretch to three!)
31.  Get my passport.
32.  Test drive a car I have absolutely no intention to buy.
33.  Go three months without buying a single book, reading only the ones I already own.
34.  Totally clean out and reorganize my craft dresser.
35.  Jammie day.  Don't get dressed for anything.
36.  Write five book reviews for Amazon and blog.
37.  Write five product reviews for Amazon and blog.
38.  Find and plant a rose bush for the front of the house.
39.  Update my resume.
40.  Publish Jewel Park as an ebook.
41.  Re-learn how to crochet.
42.  Take someone out to dinner who needs a break.
43.  Fix nicks and scratches on bedroom furniture.
44.  Go through closet and get rid of things that are unloved or unlovely.
45.  Let Little G plan out a day and follow her ideas.
46.  Visit Big G in KS again.
47.  Figure out how to style this short hair.
48.  Recarpet smaller bedrooms.
49.  Paint or replace front door.
50.  Reorganize or reframe all framed photos on family wall.

51.  Hold three community classes at work. (If I have a new job, that can translate to        three community classes at the library or elsewhere.)
52.  Throw out or donate 50 of my items.
53.  Have hair professionally colored.
54.  Try contacts again.
55.  Help Big G monthly.
56.  Go for a month only buying the consumable necessities (food, gas, etc). Trades allowed.
57.  Do a web-free day.
58.  Make a list of 20 classic movies to watch.
59.  Watch the 20 classic movies.
60.  Read at least one "good for me" book off my shelves.
61.  One in, One out rule for clothing.
62.  Reorganize and clean out hall closet.
63.  Reorganize, clean out, and deep clean pantry.
64.  Buy a classic interview suit.
65.  Volunteer with an election.
66.  New plates for the kitchen.
67.  Matching silverware.
68.  Go to a karaoke bar.  Sing with a group.
69.  Do freezer meals for a week.  Try Dream Dinners. :)
70.  Replace the large posters in the living room.
71.  Hardware on the kitchen cabinets/drawers.
72.  Do a technology-free day.
73.  New chairs for the dining room.
74.  Reupholster the shoe bench.
75.  Send 365 photos to my Soldier.

76.  Blog updates every six months on this project.
77.  Set up play area in Big G's room.
78.  Learn to heat-emboss cards.
79.  Fix grout in house tile.
80.  Hold 10 Thirty One parties.
81.  See a live football game. (Bonus if it's KState)
82.  Make 20 cards to donate.
83.  Hang ladybug houses in the backyard.
84.  52 trash days.
85.  Fresh start in budget.
86.  Print another copy of "52" for the Franks'.
87.  Clean and reorganize office.
88.  Sort through books - return "borrows" and donate those I won't ever read.
89.  Use a blogging/editorial calendar.
90.  Meal plan for one month.  (Hopefully longer but one month seems doable.)
91.  Caulk kitchen sink.
92.  Choose "My One Word".
93.  Do a 52-trash-day series for blog. Perhaps incorporate the weekly savings plan.
94.  Participate in four blog linkups.
95.  Find a face regimen that works for me.
96.  Monthly "My One Word" posts.
97.  Better organize my 101 in 1001 so it makes better sense and I can track it easier.
98.  Do at least one vendor event for Thirty One.
99.  Do a fundraiser for Thirty One.
100.Learn to use all the circuit machines at the gym.

101.  Go through and write a blog post about this project after the end date - list strengths, weaknesses, and end results.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Difference Between Wanting and Ready

It's coming really close now, and we're wrapping up the last-minute things that occur before a long "away".  He has things he does around the house to make sure we're OK, and we have certain discussions that we always have before he goes.  It's not easy, but this is where "we've done this before" really helps.

I am not freaking out.

Ok, I am, but only inside and only a little bit.

One thing My G said last night really stuck with me, though, and it was something that my younger self needed to hear when we first got married, if I'd only known to ask. It's something that I think all "new" Army wives need to hear.

What he said: "Just because I am ready to go, doesn't mean I want to."

Sweet new Army wife, whether you're 20 or 40, these words are for you.
There is a huge difference between your Soldier (or Airman, or Seaman, or Marine) being ready to go on deployment, to school, to TDY, on an unaccompanied tour of any type - and wanting to leave you.

They are ready because they have trained, they have prepared, they are set to do what the country has asked of them or to fulfill the plan they've made for their career.

They are ready because they've done what they need to do in order to leave. They have orders in hand or their bags are packed or they've checked the handy checkboxes that their units have provided.

This does not mean they want to leave you.

Many servicemembers cry just as hard as their kids or their spouses when it is time to leave, but there are just as many who remain stoic. My G was one of the latter and he still is. This is his job, this is his career, and this is what he does. But it doesn't mean he wants to leave us.

Because we've been down this road so many times, we are able to joke a bit and make comments about "Good thing I won't be here" or "Whew, whole bed to myself!"  But that doesn't mean that we are eager for this separation. It doesn't mean that, if plans changed and he could turn right around and come back to us early, we wouldn't rejoice.

All it means is that he's ready.

In the grand scheme of things, "ready" is a good thing. I want him to have all the things he'll need while he's gone. I want for me to be ready, too, and have some plans and ideas for how to get through this time. "Ready" means that I have a Power of Attorney. "Ready" means that he has the training and the gear he needs to get the job done, whatever the job may be. "Ready" means that our girls know what is coming and we've spent some special time with them while we can. "Ready," in our case, means that we've had talks about budgets and house stuff and he's shown me how to program the sprinklers.

But I always remember that he'd really rather be here.