Sunday, June 17, 2018

Finding Balance - a New Take

You would think with all my rhapsodizing about summer I would be contentedly swinging in my hammock with a cool drink in a mosquito free back yard. Wrong! Any mother can tell you that summers are even harder to stay on top of things. When the kids are toddlers and young elementary school aged, usually the before and after program morphed into summer camp. Yay! But then sleep away camps and summer sports teams and other things happen.

I was over at a dear friends Friday, celebrating the last day of school with other high school mommas, and taped to her kitchen cabinet were the next two weeks schedule covering summer baseball, summer jobs, and a couple other activities. "Summers are harder," she replied calmly (because she is fantastically well organized, and one child has his driver's license :-)).

How do you do it? How do you stay sane balancing it all while still taking care of your self? How do you find balance? Everyone has an idea. There is a new book (of course) out that I read about in a Wall Street Journal article, called Pick Three. The author, Randi Zuckerberg (yes, sister of Mark) says that we should strive to be "well lopsided" rather than "well balanced." "As she sees it. there are five major areas of life - family, friends, fitness, work and sleep - and each day she has to choose just three to focus on."

This is kind of in line with a concept I learned from Mel Robbins, when she was speaking at a conference (heard on a long ago pod cast I can't find the link for). She recommended keeping a notebook where at the beginning of the day you write down everything that you need to get done - a complete brain dump. Then go back with a highlighter and highlight the things that have to get done that day, and only focus on those things first.

Both concepts advocate for choosing some, rather than trying to do all. Like right now, I am choosing to write a blog post, and ignoring the mess on the rest of my desk. And then I choose sleep to focus on for the rest of today :-)

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

They Seemed So Happy

What do you say when someone, who appears to have everything going for them, decides to take their own life? It's impossible to know, because I agree with Jenny, depression tells terrible lies. Lies that only that individual can hear. She articulates the impact of mental illness so well, you should just read what she said recently

If you are looking for help, and are affiliated with the military, you can get confidential help at Military One Source. If you are civilian or prefer greater confidentiality, another online resource is Better Help. And definitely follow Jenny on Insta and Twitter or read her books. So Awesome.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Random Wrap Up of Goodness

(Get this awesome shirt HERE)

The family celebrations are winding down (see picture below for explanation) and I can sense that the slower pace of summer (ha ha!) is around the corner. I still yearn for the sweet delight of summers off from school, don't you? Sigh. Whether you are hunkered down at work in an over air conditioned office or you've gotten a chance to escape to the pool, here are some interesting reads:

NPR had a great interview with Jas Boothe, founder of Final Salute and the Ms. Veteran America competition. She was a fantastic panelist at this years Officer Women Leadership Symposium.

Need to see a breathtaking moment of friendship? Check out this video from a Minnesota high school baseball game. "Our friendship is more important than just the silly outcome of a game. I had to make sure he knew that before we celebrated."

Good beach reads: A Gentleman in Moscow, Less, Shelter in Place, Match Making for Beginners and Just the Funny Parts. That last one has an interesting tie to Lean In you wouldn't expect.

Tired of your over air conditioned cubicle? Turn your GI Bill into a professional pilot certification with the Forces to Flyers program.

I just came across this fascinating online shop called Sword & Plough. It's run by female veteran entrepreneurs who re-purpose military supply materials and incorporate veteran employees into every stage of the business (design, sewing, management, fulfillment, sales and even modeling). Their line of jewelry made from .50 caliber brass is so cool!

So why the family celebrations? This. Proud of my girl, but my goodness, where did this poised adult come from when I was just bringing her home from Wilford Hall yesterday?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Notorious RBG and the Air Force

Lately, I have been enjoying the podcast, It's Been a Minute. The Tuesday episodes usually focus on one topic or guest. Last week's episode featured the producers of a a new documentary on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, RBG, and one of my favorite NPR commentators, Nina Totenburg.

The documentary sounds pretty amazing, but what was really cool about the podcast was a cool connection the the Air Force. One of the first supreme court cases Ruth Bader Ginsburg was part of involved a female Air Force officer. Naturally, I needed to know more. When I got a chance I googled up the case, and actually found two cases that she argued for Air Force women. 

The one mentioned in the podcast was the unequal application of dependent classification for women and men. Wives were automatically considered dependents, a necessary classification to secure medical coverage and other pay and allowances for family members. Female officers had to prove that their husbands were actually financially dependent on them (by at least 50%) in order for them to be considered a dependent. This was in 1973, and I had no idea this was the standard at that time.

The second case where RBG and the Air Force crossed paths was of a woman facing discharge because she became pregnant while on active duty. This 1970s era rule I was aware of - the options then were keep the baby and be discharged or terminate the pregnancy and stay on active duty. The captain in this case wanted to give her child up for adoption and remain on active duty. Ultimately, the court agreed with her. 

I love this line from the court's decision: "Is there any evidence that pregnancy has some effect on ability to function that is different from any other temporary physical condition? For example, is there any reason to believe that a female officer who has suffered a fractured leg is better able to perform her job than a female officer who is eight days pregnant? The former gets medical leave and retains her commission; the latter is discharged. Why? If this be rational, nothing is irrational!"

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a much beloved figure here in DC, and I look forward to seeing the documentary and learning more. You can connect to the podcast below.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Let's Celebrate All Spouses

Change is hard and slow, particularly in institutions with so many written and unwritten rules like the military. One is that the success of hard working active duty service members is often attributed to the spouse at home, sacrificing and picking up the slack for the sometimes absent service member. THIS IS SO TRUE. What isn't true is that the spouse at home is less and less likely to be a stay-at-home wife. Below is an awesome op-ed on Military Spouse Appreciation Day when your spouse doesn't fit the stereotype.  For the record, one of the best spouses groups I was part of was run by my husband's commander's husband :-)

Once again it is Military Spouse Appreciation Day and once again military husbands are overlooked, marginalized, and ostracized. Social media is swamped with poems such as The Military Wife or The Silent Ranks that laude the women who stand by their man, care for their kids, and figure out how to file taxes or read military time. The lyrics lament being left behind, being uprooted from their families, and having to move and wait for new curtains to arrive...but through it they come together as a sisterhood of solidarity and support. Which is great -- if not for the male spouses who aren't included, or verily, blatantly excluded, from such "sisterhoods." The men who either work full-time jobs in careers stunted by constant cross-country moves or Mr. Mom's judged by family and friends for choosing to take care of their kids. The men who support their wives as they deploy, go TDY, and relocate every 2-3 years. The ultimate feminists who put their wives' dreams and ambitions before their own and watch as the military and civilian support organizations ignore their sacrifices. The men who don't have a group for solidarity. It is time the military husband gets recognized for their part in propping up their women warriors, another important cog in the wheel of military might.

Spouse support groups are tailored for women, by women, and spattered with "oh, but he is welcome to join our wine and paint night!" -- an event he never received an invite to in the first place. There are rarely calls when his wife deploys asking how he is doing or volunteers dropping by to cut his grass, bring him dinner, ensure his car's oil gets changed, or watch his kids so he can have one night out with the guys. Perhaps this is because "he is a man" that can take care of himself...only what does that say about women? When groups only meet during the work day and any evening events are female-tailored activities, any men who could otherwise be involved become instant outcasts, judged for not putting forth an effort to integrate where they intrude. The need for support, human interaction, and social outlets is not unique to having two X chromosomes.  It is time spouse groups start realizing the military husband not only needs inclusion from the get-go, but also assistance and encouragement when his wife is downrange.

Socially, society has been slow to embrace or consider female warriors, so it comes as no surprise that recognizing and accepting the military husband is even further behind. As  often as female soldiers are (amusingly) snubbed when their waitress mistakenly directs a "Thank you for your service" to their bearded, scruffy husband after a Veteran's Day meal, such military appreciation days have become more inclusive of women servicemembers with advertisements featuring ladies in uniform and stereotypically-female services, such as spas, offering military benefits or discounts. But when was the last time spouse appreciation day featured a man holding a sign reading "I've waited 186 days to kiss my wife" as he holds her in his arms at the airport? Or an advertisement centered around a stereotypically-male product for spouse appreciation? Much of this revolves around the civilian sector remaining widely uninformed regarding the military and rigors of military service, but such promotions are coordinated in large part by organizations, such as the USO, that ought to know better. It is time society acknowledges the sacrifices and celebrates the commitment of male spouses.

Now, one can understand that spouse groups and communities cater to the masses, and historically the masses have been stay-at-home wives. But there is a growing contingent of spouses who are men, working women, LGBTQ, and dual-military couples; each of these groups deserves to be duly recognized and supported. Over 210,000 women and an estimated 70,000 LGBT persons are in the military service, and over 90,000 members have mil-to-mil marriages, meaning roughly 20% of military members likely don't have spouses or significant others that fit the mold of the traditional military wife. In order to eschew archaic stereotypes, perceptions, and biases of the communities we live in, we need to have dialogue discussing such topics as the lack of support for military husbands. There are still problems that affect military wives, and there are many individuals who do their best to include the male spouses in their unit, but acknowledging military husbands have less support, less recognition, and less celebration does not diminish these other considerations. Therefore, on a day for spouses where wives are applauded for their sacrifices on the home front and husbands are largely overlooked, we can spare to discuss the difficulties unique to male spouses.

It is time we have this conversation. 

- Amanda Rebhi
(see the original article HERE)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Pardon the Interruption

Hey all - just realized that it's been a couple weeks since I posted. I have a guest post in the hopper as well as a couple other thoughts (I'm always full of thoughts!). But these last few weeks of school, particularly with a high school senior, has been a bit busier than usual (and I'm not even the one taking the tests and finishing the projects).

For everyone facing big transitions this summer - a summer move, a graduation, a transition at work, or a transition of any kind, hang in there. Enjoy the good parts, relax when you can, and keep the beer fridge/wine rack full. At least, that's my mantra :-).

More soon!

P.S. - on the admin side - I just opened a Gals In Blue instagram account. Feel free to follow and send me your pictures and fun quotes to post at! Click the link up on the right.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

You Can Have It All (But Not At the Same Time)

Last week I attended the always awesome Officer Women Leadership Symposium, hosted by Academy Women. Over the last few years I have become involved in putting on the event, and I enjoy it so much. It always gives me a chance to see old friends, make some new friends, and get inspired by the wonderful speakers and panels.

During one of the discussions, a panelist said, "You can have it all, just not all at the same time." Interesting thought. isn't it? When we say to women they should strive for "having it all," it's often a zero sum game. Either you are a super human who can do it all or you are failing. And the "all" is so different from person to person, even though we like to put women into strict categories like career-focused, working-mom, or stay-at-home-mom. We smirk to ourselves when the super fit, well dressed woman walks into the meeting or the PTA coffee looking effortlessly put together and on top of her game. (Maybe that's just me, the one running in late, disheveled, with coffee splashed on her blouse.)  

"You can have it all, just not all at the same time" keeps repeating itself over and over in my mind, and brings a tremendous amount of comfort and joy. Comfort, because stuff falls off of my plate all the time, even on my best days. And joy, because I see now with the perspective of some (ahem) years, that I get to pick what "all" means to me, and can change the definition any time I want to.