Monday, November 11, 2019

Happy Veterans Day

I am squandering time off this Veteran's Day scrolling through the many posts by friends and family in celebration and gratitude of military service. It's not hard in the United States to have a connection with someone who served - a grandparent, parent, sibling or family friend. I love seeing the pictures of them all.

Why do people serve? Since 1973, when the draft ended, the US military has been an all-volunteer force. Some come from a love a service, a desire to do more. Some volunteer as a way of finding steady work or to pay for school (that would be me). Some are in and out in a few years, and some stay. I had no plans one way or another - nothing beyond paying for school - yet I stayed for 24 years. Why? What is it about being in uniform that compelled me to stay?

It was the challenge, for sure. It was doing unusual things in unusual places to help the greater good, making the most mundane task more interesting. It was being part of a community with tight connections. And it was more than the airmen in uniform that fueled my service. It was all the unsung heroes, like the day care providers who loved on my kids, the neighbors who let the dogs out when there were long days, the Green Bean barista who provided triple espresso chai lattes at all hours in a combat zone, and most importantly, my husband and family, and my "made" family, who stepped up and filled the gaps. So many times. Countless, really.

While I am enjoying the slower pace of life as a retiree (ha! not that slow lately) I am incredibly thankful for those that continue to serve, and thankful that the best part of serving, my battle buddies, I get to keep forever.

Thursday, October 31, 2019


Imagine a world where the online smack down is so loud that it shutters businesses, and leads to in-person shout downs. Imagine a world that shames you for supporting (aka, merely following) someone online that has crossed (some) line. Not so unusual these days, but what gave me pause is that this is happening in the world of knitting. KNITTING. The world of soft fibers and home made items meant to bring warmth and coziness to your life. What is this weird world we live in?

It feels good though, doesn't it, speaking out against those that you disagree with, especially when their speech or behavior is so egregious? Like booing the President during a World Series game.

This is what a favorite writer, Jennifer Weiner, wrote about in the New York Times recently, "Why Does It Feel So Good to See Trump Booed?" "If we've got to smear and slime and meme and mock our way to victory, who will we be after we've won? When does a necessary evil become just evil?"

And much as we might try, we will never be able to insult someone into agreeing with us. No matter what the "we" "them" or subject is. (Not my thought, but heck if I can find the article I read it in :-)). This simple statement has been winding around my brain and making me really think. Does it make you think too?

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Bumpy Roads Lead to Beautiful Places

If I told you that I wasn't a sports nut, and didn't grow up in a sports crazy household, you probably wouldn't believe me. I am not a regular reader of the sports section, and don't obsessively watch sports on TV, I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of team stats. 

But going to a live event? I am all in. 

I love seeing a group of humans figuring out how to work together and battle for a win. It doesn't matter the sport or level of play - I am there for my kids teams, assorted college teams, the Olympics, World Cups and any team of pros that plays with heart and class. For our family, right now, that means the Washington Nationals. They had the WORST start in baseball, and have clawed back to win the National League pennant Tuesday night. 

Team Manager Dave Martinez summed it up best: "Often bumpy roads lead to beautiful places. And this is a beautiful place."

How can I not be all in on this team? So this is why I am behind in...everything, and am falling asleep in my cubicle this morning. My friend Missy thinks I work at the Nats Park by now, my husband and I have spent so much time there lately. I'll catch up soon, but only after the Nats win the World Series :-)

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Deployments and Connections: We Can Do Better!

(My welcome home from deployment, 2009)

My friend Missy is a force of nature, a ride or die for life! We knew of each other at first because I was the assignment officer for my career field (which Missy's husband's also belong to) and I sent him to Korea without her. So at first she didn't like me at all. But then I delivered on my promise to send them to Germany after and I was forgiven.  When we got assigned to Germany also (funny how that works :-)) we got to be real live friends. Her post is in response to this article and is a call to arms to take care of our people.  Some units are great at this, some less so, but it's a good reminder to us all. It's hard work, but so necessary.

I am only sharing this to tell you my truth. In 22 years and on our 7th deployment, I have had 0 contact with command or any military agency or program in the past 6.5 months. The military wants you to believe we have all these programs that support military families during deployments but it is hogwash. They are so dependent on programs, that they can’t see the blatant failures. The deployments where I had the most support was not because someone was told to check on me but because we had a connection. I support military spouses every day, not because I have to or because they are under our command or because I am a key spouse or because I will win an award. I do so because it is the right thing to do. I am not 100% but I do what I can. 
Here comes my truth...I reached out to MilitaryOneSource in the beginning of this deployment when I saw I was on my own. I was connected with a mental health counselor who I see periodically and she has empowered me.
I’m not sure how as a military we have gone backwards in supporting families but in my own experience and opinion, we as fellow spouses and those in leadership roles have lost touch, we lack human connection. 
22 years....7 deployments....and 0 support from an institution that says it has my back yet is the same one who has done this to me. I feel like I am in a relationship where the person says I am here for you, I got you, we are in this together but yet has abandoned me; who says one thing but does the opposite.
This is why civilian institutions and individuals are critical. If you are a church, an organization or individual you are essential to people like myself. I say dump the programs that cost millions every year and teach people to connect. I have helped churches create military ministries. Where the military fails there are good people and programs out there picking up the slack.
PS I am doing great! I really am! I may be hangry right now so I am going to go eat. 😁

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Awesome Motivation

I am a pop culture addict, and LOVE awards shows. LOVE. The outfits, the speeches, even the cringe-y moments. It takes the place of truly useful stuff stored in my brain but I am here for it.

You know what else I found at this year's Emmy's? Some awesome motivation. 

Alex Borstein won for her role in the Marvelous Mrs Maisel and had a wonderfully touching speech about her grandmother surviving the Holocaust. “My grandmother turned to a guard, she was in line to be shot into a pit, and she said, ‘What happens if I step out of line?'” she recalled. “And he said, ‘I don’t have the heart to shoot you, but somebody will.’ And she stepped out of line. And for that I am here and for that my children are here.” Wow. See a clip of her entire speech here.

Michelle Williams won for Fosse/Verdon and also had an incredible speech - I am in awe of those that are so poised. "I see this as an acknowledgment of what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feels safe enough to voice them, and respected enough that they’ll be I want to say thank you so much to FX and to Fox 21 Studios for supporting me completely and for paying me equally, because they understood that when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value, and then where do they put that value? They put it into their work." 

Amen sister. This is exactly what women are asking for in the workplace, isn't it? Value me equally and your investment in me will pay off in extraordinary work.  The transcript of the entire speech is here.

While you absorb this awesome motivation, check out this fun wrap up on the fashion. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Back to School: Podcast Recommendations for All of Us

In school, sending others to school, or thankfully removed from the process entirely, there's always time to learn something more. Here are some recent podcasts I have been enjoying...

Jen Hatmaker's current podcast series is called For the Love of Back to School and includes episodes with her college and high school (and soon middle school) aged kids. The episodes get more interesting as the kids get comfortable, so hang in there. It's an awesome tool to hear from kids themselves on the good and bad of where they are in life.

Life Kit is a new series of podcasts from NPR. Like Jen, they have a short series around particular topics. The last few have been on How to Succeed at College. They've also had a series on travel and getting out of debt that have been great.

And for your own personal school assignment, check out the Armchair Expert podcast with Dax Shepard. You would think an actor interviewing (mostly) other actors would be shallow love fests, but the conversations are much deeper and often pretty surprising. Episodes with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kal Penn, Busy Phillips and Ben Platt have been recent faves.


Friday, September 6, 2019

The Saddest Sign

I have been going to physical therapy for the last few weeks (I think the answer is "You're not 20 anymore," but we'll see if they can fix me up) and I pass this sign at a boutique-y fitness place across the street. I find it one of the saddest signs ever.

Firstly, $450? Seriously? But then I did the math, if you go 2-3 times a week for 12 weeks, that's $15-20 a class. Ok, that's reasonable.

But targeting brides and new moms - that's what makes me go UGHHHHHHH. Take two pretty momentous events in a women's life, filled with emotion and changes, and then say, "But you want to look good right? Everyone else does." I know this place is not the only one pushing this message, they just happened to fall across my path.  

It's hard to be comfortable being yourself when the world is full of products and trends and fads and celebrities telling you to be a better version, or at least, what they say is a better version. Fitness standards for women in the military, while important, are another thing that by being universal don't take into account your unique shape or where you are on the monthly cycle-kids-no kids-breast feeding-changing hormone levels-medication impacting continuum of your shape. Having my waist measured to prove my fitness for duty is the #1 thing I'm NOT missing as a retiree.

That's why I love, love, love the body positivity messages that are spreading on social media, especially by Lizzo and Jameela Jamil and long time advocate Jennifer Weiner (<----read her books!). Thanks for what you are saying dear sisters, and please keep it up!