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!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Ouch: A Quick Way to Derail Off-putting Conversations

In my quest to be the best-est possible leadership symposium planner, I attended the 2019 Joint Women's Leadership Symposium last week here in DC. One of the lunchtime breakouts was with the authors of Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women, Brad Johnson and David Smith. Wow! Their presentation was so fabulous and they packed a lot into a short amount of time.

My biggest take away was a genius hack they shared to overcome "bystander paralysis." It's difficult when something is said in a group that crosses a line, something like, "Hey Beth (sole women in group), why don't you go get us coffee while we get the meeting started." Speaking up is awkward or uncomfortable, right? And it's an innocuous, not a big deal task. But it's not treating a group member equally, either. And if you don't speak up immediately, it's gets even more awkward.

Their recommendation? Say, "Ouch!

That gives you a couple more seconds to gather your thoughts, and put together a better response, like, "It's better if (other person) gets coffee so we can all get started." or something. This is kind of a lame example, I know, but give it a try. It sounds better than, "Wait, what?" or "Seriously?" or "WTF?" (ha!)

Monday, August 19, 2019

Lose Yourself (aka Recommended Reads)

It's been a weirdly busy month for my family, opposite of the usual late summer quiet. Diving into my kindle is how I deal with lots of travel and a busy mind, the best way I know to pass the time and relax. You could pick something from the list of this kinda famous guy, but here are some fun summer reads that I've enjoyed:

The Wedding Party is the third book I've read from Jasmine Guillory - The Wedding Date and The Proposal were just as awesome and some of the characters are connected between the three books. Her characters are lively, diverse and woke, and it's great that they reappear so I can "keep in touch."

Evvie Drake Starts Over is the first work of fiction by NPR's Linda Holmes. She is also behind one of my reliably favorite podcasts, Pop Culture Happy Hour. The story involves a widow and a baseball player, in a charming town in Maine, and it's so much deeper than that sounds.

The Kiss Quotient was such a fun story, made even better because the romantic lead is autistic, the other has a deep dark mystery in his past, and has lots of crazy characters in his large Vietnamese family. If you listen to Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, you'll recognize Helen Hoang.  She has another book, The Bride Test, with some of the same great characters, but I liked The Kiss Quotient better.

I have read everything, EVERYTHING, that Jennifer Weiner has written, and I loved her latest book, Mrs Everything. It follows two sisters from 1950s suburbia through college, marriages, kids, and SO MUCH HISTORY. It's a whole series of books in one, and I loved it. You should also check out her latest NYT column, The Abrupt End to My Big Girl Summer. A (shorter) must read.

So my one more "literary" reads this summer was Fleishman is in Trouble. You can tell it's "serious fiction" by the subdued colors, so different from the covers above. I like stories to come to a conclusion, and this one doesn't. It definitely morphs from one viewpoint to another in a surprising way. Funnily enough, it was reading the article  Stop Calling Women Nags, that has made me rethink my original opinion, so I get this book much more. 

Got any good book recommendations for me? Just...

(get this cool shirt here)