2 years in

I’m going to skip the recap of my procrastination cycle that I continue to get myself in with writing this blog and just jump in to today’s post, in which I feel ready to catch up to more current events because I finally, after 9 months, feel like I’ve adjusted to our most recent military change.  I mentioned a few posts back that I (and we) have been really frustrated with military stuff for awhile now.  The long and short of it started with D finishing flight school and it finally feels like it has ended with hot, sticky boredom but peace in little old Meridian, Mississippi.  I’ll share a little of our journey with this transition although a lot of the more personal bits have been left out.

It all started with D’s selection, which is what happens when they finish primary flight training and are selected to fly a specific air craft.  For Navy guys, the options for platforms are Maritime(P3s and P8s), Rotary(helicopters), Jets, or E2-C2. At the end of training, they have the guys fill out a “dream sheet” where they rank their top 3 choices. This is a step in what I now realize is the Navy’s cruel trick of making you think you have a choice, when in reality you don’t. Maybe we were naive to forget that military life means hanging up your free will for the “needs of the Navy.” But the students are encouraged to do the best they can and given the impression that if they do well in flight school that they will get their top choice. Maybe this is true for some but we are now no longer naive to think that there are any absolutes.

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Each squadron does their selection differently, but D’s basically had the guys line up at the squadron bar with family and friends around. Each student had three chips in a cup that each had a platform on it. They’d toast someone and then pull out a chip and read it. The CO would then look at the list and tell them yes or no if they were assigned to it. My husband already has two helicopters licenses, got the best score that week and 60% of the Navy pilots fly helicopters, so I think we weren’t the only ones assuming that he would get his first choice of rotary. Three chips in the cup, so if you got two no’s, then you knew the third one was a yes and your platform, right? Well, D got a no for e2/c2, a no for maritime, and then pulled out a rotary chip. Sigh of relief. Rotary means D gets to fly what he wants, we stay in Pensacola, and he’ll wing in a mere 6 months. The CO looks down at his bind and then says um, no. They steal his cup and put another chip in it. Whoops they say – jets it is. I think we both spent the next hour thinking “what just happened?” Not only did we get jets, we also were getting sent to Meridian, MS rather than Kingsville, TX which D had requested. In 3 weeks.

I won’t go into all the details of why this was difficult for us, but it wasn’t made any easier by people who didn’t get why anyone would be anything but super ecstatic to fly jets or to be a fighter pilot’s wife and didn’t understand the significant of how this would impact our current life and future. This was a major adjustment for us to wrap our heads around in addition to everything that came with it – We ended up living apart for 7 months as I commuted back and forth to my business and our home in Pensacola. D’s training started very slow and he seemed to be scheduled for duty every time I came for a visit. Then training stopped altogether due to issues with the oxygen system in the training jets. (If you think it’s difficult for a military wife to deal with the idea that her husband could die in battle, try wrapping your brain around the idea that your husband’s own plane could poison him.)  Meridian was smaller than any town we’d ever lived in, and to make things worse, everyone we knew was either staying in Pensacola or going to Texas.

But here we are. A lot of problems or questions or fears that have come with this transition have not been solved, answered, or soothed. But I’m finally feeling on a regular basis like things are okay. Maybe its time, maybe its perspective, whatever it is, I like feeling this way. And I actually feel like I’ve learned a few things along the way, and maybe you’ve been here too if you’re a navy wife.

1. It is not up to you. I’d heard it a million times, you read about it, you hear it constantly.  The military doesn’t care about what is best for you, it’s whats best for the Navy. You know that when you join this group, you sacrifice.  But I don’t think you can fully understand what that means to give up your freedom of choice until you’re going through it.  I don’t know why the Navy asks us or why we keep asking each other where we want to live or what we want for our future.  Feel free not to ask me, because honestly I’d rather not make a decision that is not really mine to make.

2.  You can be happy, but it’s okay if it takes time.  Moving is hard.  Moving to the deep south when you grew up a yankee is hard.  Moving to a tiny town where the nearest Target is 90 minutes away is hard.  Leaving your first home is hard.  Leaving your job or business you built is hard.  Finding a job or creating a new one is hard.  Making new friends is hard.  Saying goodbye to friends is hard.  Doing all this when your husbands dreams were just dashed is hard.  I don’t think pressuring myself to be happy about this move made me any happier.  I’m okay that its taken me a long time.

3.  Sometimes it takes a lot of work to be happy.  A trip to Starbucks, a walk through Anthropologie or Target, a few minutes on my back porch, a morning on the beach, an evening in my garden – all these were effortless happiness for me.  None of those things exist in Meridian, so I can either be unhappy or work for it.  I will go anywhere and try anything here because there just isn’t that much to do.  Make new friends, make a new beautiful home, make new hobbies and new memories.  That may take effort and work, especially in a small town, but its worth it.

4.  Go outside your comfort zone.  I grew up outside Philly and stepped with my girlfriends during recess and I now own three horses, wear cowboy boots on a regular basis, and actually crave pork skins now and then.  I don’t like leaving a/c if its over 80, but I’ve spent most of the summer dirty and sweaty on our friends’ muggy farm with horses pigs and a cow named Einstein.  I bake pies and go to antique shops and rodeos.  Not because these things are me, but because I want to be happy where I am, and for now that’s the deep south which is not my comfort zone. (I actually told D when we were moving to Florida that I didn’t even want to drive across Mississippi and jokes on me, we live here).  And we’ll probably be here for quite some time, so I will continue to do everything I can to make my uncomfortable zone as comfy and cozy as can be.  And you know what? I really do love pie.

5.  Advocate for yourself.  Michelle Obama may have convinced you that military spouses will be taken care of but the reality in this country is far from policy.  I said awhile back that military spouses are awesome and the truth is, we are a giant ball of awesomeness that is a majorly untapped resource.  I wish every military wife knew how awesome she was and wasn’t afraid to demand that people pay attention to that rather than just brush her under the rug.  It is not easy and I think at times we will feel absolutely defeated.  But don’t let the defeat take over, keep fighting for whatever it is that you deserve whether its a job, a home, a license, or something for your family.

6.  Try not to make comparisons.  It really felt for awhile and there continue to be things that make me feel like we are getting the short end of the stick.  But there’s always going to someone who has it worse and someone who has it better.  Comparing either way rarely makes us feel good.  There’s no set path of what D’s military career will look like and chances are it will be different than our friends.  I’m trying to focus on our own path.

7. Pie. It’s all I can think about now.

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Happy late 4th of July!

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One goal I will not be crossing off my list this year as accomplished is blogging every week.  Oh well- such is life!  I can’t believe summer is almost half over already. We’ve been trying not to melt in the Florida heat, but enjoying the beaches and paddleboarding and motorcycle rides.  Yes, D bought a motorcycle. I think we both picture this:

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Even though we look more like this:

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D is still in the first phase of primary, he’s done lots of simulator flights and about 5 actual flights in the T-6B.  The crazy summer thunderstorms make it tough for him to consistently fly but the simulator is always ready!  His training wing had a spouse orientation the other week and I got to do a short flight in the simulator, it was pretty fun but I think the Navy should keep me out of their aircraft unless someone else can land it.  Here I am flying over Pensacola.  In a skirt.  Which made it impossible to eject before my crash landing on the runway.

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I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since D commissioned as an officer.  I was reminiscing the other day and thought of just a few things I’ve learned in my first year of being a Navy wife I would want other new spouses to know.

1. It’s hard being away from D, but I don’t have to be miserable. Yes, it sucked being thousands of miles away from my husband when he was at OCS and not being able to talk to him. Yes I hated that the only thing I had to snuggle at night was a pillow with a sweatshirt on it. Yes I spent a few nights sitting at the bottom of my shower crying because I missed a phone call and no way to call D back. But most of the time I had a great time doing lots of fun things – learning to run, yoga classes, girl time, sunbathing poolside, eating breakfasts for dinner – a lot of things that D doesn’t really like.  Being apart is a reality in the military, so if you don’t want to hate it, make a plan not to.

2.  Work is important to me, at least for now.  I’ll admit, I was sad to leave my practice in Oregon, but pretty excited about having some time off of work during the process of moving.  I didn’t realize until after I started working again, however, how difficult it would be for me to not have the confidence I get from working and how strange it would be to go from being financially self-reliant to completely reliant on D.  And I think I was a little bit more of an emotional mess than I wanted to be not working.  The reality of being a military spouse is that your career becomes secondary to your spouse (unless you don’t mind choosing not to live together) – this is harder for some than others, but figure out how you feel about it and do what you can to make the best of it when you can’t have what you want.

3.  Military life is constant change and unpredictability.  Not only do we have no clue where we’ll be living in the next few years, D has no idea what his schedule is in the next few days.  I can rarely predict when D will be home or not since he can’t either.  And there is a constant change in how busy he is.  He will be gone or studying for 12 hrs straight for a few weeks, and then may have a week or months of pretty much nothing.  That constant change in his schedule and productivity can be pretty difficult to adjust to for both of us.  It requires a plan A, B, C and learning to be okay if none of those plans work out.  It also means giving a lot of “I don’t knows” to family and friends who ask questions.  Note: Some family and friends are more willing to accept this answer than others.

4.  Military wives are awesome.  I absolutely love having ladies who are going through the same things as me.  I love meeting new people and building new friendships and having a built in support group.  And thankfully with technology, these friendships don’t have to end with a new duty station. (And I imagine it’s hard being a military husband,  but I bet they’re just as awesome.)

5. Ask for a military discount. I still forget this everywhere I go.

When I asked D what he’s learned, all he said “Hurry up and wait” (*see number 3).  That’s the Navy for you.

It’s definitely been a wild ride our first year in the military, I’m sure there are many more adventures ahead of us!

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Sometimes I wish states didn’t exist

Like when they have completely different requirements from licensure. MFT is a newer field, so there is no consistency state to state. Unfortunately the board in Florida made me take an extra graduate course to satisfy one of their requirements. They also told me this a week after fall semester started, so I had to wait until January to start the course (rather than taking it during the two months I had off before I started working again . . . grrr). But I’m DONE! I will say, it was pretty easy and not what I would consider graduate-level work except for this last week because I had to write my first paper in 4 years. I am happy to say I survived, everything is in and I just have to wait until next week to get my final grade. Hopefully that means very soon after, I can go back and change everything back to LMFT. I really miss that L.

Note for military spouses: This is definitely something you’ll experience again and again as you move around the world no matter what your field. Thankfully some states recognize this and have expedited processes or reduced fees for military spouses (yay for Florida, boo for Oregon). I have discovered, however, that you do have to do a bit of legwork to make that actually happen (Hint: Very BLUNT, semi-angry emails to the supervisors of supervisors seem to help to get the ball rolling). I also realized I should have looked into scholarships and grant money for spouses a lot sooner. I had to pay for my course before I did enough research, but most programs will only give you money in advance, rather than reimburse you.

D has two more tests left in API- eeek! We are keeping our fingers and toes crossed that all continues to go as well as its been going so that we can celebrate (and just take a giant breather) this weekend. Any extra luck sent our way would be appreciated!

Gratitude

As we head into my favorite season, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for how blessed we have been this year.  Last week we had Thanksgiving dinner at our house with a few of our military friends and it was so fun to share everyone’s traditional foods and enjoy each other’s company.  It was a good reminder to me of one of my greatest blessings – the many people that come in to my life.  We have moved 6 times since we’ve been married and I had moved somewhere around 20 times before that; believe it or not only 1 of those moves has been for the military!  While moving is definitely stressful, I actually love it.  The main reason is the amazing new people that come into my life.  Pensacola has not been a disappointment with this and I’m so grateful for the new friendships I’ve made!  I’ve been a little stressed the last two months with all of the traveling, hotels, moving, trying to get settled and prep for my business to open this week, getting used to my husbands erratic schedule while not having a schedule of my own –  but I’m starting to open my eyes again to how tiny these stressors are and how lucky I really am.  I pulled out my gratitude journal last week and realized I had not written anything in it since last Thanksgiving.  This year has been incredible with how many blessings we’ve had, yet I have not been taking the time to recognize them and express gratitude to my maker for giving them to me.  I hope that I can turn that back around this month and truly appreciate the wonderful gifts I’ve been given!

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Guests showing up almost two hours early (whoops!) meant this was the only pic I got of our splendor this year!  But let it be known, all of our friends are amazing cooks, even though my oven will be smoking for months with spilled Turkey juices my turkey was the most flavorful I’ve made,  and bringing cookie butter and speculoos cookies from Trader Joes with us from Oregon resulted in a fabulous s’mores pie.

We’re finally here!

We’ve actually been here for quite some time now.  Here meaning Pensacola, by the way.  After 13 days of traveling, first to a wedding and then the long drive with stops along the way to see family, we finally made it to Pensacola. Since D first decided he wanted to join the Navy, we knew we’d end up in Pensacola for training so we’ve pretty much known since last May that this is where we’d probably be living.  It’s weird to think that we’re finally here 18 months later.   We’ve done a little exploring around and lots of shopping for OUR HOUSE!  Yes, in case we haven’t had enough changes this year, we also became first time homeowners!  We are loving our new space (although I’m pretty sure we’d be happy in anything after a week of living in the Navy Lodge :/). We’ve also had more rain in the last two weeks than the entire three years in Portland, which has probably been good that its kept me inside working on unpacking rather than lazing it at the beach.

I am happy to be feeling a little more settled (though not totally there yet) and excited to get to know the people, places, and of course, food of Pensacola.  I’m even making headway with starting my private practice, which I’m super excited about.  I’m also hoping that now that we’re in one place (not 15 different states), I’ll be able to write more often.  Here’s a few pics from the trip and the last few weeks.

A few of the states we passed throughIMG_1710 In front of our new house!

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Can’t believe how big our boy is getting!IMG_1518

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Hello world.

Blogging has not been at the top of my list lately, but it’s not surprising that I’ve been MIA considering on top of prepping for a cross-country move, closing my business, and taking a house hunting trip to Florida, we’ve been very busy with this.

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That’s right, as if life wasn’t a bit stressful already, we adopted this little ball of craziness two and a half weeks ago. He’s definitely kept us occupied with potty training, teething, and general mayhem and has almost doubled in size already! Luckily he’s quite the sweetheart and a delightful addition to our zoo . . . er, I meant family.

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We’re counting down the days til the big move. I’m getting so excited, especially after my visit to Pensacola last week. I loved exploring the area a bit and it feels really nice knowing we have a place to live.  I hope to enjoy our last few days here in Oregon, but thankfully it’s feeling a little bit less scary having had a taste of this:

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Hurry up and . . . wait

I’ve seen this phrase several places to describe how things work in the navy, and let me tell you I feel like I’m stuck in the waiting game right now. We’re kind of in this really weird transition period, part of me wants to enjoy every last moment in Oregon and spend time with people and the other half of me just wants to get out of here and move on to the next thing!  My practice has slowed down as I’m preparing to close it, and D’s work is pretty chill at the recruiting office so it’s been nice to have time to relax but we also have so many unknowns and stressful things coming up, it doesn’t feel too relaxing!  We know when we need to be in Florida, but don’t have an exact moving date yet (because its not up to us).  And the control freak part of me is slightly (okay, VERY) freaked out by the fact that in a month we’ll be driving across the country to move into our new . . . hotel room.  I’m trying not to think about how crazy those days are going to be trying to find a house (and build a new practice/find a job at the same time??).  I’m soooo excited for D to start flight school and get further down the path to where he wants to be, but the reality of the sacrifices a military wife has to make are starting to hit me.  While I’m trying to remain hopeful about starting a new practice in Florida and being able to be as successful there as I’ve been here, it’s also really scary having to say goodbye to my dream job and head back into the unknown.

Thank goodness for faith.  We’ve accomplished much harder things, and I trust that everything will work out in the end. For now all I need is a lot of patience and keeping this image in my mind:

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I heart Oregon.

I think it’s finally starting to hit me that we’re moving soon.  Don’t get me wrong, I am about 90% super excited about it.  But I’m starting to have the realization that the other 10% is really not so excited, it’s actually pretty nervous and sad.  Not to sound like a horrible person, but it’s not the idea of leaving people that I’m sad about – don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people here that I care about and will miss, but I’ve moved around a lot in my life and know that even though I can’t see people face to face anymore, it doesn’t mean my relationships end.  I still have so much love in my heart for friends and family I haven’t seen in weeks, days, and years.  I also know that there will also be amazing people wherever I go.  Relationships are something I can take with me.  But I’m feeling sad about some of the things that I can’t.

My private practice.  Having a practice of my own was the end goal, the dream job.  To think that I did it in my twenties is crazy to me!  I’m not sure I can describe what it feels like to take absolutely nothing and create a living for yourself.  It’s pretty awesome.  And I love working with couples.  It is tough, but not the “I hate my job” kind of tough, it’s the “I’m doing an incredibly hard but awesome thing” tough.

Food.  One of my favorite things about exploring new places is finding delicious places to eat, and Portland of course has not let me down.  Waffle Window, Por que no tacos, Screen Door, Salt&Straw, Mother’s (yes I know, Portlandia snobs, that these are cliche places but theres a reason they are cliche – they’re DELICIOUS).  Also I’m really trying hard not to think about how I won’t be able to have a Burgerville Chocolate Hazelnut shake next January.

Donuts.  Yes, they deserve a category all on their own.  If you want a donut, fly to Portland now.  Don’t discriminate.  There is not such thing as a bad donut.  There is such a thing as a not good donut, but not a bad one.

Nature.  I’m no tree hugger.  Chop those babies up and build some apartments if it means my rent will go down. (K, I really did get mad when they chopped the trees down in front of my house, but I think they put something in the water here.  It also makes you want to buy a Prius).  I really do love the green and the mountains here, though.  And Oregon really has some of the most beautiful sunsets.

Roses.  Also deserve their own category.  I absolutely loved growing roses in my garden in our house.  They are tricky and require special care, but at the same time are super easy to grow here.  And the Rose Garden here has to be one of my favorite places on earth.  It also smells like heaven.

The weather.  Wait, what am I saying?  This summer has been sooo HOT – for Portland. Which means a mere 24 days in the 90s.  And it barely rained this winter!  Also the world stops when it even sort-of snows, which I love.  Even though I was terrified of moving to this rainy place, I will admit that Oregon is wonderfully mild.

Trips to Seattle, Vancouver, the coast, the mountains. Some of my favorite memories of living here are actually getting away from here.

Sadly I probably won’t even realize everything I’ll miss until its gone.  I’m going to try to savor it all for the next few months and trust that soon I’ll have a long list of things I love about Florida.

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