The Boys Are Deployed

bootsonbedI don’t want my husband to deploy. I want my husband to deploy. My husband is about to deploy. His battalion has been gone for a while now and he will be joining them soon.
Am I sad? Not on the outside- or the inside really. In my brain, it’s a sad situation; in my mind, there is no use in crying about it.
I have been trying to articulate my feelings on this for weeks because they are complex. Feelings about being away from my spouse are the simplest. Feelings of not wanting him to stay are hardest to express.
When my husband leaves, it will just be me, endlessly taking calls, not cleaning up after myself, doing hobbies. I am hundreds of miles from friends and family with no vacation days left. I’ve tried to make new friends, but no one is ever close enough. It will be lonely.
On the other hand, I have it better than the other ladies. I don’t have kids. I’m older and have actually lived on my own in a city away from home. I am highly capable of reaching out to others. I’m equipped for this. For that reason, it is hard for me to feel sorry for myself when dozens of other women are enduring this same thing with a fifth of the survival skills. I’ll be alright. I’ll write more, eat better, and save money. I have no doubt I will find something to do with myself.

My plan is to find things to work on. Immediately, I should be taking a four-week statistics class. Oh, I decided to move forward with a masters degree, so I’ll have that to focus on as well. I may try Paleo again, which I tried when he went to Basic Training and lost 15 pounds! There is also that novel I started writing last year that I would be proud to complete. I have enough things to do that I see this separation as an opportunity rather than a pause.

That isn’t why I don’t want my husband to stay though. The rest of the Spencer’s battalion left a couple months ago. He didn’t leave because he was on medical profile after having vision correction surgery. There was a moment when his leadership told him they wanted him to stay behind as the point person during the deployment. I felt frustrated by this. Not just because the plan kept changing. I was frustrated because I didn’t want him to miss out on the opportunity. I didn’t want him to be the old dude in the battalion that still hasn’t deployed. I didn’t want him to be that one guy in a group that doesn’t get the joke because “you had to be there.” I didn’t want to spend the next nine months knowing my husband was wishing he were somewhere else, but that’s not what made my eyes sting.
While I was still unhappy with my career in St. Louis, there was at least the illusion of opportunity and the reality of money. You already know what the reality of my career prospects is here, so the consolation is the success of my husband’s career. If he doesn’t deploy, then he’s “behind.” I’m behind. This whole time I have watched opportunities be taken away from him and my career stall and roll backward. What made me tear up was that overwhelming feeling that if he has to miss out on something else, my professional sacrifice will be for absolutely nothing. It will be for his spun wheels, broken plans, late nights, and deep-seeded frustration, compliments of the Army.

So of course I want him to stay, but it is important that he goes. And he is going. True soldiers join the military to go through hardship. And I understand the danger and reconciled it when I decided to become a military spouse, that’s why fear is not a part of this discussion. We didn’t come to the land of chain restaurants for the chain restaurants. We are here because the one thing my husband knows more than anything is that he wants to be a soldier.

Trump has been President for 100 Days and Jesus Hasn’t Come Back Yet

hmph

I have been sleeping naked since the election to be ready for the Rapture. Just kidding, that’s not why. But many may be surprised to observe the President make it to his 100th day in office on April 29, 2017 without impeachment, war, or the government completely shutting down. I personally didn’t know what to expect with Donald Trump in office, but seeing as how the first Hunger Games has not been announced, besides the Fyre Festival, I would say my expectations have been exceeded.

It was hard to have a positive outlook given the nationally shared sadface at the outcome of the election. This surprises me since, you know, Trump won, but two percent (of the popular vote) is a lot of people and they are passionate. For the record, I am independent. I wasn’t holding a candle in either direction, for Clinton or Trump, but when I awoke at 5 am and saw Trump had won, a pall immediately came over me. I really didn’t think the country would elect an individual as infamous as he, especially while Billy Bush sits home texting his friends in show business trying to get a job, and they’re all like “Who dis?”/”I don’t know her.” Beyond that point, it was a shock to me that all the projections, including Saturday Night Live sketches, were wrong. But as I do, I moved on and found inspiration by the fact it was now proven that one could literally do anything they want regardless of qualification.

It was hard to remain positive because everyone was so negative. Every podcast I listened to seemed to assume I voted for Hillary Clinton and was considering walking into oncoming traffic because she did not win. My friends felt that people who did not vote for Clinton weren’t living their lives right, and were possibly subhuman, because as a minority and a female, how could I not be enraged at the implication that society may be shifted away from my interests??? Well, being that same black female, I’m used to it. At every turn, America was doing what Americans do best- collective complaining. Have you ever noticed that when there is nothing to talk about, people resort to complaining? In person, through media, on social media it seemed that everyone was talking about politics and assuming I voted for Clinton and complaining to me, which brought me down. I wanted to stay abreast of the topics as well as be a responsible adult but the bias was hard for me watch, and politics is boring. I had to step back.

Phone AlertTrump has made several moves since January 20, but apparently not more than other presidents in their first 100 days, just more notable. The incessant app notifications popping up on my phone every 90 minutes had me shook, but I soon understood my sources were “left wing” and painting a specific picture, in my opinion. There was a moment however, when Trump started firing people that got me concerned. It took me back to my high school boyfriend trading me off his Ultimate Frisbee team because I wouldn’t pass the Frisbee to him. In my defense, I couldn’t pass that far. We see how that relationship turned out. Trump changing out his staff gave me the impression of someone who can’t be told ‘no’ and does not work well with others. But maybe when you pick your staff based on who makes you feel the fuzziest, adjustments are inevitable. I honestly had expected more personal volatility from the President; maybe some outbursts and name calling, but Mr. Spicer seems to be taking on that role for him.

While it is hard for me to take interest in NAFTA, I am inclined to take interest in changes to the Affordable Care Act. Working for a health insurance company, makes this transition an especially interesting time. I talk to consumers that assume I voted for Clinton and blame Trump for the HealthCare Marketplace being a wreck, and members think I should have voted for Trump wishing away the Affordable Care Act away, not knowing that preventive care coverage, not excluding pre-existing illnesses, and pediatric vision and dental are a part of it. Last week I had a self-righteous, white male keep me on the line for 50 minutes preaching about how there should be no healthcare for anyone who cannot afford it, and asserting that everyone should be able to overcome their life circumstances even though the most adversity he has faced has likely been his expensive insurance premium. I talk to these citizens who have no compassion and I get it. And I talk to entitled citizens who are receiving assistance and still complain about having to pay copays and deductible and their bills on time, and I get how society fosters this attitude as well. And I talk to citizens who are very sick and have never had health insurance before and they are grateful and responsible. The situation is depressing and conflicting. I understand where everyone is coming from and wonder if there is a solution that is both fair and right.

People thought their candidate was the way, the truth, and the life, but if I’m not mistaken, that’s Jesus (John 14:6). While He has not come back to save us from politics in general, scripture does say “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God,” – Matthew 13:1. Since I, like Mr. Trump, am not a professional politician or economist, I won’t assert that things would be better or worse with one candidate over the other. I am willing to accept it can go both ways. That does not mean I don’t think anything bad can happen, that means I ultimately believe God is in control of what happens to me so for that reason I will give this guy a chance and pray we have a chance as a nation.

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#WifeGoals

Working From HomeI had a marriage epiphany a couple weeks ago. As I was presenting to my husband my quarterly list of grievances about him, and argued about what qualifies as “effort,” it occurred to me that I could put more “effort” in myself. Last month I heard myself refer to a previous version of myself as “when I was a full time wife” in conversationEven though my husband never complains, I figured I could try to be the girl I know he would like. As I do, I made a list of goals for the week:

  1. Keep the house clean.
  2. Consume and discuss politics.
  3. Have meals ready when Spencer is home from work.
  4. Spend quality time…on the couch.
  5. Look decent when Spencer comes home.
  6. Text throughout the day.

I started the week with ambition and initiative, but I will go on and tell you I failed at all 7 objectives even though there were only 6. Oh, I can find a way to fail. There was a moment that week that made me consider my actual value as a wife.

  1. Keeping the house clean.

I like a clean house and I work from home. That means I am impacted by the cleanliness and have more time to clean. My husband is actually very neat and methodical so I know he likes the house clean and everything in its place. Despite those facts, the house did not get cleaned until I was off Friday and that was just the kitchen. I had cleaned throughout the week, but I guess it made new messes at the same speed.

  1. Listening to Politics

I downloaded NPR Politics and NPR’s UpFirst in an effort to stay abreast of current events. As a clueless, married woman, I usually depend on my husband to brief me on politics and global events. I didn’t grow up around people discussing or caring about politics. I have certainly tried to seek knowledge, but find it to be a literal effort to retain any information. Not to mention that I don’t really watch television or read news. Spencer on the other hand, is very interested and has opinions. I know it would be stimulating for him to be able to discuss news with me and have an intelligent conversation. Despite having identified what and how, I didn’t even listen to the podcast.

  1. Have meals ready

The goal is to have dinner ready by 7:30 and make sure he has a meal for lunch. Things I used to do, even after I started working. Not only did I fail to cook this week, Spencer actually ended up cooking one day. He grilled bratwursts and hotdogs, with no bread, because I forgot to unthaw the ground beef. Then we had leftovers for the next few days. It’s fine for Spencer to cook, but not fine for me to be lazy.

  1. Hang out in the evenings

Quality time with my husband is watching TV with my husband. I would prefer he do what I’m doing sometimes since I don’t want to watch television all the time, but since this was about me meeting him where he was, I wanted to do what I know he would like. Keeping with the theme, there wasn’t a single evening that I sat down after dinner to do more than watch an episode of Veep. Instead I baked or cleaned.

  1. Look decent

Many people think I am attractive, but I just don’t know what you would think if you saw me at 1 pm on a weekday. If I have managed to put on a complete outfit, meaning not a robe or pajamas, then my hair is likely in the same ponytail I wore to the gym with a headband barely hanging on there. I know my husband would at least like me to look groomed, forget the makeup, but I didn’t even manage that. My edges were kinky and my eyebrows were faint, knees ashy…and dinner wasn’t ready.

  1. Text throughout the day

We don’t text regularly because Spencer comes home for lunch, but I am usually working the whole time or he’s napping so we don’t really get to check in. I thought texting throughout the day would be a good way to connect and let Spencer know I was thinking about him. Apparently I wasn’t thinking about him because I didn’t manage a single text that wasn’t logistics related.

  1. Don’t break my husband’s things

A goal not to destroy the other person’s property should be a given for most partners, which is why it was not listed. Even though I didn’t list it, the moment I broke my husband’s iPad case was the lowest point of my week. I am clumsy and I am careless and short-sighted. I did not foresee the iPad falling backward off the ledge and into the empty bathtub, but that’s what happened. I did my best to duct tape the hinge of the case, but it was no use. I sat it on the coffee table and waited for my demise

Scratching Dandruff
Spencer scratching up my dandruff… Sexy.

I really did fail at being a better wife. I tried and I failed. I was discouraged that I couldn’t even achieve what used to be my standard performance. I used to take pride in the package I provided as I anticipated my husband’s needs and stayed on top of my self-given responsibilities. I used to do things like make sure his water bottle was sanitized every week. Now I feel like I am going through the motions and sometimes not even that. I complain a lot about not being able to do both as a full time employee, but the reality is that I am going to be an employee for the foreseeable future. I can’t allow it to take away from my relationship. As I lamented to a friend about my failure, she pointed out took on a lot and should just focus on one thing at a time. I was kind of setting myself up to fail. But most importantly Spencer didn’t seem to notice one way or another. Even though he stayed on top of his chores, he never complained about the clothes crammed under my side of the bed or eating dinner at 9 pm. He didn’t even get mad about the iPad case. He only made a joke about getting a better model that isn’t clumsy. And that, my friends, is unconditional love.

Master’s Degree

ribs at work

I distinctly remember being in the first couple months of my college career and thinking about how I couldn’t possibly earn a master’s degree because I  could barely imagine being in college for four years. By the time I was applying for graduation in 2011, I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want to start working and figuring things out for myself, but life moved on. Once I did graduate my older brother started Pharmacy School and my parents began pressuring me to further my education. I didn’t appreciate that because I had managed all decisions regarding undergrad on my own, thank you very much, and I wanted to see where life took me first instead of earning another degree I didn’t really want.

Fast forward to 2017 when I feel I have exhausted my options. I have talked myself in and out of going to school several times. In the past the issue was finding something I could guarantee I would be happy with in 10 years. Growing up I wanted to be a psychologist or counselor, but I felt like it was presumptuous of me to think I could help people fix their lives. However, after college I began considering Psychology. I actually had a meeting with a black dude with dreads and a doctorate in Psychology that I had met on the street when I was 22 and dated a couple times. I went to see him when he was done with his program at University of Missouri St. Louis to gained some insight, but still wasn’t moved to sign up for the GRE. I thought my lack of action meant this pursuit was not something I should do.

After the Life Insurance sales agent debacle in 2015, I was talking to my counselor about my career woes. When my counselor and I start talking about school, I know I don’t have any real problems anymore and need to take a break until my next existential crisis. Anyway, without knowing anything about my childhood aspirations, she suggested I become a counselor. That was validating coming from her, my counselor. She is also a military spouse and felt like it would be a good option based on that experience and what I have indicated I want in a career.

I didn’t immediately pursue her suggestion because I was under the impression counselors didn’t make anything. She said she actually earned a livable wage, but she could have been the unicorn. I have since learned that Licensed Social Workers are more billable (insurance-wise) than Licensed Practicing Counselors and have less regulations.

As my unemployment reached a fever pitch- which was when I was home alone for a month like “what is life???” when Spencer was at Ranger School- I started looking into it. Being November, it was close to the application deadline for the school here and I had too many questions, so I let it pass. Finally obtaining in March a job put it out of my mind further, but here I am one year later and back at square one.

I am back here seeing another degree as my only option for a few reasons. For one, my counselor keeps telling me to “get my life” vocationally. She doesn’t use those words, but that’s what she is saying. Second, one of my other college-educated coworkers got another job in town, which woke me up to the idea there could still be other options. Third, I work in customer service for a health insurance company. I think my company is outstanding in so many ways, however, if one more person condescends to me when I inform them that I cannot tell them how much they paid to their healthcare provider, I just don’t know. I did apply for a Health Promotion Specialist position within my company but shortly learned that I was “no longer [read ‘never’] in consideration.” If I can’t get a job with the name of my degree in it the title, I’m skunked.

I have spoken to five different schools about their online programs for Master’s of Social Work. I can start soon if I want, but then there’s that whole money thing. Spencer and I have committed to a debt-free lifestyle. Taking a loan for $50,000 feels like going in the opposite direction. Do you think I have an extra $15,000 for each of the next 3 years? I’m going to go ahead and tell you ‘no.’ I could borrow part of the cost. I could quit my job and get it done quickly so I can move on to a higher salary, but exactly how long until I get there, and then how long until I’m back in the black after losing my income for 2 years? There are a lot of movable parts when considering a compromise. To make it more complicated, let’s not forget about that baby I’m supposed to have in the next year. I could wait until after the degree, but y’all, I’m already in my “About to be Thirties.” If now isn’t a good time, neither will be the first few years of my new career.

looking collegiate

The other option I have is to wait until I can use Spencer’s GI Bill to pay for the whole thing. These funds for education can be transferred to the spouse after the serviceperson has served for six years, and they must sign up for at least four more. We are still three years from that. We could wait and do that, but I don’t know how much more discontentment I can take.

Before you say it, I am looking at scholarship options but generally believe I won’t find any at the masters level. I will consider working part time to finish faster, or paying as we go and finishing it sometime within the millennium, or waiting until my kids go to Kindergarten and use the GI Bill. I think there are a lot of scenarios and strategies to consider, but it seems that it will require math, so who knows when I’ll start school. Whatever the decision, I just have to daily find ways to keep moving forward.

5 Weeks to Weightloss- Week 5!

week-5-weightloss

 

Alas, I have spent five consecutive weeks caring about what I look like. Pulling myself from the brink of apathy time and time again was a good exercise for me. While I would like to think I’m well on my way to 2017 magic, part of me feels like now that I’m done with this, I can just eat candy and bread every morning and balloon, but I’m not going to do that, of course…

My final week of this challenge was shot from the start. It was the week after hosting a Super Bowl party, which means my weekly grocery shopping was consumed on Sunday, so the rest of the week we ate chili, hot wings, Southwest eggrolls, and Doritos. I mean, that’s literally all I ate for four days. I came off an excellent week of low carb intake to consume primarily carbs and minimal vegetables. My stomach felt busted. My life was busted, partly because I couldn’t remember where I put any of the things I moved when I cleaned up for the party, including two sticks of butter, which I still haven’t found.

During this five weeks, I had two very good weeks of dieting; I’m not sure what to think about that. It’s like a guaranteed two steps forward and one step back. The other step is the fact that I was consistent with exercise pretty much the whole time. Despite my inconsistency and the fact I only really lost three pounds, I feel like my body has changed completely. I’m more shapely and more firm and I see myself as athletic again. I will always be athletic, but being in the gym and taking care of my body is what makes it apart of my self-image.

I learned that time is the most important factor in change regarding fitness. I had to commit to five weeks. I could have quit about four separate time if not for this commitment and if I had, where would my six pack be??? That shows me that diligence is the most important part of the journey. I will fail, I will be weak, I will stop caring about looking fat, but if I just accept those experiences in the moments I have them without making any life choices based on them, I’ll find my way back to the course of where I want to go.

PS. I’m returning the $70 workout pants I bought. Haven’t been able to bring myself to wear them.

Starting Weight: 165.8  Ending Weight: 162

 

5 Weeks to Weightloss: Week 4

I said I was going to cut processed carbs, and I cut processed carbs. *Smiles smugly to self*

I had a good week. Besides the ones Blue Apron meals I forgot to cancel, I managed to avoid starchy carbohydrates, primarily by not eating tortillas, chips, or cookies. It wasn’t hard at all except for my husband eating all the chicken I grilled for myself to have for breakfast and lunch.

This is an interesting story. Sunday I made mozzarella chicken with spinach noodles. Obviously I wasn’t planning to eat the meal with the noodles during the week. I don’t think chicken with tomato and cheese really goes with broccoli, so I just expected my husband to eat that and let me eat the basic chicken. Next thing I know the container that had my chicken in it was empty. I couldn’t be mad because I hadn’t told my husband the chicken was for me, but I did ask why he didn’t eat the delicious, flavorful and succulent mozzarrella chicken. Two days later we were still hungry after our Blue Apron meal… because we are reckless Americans. I get up and cook up all the chicken thighs in the fridge, but for some reason my husband asks if he should eat the mozzarella chicken from four days prior…

Apart from chicken shenanigans, I was also pleased with my exercise. I got in the usual, but I also took a day off on Monday, which I feel served me well. I once again thoroughly enjoyed working out in the middle of the day a couple times; knocking the dust off my joints from sitting in a chair all day.

The big test for me was the Super Bowl. We hosted a Super Bowl party, and per usual I planned a ton of things to cook. Because I was so busy cooking and tasting a long the way, I didn’t do much eating during the party, but I did eat several cookies I baked as tried to decide if they were actually good or not.Oh, I also ate a TON of Doritos… They will always be my weakness.

Overall, week 4 was an excellent and very promising for the home stretch.

 

Starting Weight: 160.8    Ending Weight: 161

 

5 Weeks to Weightloss: Week 3

The third week of my journey was relatively unremarkable, however, I did start to see definition in my abdomen that motivated me to keep going. I was so motivated that I went to Victoria’s Secret and spent $75 on a pair of workout pants. In my defense, it came with a sports bra! The pants are still sitting on my dresser with the tags on in case I come to my senses, but I have already spent a day in the sports bra and no shirt fantasizing about how skinny I’m about to look.

I still didn’t drink enough water this week, but I drank more nonetheless! I was no longer so dehydrated it felt like I had bronchitis. I also did better about eating breakfast and lunch. It helps to actually have the food around to eat. When I don’t have the groceries, I tend to eat whatever is around which is leftover white chocolate and red hot fudge, cupcakes, and cookies. I definitely can still improve by having those meals prepared since I’ve been using my spare time during the day doing chores.

As far as the gym goes, I still had trouble getting cardio in at the same time as lifting on a couple days, but I got it in later. One day I was going to do cardio when I got off at 2:30 (I’m working a split shift). I lazed around for 30 minutes, then went to get in the car and couldn’t find my id for the gym. I lowkey panicked because I had never lost my id before. I made several trips between my house and my car searching. I finally went to the gym to see if they had it from my checking out a locker key that morning. They did, but I was so put out by the drama that I took my id and went home.

Besides modest measurable success, I am feeling very positively. A few people have complimented me on looking buff, and my friend that works at the front desk very generously told me I didn’t need to lose anymore weight. My legs are in a place that you may or may not be familiar with where they are getting more and more toned, but since I haven’t lost a lot fat yet, I’m busting out of my spandex shorts, in a good way. I can finally feel my hip bone again.

I am at a point where I am no longer wondering if I will make my goal. I want people to know that the journey to weightloss or fitness doesn’t always have high ambition or fervor, but it does have to have time. Failing one week still usually puts you further ahead than before your ever tried. I failed in week 2 and could have thought now wasn’t a good time to try to slim down, but just one week later, I am shopping for crop tops.

Week 4 Goals

  1. Cut out processed carbs Monday through Saturday. The Super Bowl is Sunday…
  2. Prep breakfast and lunch for the week.
  3. Use pitcher as goal for water consumption.

Starting Weight: 164.6   End Weight: 160.8