March madness & military life

March has been a wildly busy month – but I think I say that about every month!

It has been a month filled with learning, new projects, stepping out of my comfort zone, lots of coffee, family visits, & goodbyes to good friends.

Graduation & goodbyes

One of the main highlights of the month was B graduating from the Air Force Institute of Technology with a Masters in Electrical Engineering this past week! He has spent the last 18 months working so hard & learning SO much. His next assignment is {luckily} at this base so we don’t have to move. We realized last week how settled into our tiny house we’ve become. Moving is going to be hard whenever we have to do it next!

The graduation of this class of students from AFIT also means that many many many of my military spouse friends are moving to their next assignments all over the country this week.

It breaks my lil heart to see them go, but I keep reminding myself that, as people say, “it’s a small Air Force” and it’s likely we will be stationed with these same friends in the future. And for the ones going to the DC area, I can visit with them when I return to Virginia to see my family!

Friends moving away is something that is still new to me, seeing as I’ve only been an Air Force spouse for, well, 18 months or so. The more “seasoned” spouses have dealt with this for years, but I can imagine that it doesn’t get much easier to say farewell.

Being a military spouse means leaning hard on the community around you, making fast friendships, and sharing a special kind of bond with those who you might never have spoken to if it wasn’t for your spouse’s career. I don’t exactly know how to explain this connection to people who haven’t experienced it before. Being a military spouse is beautiful & terrible all at the same time.

You have to open your heart fully, knowing that it’ll be broken a little bit every time the PCS orders arrive.

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

In photo news…

I’ve been snapping away lately, as a few friends have asked me to take photos for them & their families this month. I’ve done head shots, a newborn session, a couple session {which I’m currently editing}, & countless test shots around the house with a new lens.

The newborn session was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone, as I had never done anything quite like it. I’m so grateful to my sweet friend for trusting me to take photos of her little one! & happy two week birthday, Ember!

My friend Elisa needed some head shots for her professional portfolio – she’s getting her PhD in English and is a professor! – and asked me to help out. We went “on location” to a coffee shop that has some good backgrounds – lots of brick & colorfully painted walls. Of course, the weather was rude to us and decided to be barely above freezing, but Elisa was an amazing sport and braved the cold!

For the love of books

Life update: I think I want to be a librarian. I don’t know what kind yet {school, children’s, YA?} but since taking this job at my local library, it feels like a pretty great career for me.

I’m working in the Youth Services department as an associate, which means I help the actual librarians in the department prep events, I do teacher collections, & random tasks like bulletin boards.

But it also means that I work the desk in the Children’s department, and answer patron questions all day long! It feels like the coolest treasure hunt ever to be given a random search criteria & come out with just the right book for the kid or a parent.

It’s not so great when a child asks you to find “the book I was reading a few weeks ago with stick drawings but I don’t remember what it’s about or the name of the book or the author but there was a gun in it.” I wasn’t so successful there!!

Alas, grad school is the next step if I really want to pursue this, and I don’t quite have the funds at the moment – but I am learning a TON in this job.

Goal setting missteps

Remember how I wrote that big long post about how excited I was about my new planner and using it to set TONS of goals and meet them all?

Yeah… more on that later.

April showers

Looking forward to April, it feels like it’ll be a bit of a calmer month for me. I may be jinxing myself just by saying that!

B starts his new job next week, so he’ll be going back to a regular work day, while I mainly work evenings at the library & weekends at the coffee bar. It’ll be interesting to see how we work this out and make time to see each other!!

I’m excited to slow down a bit and re-focus on my goals and on self-care. I also may have a giant pile of laundry I need to catch up on… #adultingishard

Forty truths & no lies {about me}

Hello there, dear readers & people that I actually know in real life! I love you all!

This is going to be like those beginning-of-the-year icebreakers that everyone actually hates, except I’m the only one talking and it doesn’t suck.

I’ve picked up a few new followers over the past few months & thought it was about time to do a proper introduction of myself.

Standing in the snow & wearing my LuLaRoe, as usual.

And what better way is there to do that than dumping a bunch of random {and some fun} facts out onto the interwebs? I can’t think of anything, so here goes! Continue reading “Forty truths & no lies {about me}”

Worry less – or don’t, whatever…

I’ll never be a free spirited, go-with-the-flow, super chill kind of person, and I’m mostly okay with that.

I tend to worry a lot about most things, big and small. Worrying is definitely not one of the traits I am most proud of, and it can lead to some intense feelings of anxiety sometimes, but, get this – I don’t think that all worrying is bad.

Sometimes my worrying causes me to catch details or issues that others might miss, or allows me to fully think through and process a situation in front of me. I can mentally prepare for multiple outcomes, as I have that “let me think of every single thing that can go right or wrong in this situation” kind of brain. This brain has also gotten me into many a sleepless night because I was pretty sure a murderer was about to break into my house, but hey, I didn’t say that my worries are all good! I just think that so much of the conversation around worrying is that it’s something that should be avoided, shamed, or crushed immediately, and that that mentality isn’t helping anything.

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Instead of trying to immediately force any of these thoughts out of my head or beating myself up for my worries, I am putting my focus and attention to worrying less and trying to understand why I am worried in the first place. Can I turn this worry into positive thought on what I can practically do to make the best of this situation or prepare for something? Most of the time, my worrying won’t actually change the outcome of the situation. Many of my worries are not productive, and therefore should not be given priority in this strapped-for-space brain of mine. Repressing them is not going to get me anywhere, but reflection and gentle thoughts will.

… any tips?

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Validation & the sharing of feelings

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that I like to write about my feeeeeeelings.

I spend a lot of time thinking about everything. I find it helpful & important to give myself time for reflection and connection to my thoughts and feelings, and to get those jumbled-up words on paper & onto my blog. It feels like meditation to me, and helps me come to terms with what I’m feeling as well.

And sometimes, when I share those feels here on my blog, I end up feeling validated as well.

My heart was overflowing with looooove after my post on friendship, because as it turns out, my feelings are shared amongst the military spouse and general twenty-something-lady communities that I’m a part of. I was reassured by Facebook friends and people that I’m just getting to know that I’m not alone in my worries and sentiments. I was reminded that though it can appear as though some people make fast friendships based on certain identities, like religion, it’s not always easy or instant. A lot of what I like to write about, like this topic of friendship, is personal and close to my heart. Friendship is a personal thing, and the way it appears on the internet may not be what it’s like in real life. There are quiet, ever-present friendships that don’t need to be shouted from the virtual rooftops, and there are loud, exciting, I-need-everyone-to-know-how-much-I-love-this-person friendships that just need to be shared. And then there are some that are just in between. Different people get different things out of friendship, and that’s a beautiful thing.

It just felt so good to be understood and heard by others, and to give others a chance to let themselves be heard as well. Maybe I was even able to help them put their feelings into words, and for them to feel a sense of validation as well.

As with most blog posts, I don’t know where I’m going with a post until I’m writing it – definitely a metaphor for how I live my life – but with this one, I just wanted to express how grateful I am for this platform to share my feelings and to get validation back from it. We build relationships by being vulnerable, and that’s what I’m trying to do here. I am appreciative for all who make themselves vulnerable right back by reaching out or sharing their own thoughts. If you’re reading this, you’re awesome, I appreciate you, and thank you for being here.

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Women keep trying to sell me things & I have feelings about it

As I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across an article that REALLY spoke to me. As I quickly read it, I felt myself nodding along and actually saying “YES that’s it!” out loud.

And that’s because almost every time I scroll through Facebook, I see another sales pitch for a direct sales company, like LuLaRoe, Scentsy, Beachbody, etc etc etc. I have nothing against people (women, almost exclusively, and in my case, military wives) trying to make money for their families, and I’ve definitely bought from some of these companies, but it still just blows my mind how so many military spouses seem to get sucked into these multilevel marketing schemes. Can they really be making much off of it? Are the products worth their value, or even safe? Is it worth all of their time and effort? It sometimes seems like an “easy” way to make a few bucks and stay at home with the fam, but if you even start to scratch the surface of these companies, it can start to sound like they’re taking advantage of these women.

And to quote the article I came across, “To me, on the outside, it looked like overcompensation. It seemed like they were selling out and settling for a job that could potentially steal away time and money without much to show for it. I thought — perhaps narrow-mindedly — that they could do better than a kit and a sales pitch.” (yeah, get ready for me to quote entire paragraphs in place of my writing because the author just put my feelings into words SO PERFECTLY)

I can understand the feeling of wanting to settle for a job that’s not necessarily using all of my abilities, and wanting to get a paycheck with minimal effort. Especially as a military spouse, it can be hard to find a job right away after you move across the country, with few connections and a job market that might not be calling your name. Admittedly, I’ve considered taking up one of these direct sales gigs, as an “on the side thing” or until I found a “real” job, and because the discounts once you become a seller sound pretty appealing. But the more I thought about all of the time you put into social media and (sometimes aggressive) recruiting of your friends for sales and the money you have to sink into it, the less appealing it began to sound.

But the draw is very real for many military spouses. I don’t have kids yet, so I can’t speak to that aspect personally, but I think it’s wonderful to have the choice to stay at home with your children and be there for every bit of life. If you have the ability to be a stay-at-home-mom and it’s your choice, then go for it! At the same time, the fulfillment of a career and the ability to contribute to the family income can be extremely important, if not necessary, for many women. But there can be societal roadblocks upon roadblocks for civilian wives and military spouses alike. As the author wrote, “I’ve met wives who intended to become teachers, researchers, realtors, and nurses but ended up as housewives or stay-at-home moms due to military moves.” I’m worried about becoming one of them, but that’s another blog post.

Then in come the direct sales companies, with their alluring calls of “a sense of achievement, mentorship, community, or purpose,” and on top of all of that – $$$.

The article goes on to reveal that hey, there’s really not that much money in it for the people doing the selling and the women that sell for these companies are barely compensated for all of the work that they actually put in. Some companies even give retail credit instead of actual money! “The MLM industry can be a wake-up call to communities and companies. Women are so motivated to work that they’ll do it for next to nothing and will bring their friends, relatives, and neighbors into their businesses. Imagine how successful they’d be if they were given the adequate support, flexibility, and training to do it in your office.” I couldn’t agree more.

So with all of this in mind about the sliiiiightly shady aspects of these companies and how they miiiiight be taking advantage of some groups of women, why do I still click on their sales pitches and go their parties and browse through their catalogs? Why am I in Facebook groups made for these women, my almost-friends, to sell me products? Just like the author experienced, who is also a military spouse, after I did my first PCS to Ohio and was looking to connect with spouses and make friends and build relationships – and if listening to their sales pitches was a way to at least dip my toe into their circles, then I figured I should hear them out. It’s women helping women, right? “Psychologists would probably say that some of this impulse was due to my gender; women who want to protect relationships often avoid the disruption of saying no.” Will I come across as rude if I remove myself from this Facebook page, or say no to an event? Will people look at me differently if I write this blog post, or feel uneasy around me? Will I come across as a rude outsider who puts down their lifestyle? Will I lose friends? (and when I say friends, I mean acquaintances who might not consider me their actual friend, but who I can talk to at spouses events and whose posts I like on Facebook) I debated whether or not I should actually write this post, let alone share the article on its own.

To each their own, I guess? I’m glad that these direct sales companies allow women to get a sense of fulfillment from this type of work, that they can contribute to their household income and make connections with other women. Our society tends to make it hard for women to have families and work and keep their sanity all at the same time, so many women have found direct sales as their way around that obstacle. But it’s hard not to feel skeptical and wary, and even concerned that these women are not only selling themselves short, but losing money in the process. I’ve got a lot of feelings about this, and this article REALLY brought them out!!! And it expressed those feelings much more eloquently than I could. So go read it. Merp.

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Daily reminder – You Are Enough

What made her a great storyteller is that she saw herself as the fascinating main character in the wild story of her life.

TBH time!

Ever since I heard about the whole idea of blogging, I’ve wanted to write a blog. I love reading memoirs, and want my blog to read as a mini memoir/journal/place where I unload my thoughts.

I’ve tried blogging multiple times, but just like every diary I started as a kid, the blogs never stuck. If my past blogs were in the physical form of a diary, they would have hundreds of blank pages left unfilled. I don’t really have a direction for this blog, though I wish I did, so this one is simultaneously easier and more difficult to write for. I can write whatever I want, and it doesn’t have to follow a theme or be about a specific subject. And so what would make people want to read it? What makes me want to write for it? Is it for views, or to keep my family and friends updated? Is it a personal journal, or is it to someday get internet famous?

I’ve shied away from writing for this blog many evenings because when I went to write, I felt ashamed that this blog seems to have no purpose or reason. Is this post going to make people think my blog is super serious and about deep thoughts? Will people (readers? What readers?) think my blog is dumb and whiny and full of first-world problems? This blog has no name – shouldn’t it have a name?

And so this post below is something I’m going to keep open in a tab on my laptop – every time those thoughts pop into my head while I’m trying to build my blog, I will remind myself that I am enough. There’s no pressure for my blog to be anything from anyone, and that’s a beautiful, freeing notion.

“What if the next time we sat down to write, we didn’t worry about being interesting, we didn’t worry about being liked, and we didn’t worry about being reblogged?”

Source: You Are Enough

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret

Scrolling for change

What is it about a Humans of New York photo and heart-wrenching story that makes us suddenly care? What is it about a tragic picture of a lifeless three-year-old’s body washed up on the beach that makes us all want to stand up and help? And why do these aching feelings seem to subside so quickly and disappear from the social consciousness?

Social media and the global immediacy of the news these days makes us simultaneously so aware of social justice issues, but the fact that it comes and goes from our news feeds, and minds, so quickly makes it so easy to move on and almost more difficult to really care or take purposeful action in the long term. I feel guilty just thinking that I scroll through past stories of struggle and hardship and loss around the world any time I am on my phone, sometimes stopping to look and investigate if it holds my interest long enough, or if it’s relatable. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a genuinely crappy person or if it’s because it’s too overwhelming to me to learn about all of this pain in the world and not be able to feel like I’m exacting any change on it.

Reading these stories and educating myself about what’s going on in the world is so important, and I think that you can’t do responsible social justice work without making yourself fully aware of the situation. But where I’m at in my life right now, what kind of social justice work can I even do? I’m not the kind of person who’ll share an article on Facebook about something and mentally check off a box thinking that I’ve spread enough awareness for the day. Now that I’m not in college, where I could feel like I was making a difference in my little social activist circles, and now that I’m in a place where I don’t feel like I’m a part of any particular community, what can I do? At the same time, doing social justice things for the sake of making yourself feel better isn’t a great reason for motivation.

While I work on figuring this out, I’ll just keep reading and scrolling and watching and talking and learning. I think that’s the best I can do.

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret