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Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Defined

"For those have fought for it, and almost died, life has a flavor that the protected with never know." - Purple Heart Memorial at the Military Museum, San Diego, California. 

There is something magical about watching a child cast their eyes upon a service member in uniform for the first time.  With all of their innocence and lack of worldly experience even that child knows that person is someone special and that uniform represents something incredible.  I wonder when that innate understanding and acceptance disappears.  

Today is Memorial Day.  

For most it is a day off of work or school, one of those big sales days at the store, a day to grill out in the back yard and spend much cherished time with friends and family.  For most, the real reason for today is as far from their mind as that first time that they laid eyes on that symbolic uniform as a child.  This isn't a day of ticker tape parades and welcome home banners for those returning from a war laden land far, far away to hug their spouse, their child, their father - but, it should be.  It should be a day, not to honor those returning to their physical home - not that they don't deserve our eternal gratitude - but those that have traveled to their Heavenly home, to be with their Heavenly Father, for those are the ones for which have paid the ultimate sacrifice for this great country.  Today is the day remember and give thanks for those who have died so that the rest of the country can exist behind a curtain of protection that most find so easily forgettable.  

So as you enjoy the day, with friends and family, take a moment to remember those who no longer have that luxury.  Remember those who laid down their life for you, so that you may exhaust the great liberties provided to every citizen of this country.  Remember those that no longer have the luxury of time spent with their loved one, their real life American hero.  Today, remember that freedom is by no means free.

Friday, May 6, 2011

When Reality Sets In

I can't believe that I have been in hiding for almost 2 months now.  The reason I say that is that the days are extremely long, but in a very strange way I am not sure where the time has gone.  What I do know is that I am ready for this deployment to be over and to have the regular ability to hug, kiss, even talk to my incredible husband.  So what do I mean "in hiding," well I guess I should explain that part.

My life prior to this whole fairy tale was less than easy.  Through all of those difficulties, self induced or otherwise, I had just taken everything with stride and took each day as it came at me.  I dreamed of a better life, but never in a million years thought that the perfection that I enjoy now was in my future.  People would tell me how strong I was and I just shrugged it off because I never saw life as strength and weakness, but more of this is the road that I must walk because this is where my path unto here has led me.  I had never looked back and examined the things I did right or wrong.  In fact, I never thought about the past at all.  All of that changed when I met my husband.  He is the letter of perfect in my opinion.  He is honorable, brave, morally sound, intelligent - I could go on for days regarding his many qualities.  We had lived two very different lives and in order for him to understand me he had to understand where I came from.  I couldn't explain myself and the missteps I had taken to him because I didn't quite understand them myself, which led to quite a bit of introspective exploration.  Who was I really?  Why did I do such dumb things?  Why did I let people treat me the way I had?  With my husband by my side, even though it was difficult to relive those things, life outside of that was so wonderful that it was just a small portion of negativity and was, for the most part, easy to deal with.  I had constant reminders that was the past and long ago.

At the beginning of all of this I had great plans to continue to take the world by storm, to enjoy our kiddo, to work on our house, to grow our business and prepare to build our future upon his return home.  I was going to be the stoic, emotional bad ass I had always been, but I guess life is what happens to us when we are planning.  What never occurred to me before was that I wasn't an emotional person.  I did allow myself to feel because I didn't want to feel anger, hurt, pain, fear - anything negative.  With my awesome husband, I felt real emotions for probably the first time ever.  He put so much joy and happiness in my life that heavily fortified walls were abolished as if they were blown apart by C-4. When he was here, I didn't mind dealing with the bad because the good out weighed the bad by infinite amounts.  He is the first person that I have ever just given myself to the good, the bad and the ugly and, amazingly enough, he still loves me in spite of all of my short comings.  Dealing with the proverbial demons when he was home was seemingly easy because it wasn't all consuming - his love was.  It amazes me that even with our little familial bubble being as expansive as it is now that I still feel like the most loved woman in the world.  With very limited communication I can still feel his love and presence in daily life.

So where does the problem lie?  Well, it took me almost two months to figure that out for myself, hence the absence on writing over that time frame.  The problem is that in order to have the good you have to have the bad, the positive is only possible by the negative.  Because my heart was opened to all of the genuine good in the world, it is now susceptible to the bad emotions as well.  For what reasons I will never know, but I have been blessed with the most amazing love on the face of the Earth and the reality of losing that for a greater cause is closer that I would ever like it to be.  I have faith in my husbands abilities and faith that he will return to us.  That doesn't mean that I don't have to deal with the fear of the possibility that he might not, in one way or another.  There are times that I am in an awesome schedule: our princess, communicating with my love, church, housework, business, blogs, PTO, my music.  Even dealing with my issues and healing old wounds, learning from my mistakes and those of others and making myself the kind of mother and wife that my family deserve and doing it all with my head held high and my shoulders back.  Then things shift to where every new car on the street makes my heart skip a beat and turns my stomach, to where I check my phone and email every 5 minutes waiting to hear from him, to where I fight the urge to turn on the news or search the net for word, anything as to what is going on.  It is easy to be strong and stoic when you don't allow yourself to feel.  On the other hand, you miss out on one of life's greatest gifts in the process.  It is easier to be mechanical, but is definitely not worth missing out on the bliss that he provides.

So yes, I have been in "hiding."   I have been introspective, lost in prayer and learning from the mistakes I have made.  I have been learning to deal with the entire spectrum of emotions.  Despite how incredibly difficult it has been, I am so grateful for this time.  I am not sure that my reflections would have had such a powerful impact should the negative emotions they evoke be masked by the happiness that my husband brings into my life.  I am inevitably a control freak and leaving my life in God's control and trusting in his plan for my family has been a very difficult task, but I see my faults and I am working on them.  Patience is a virtue that I lack, but I am hoping that it finds me soon.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I Think I Smelled a Ghost

***** Before we begin - a side note.  I have pulled all of my work related information and put it in the Royal Inspirations blog I hope that you follow me there too :)  *****

I am learning that it is okay to cry.

Honestly, I fought crying back every time it presented itself over the past few months.  I think because I was terrified that if I started, I wouldn't be able to stop.  I am starting to understand that dealing with this deployment is not something that I can not internalize.  These emotions live in a small glass jar and are jagged and treacherous on their own.   Eventually, they will shatter that jar and rip you apart inside, out.  The caveat of the situation:  I didn't deal with negative emotions until my wonderful husband.  I collected them, folded them very small and placed them inside of their little glass nest and left them their to expand.  With him, we took them out and let them unfurl and picked them apart one by one until they became so small, so obsolete that they vanished into thin air. How in the world am I supposed to unravel this mess ... alone?   It is one of those parts of daily life that I have to learn to do on my own, just like work, house work, spirituality, errands - all of those things that we did together, I have to relearn how to do, on my own.

This week there were two things that caused this introspective revelation.

Our daughter wanted to send a letter in this weeks care package.  Despite the fact that she is young and just learning to write enough to compose a full letter, she is very mature and worldly.  She understands completely why he had to go and the possible consequences of him going.  As she begins, she proudly tells him how well she is doing in school, in spite of some earlier issues with her not paying attention in class.  She reminds him that she wants to wait to have her birthday party for six months after her actual birthday so that they can have a combined birthday-coming home Marine Corps Hoorah party!  (Really ... what 7 year old, only child would stay getting presents and a party for six months, willingly?!?!  I really am incredibly lucky to have such an amazing princess!)  She continues on telling him how much she misses him and what all she misses.  Here is where she catches me off guard.  She asks him to "... please not die, because it would make her sad forever."  Then she sweetly asks, "... if it is God's will that you go to heaven, will you promise to watch over Mommy and Me?"  She looks up at me with her deep, sapphire blue eyes and asks me "Do you think Pot Pie will be happy with my handwriting?  Is it a good letter, Mom?"  I lean down, kiss her on the forehead, utter "It is a great letter" and have to leave the room as to not let her see me brake down.  I am so very grateful that she is to the point that she can communicate her worries and fears.  Never in a million years did I think that I would have to sit down with her and walk that fine line between reassurance and reality.   How do you tell a innocent child, with a faith deeper than most adults I have met in my life time, that you pray every day for it to be God's will that the most wonderful man in the world will return to us and know that he very well may not?  The emotional scars of losing one that you love that much are deeply devastating and irreversible.  How do you over come the fear that such a loss would do spiritual damage?  Needless to say, I cried, long and hard over that one.

A few nights later, I had finally found my stride a little bit.  I rearranged a few things in the bed room, picked up some clutter and had started laundry.  I came down to flop the laundry and as I hit the bottom of the stairs I swear that I smelled my husband.  For a moment, I breathed deeply and then pure fear set in.  I dropped the laundry basket and traced each room - I went out the front door and then the back, I looked in the garage.  Like a child playing hide and seek with an imaginary friend, I surveyed every inch of the house searching for my husband.  Of course, my husband was no where to be found.  I sat on the last step of the stair case and tears started to pour down my cheeks.  I cried in silence.  It only took a few moments for my mind to travel back almost ten years to when my moms oldest sister passed of Multiple Sclerosis.  She had been sick my entire life and we knew that the end would come sooner than later.  The morning that she went to be with the Lord, I woke up sick to my stomach.  I knew that something was terribly wrong and then phone rang and she had left us.  At that point, my tears were pooling at my feet at the idea that something had happened.  I put my face in my hands and prayed that he and his men were safe.  The only thing left to do is wait.  Wait to hear his voice.  Wait to receive an email.  Wait for the uniforms to show up at my door.  It is all a vicious waiting game.

It is now that I have learned to take solace in the fact that I can and do cry.  To me it shows that I have someone who has touched me to the point that I am literally moved to tears.  I cry tears of fear and sadness, but I also cry tears of joy for the extremely wonderful man that God placed in my life and the spectacular memories that we have forged over the past year.

I have finally learned that it is okay to cry.

Monday, March 7, 2011

And So it Begins.

There was a large part of me that had hoped that my husband would not end up deploying.  The idea of having to spend another second away from him, let alone another several months, was heart breaking.  On average, a reservist deploys every five years.  My husband on the other hand was facing his fourth in almost eight years.  He is dedicated to the cause and his men.  There was a small chance that he would not go, and even though deep down I knew that he would end up going, my heart sank when he called to tell me that he would be leaving and soon. When there was a chance of him not going, I was able to be completely confident that my happily ever after would be just that and I didn't have to deal with the idea of losing my best friend.  Now, a whole new era of possibilities and fears came rushing to the surface.  So, I dropped everything -well, no, not really.  It was more like I popped the clutch and shifted from 5th to 3rd, instantly.  I was already running a day or so behind on everything and somehow managed to get everything crammed into a few days and, with a very heavy heart, boarded a plane to go spend the weekend with my love.

When I got to California, I headed straight to the rental car office only to find that Advantage (a Hertz company) is the most unprofessional and horrid group of people to deal with, but that is a different complication to be explained at a later date.  All I can say is that I would NEVER do business with them - EVER.  This was not the way this trip was supposed to start and it only made me worry that much more about things to come.  Three hours later and thanks to the awesome customer service at Enterprise, my prince came to rescue me!  I was so glad to see him!  He didn't even have the rental car in park before I had hoped the barrier and was jumping towards him.    

He had to work Friday, so I tried to keep myself occupied with an order that I needed to complete.  We grabbed a bite to eat and went to see a movie that night.  It was just what I needed.  It had been 6 months since we had enjoyed a "real date" and I can't even remember the last time we went to see a movie together.   

Saturday, we headed to San Diego.  We drove around Coronado Island, walked on the beach and spent the rest of the day in Balboa Park visiting museums, holding hands and living in the moment.  It was chilly, but it was an incredibly beautiful day.  It was so easy to get lost in just being with the man of my dreams.

On Coronado Island

A fat Seagull hanging out on a pier.

A monument at the Military Museum in Balboa.  The inscription reads, "You have never lived until  you have almost died.  For those who have fought for it, life has a flavor that the protected will never know." 

Look at that Cupola!  The colors in this structure were incredible!!

Outside of the botanical gardens building.

Inside of the Botanical Gardens.

All of the buildings had similar architecture.  It was breath taking!

Look at those roots!  A couple had just gotten married and was taking pictures down there.

I had to come back home on Sunday so that he could get ready to go and to be home with our princess when she got home from school on Monday.  We headed back down to San Diego that morning and had lunch in Little Italy.  From there we walked the entire Port of San Diego.

Our Flag, a sight that is awe inspiring to me.

The Port of San Diego

My Handsome Hubby studying a war memorial.

This sweet statue is HUGE!

All too soon, it was time for me to fly back home ... alone.  In the airport, he held my face and kissed my forehead as we stood there and, despite trying with all of my might, I couldn't hold back my tears.  You tell yourself you are only saying "see you later,"  but there is a part of you that knows that this could be the last time that you can savor the embrace of the one that you love.  It could be the last time to see the love in their eyes and express that love with a kiss.  Not wanting to let go and choked by emotion, I pull him closer.  He kisses me one last time, turns and walks away.  I watch him go through the glass doors and it is everything I can do not to hit the ground and pray that this is not the end.  On the inside, I feel like every ounce of good and light just walked out that door and I had no way of knowing if it would ever return.  I check the time and my plane leaves in 45 minutes, so I do what every good Marine wife does.  I hold my head up high, turn and walk to the security lines, tears silently falling with every step I take.  I take my seat on the plane and think to myself, " ... and so it beings ... dear God ... please let it be your will that this is just the beginning."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Has This Day Already Come

Today isn’t very reflective of what I am feeling
The sun dances in and out of the clouds, the trees
And I, I sit here reeling
Has this day already come?

I understand the purpose of this long journey
I get that it is far bigger than you, far more than me
So that they can maybe be free
Has this day already come?

I try to untangle my head of thoughts, my heart of feelings
I try to forget the could be, stay positive with great memories
I pray for you to come home to me
Has this day already come?

The fact of the matter is that this all terrifies me
Living this life with out you, that possibility
I dawn a front so they can’t see
Has this day already come?

With all my might I pray that His will be
For swift and safe this treacherous voyage be
Your handsome face soon I can see
Has this day already come?

The sunset paints oranges beyond the trees reach
Reality sets in that only a few hours have we
Before what has to be will be
Has this day already come?

My love for you and faith in you, take heed
Know that I am with you every sight you see
I will wait for you to come to me.
When will that day come?

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Rock, My Love

And so the journey begins.  

I have a strange sense of calm about life at the moment.  I think it is because I was able to face all of the possibilities (the good and the bad) that can come from such an event with the one that I love.  He really is my rock in life.  Simply getting to spend a few days with him made all of this seem a tad bit easier, but alas, it is just the beginning.  

The trick, as I see it, it to stay positive and realistic as the same time.  I see how easy it is to become disillusioned in either direction.  You have to have faith that what ever happens is according to God's plan and be ready for whatever that is.  Past that, you have to keep busy.  For me that includes spending a lot of time with God, taking care of our family and home, and continuing to make our business a success, and finding positive, creative outlets.  It is simply staying busy. 

A little something I came up with on the plane home.  Hope you enjoy.

 I Will Wait For You

As I look out of this plane window
I see the lights of the anonymous city below
The yellow sheen breaks through the cloud bank
Like some long lost civilization beneath the wave break.
In the dark I see the steel bird’s shadow.

As I sit here we lie in the garden green
The wind pulls fragrance to us from the dancing trees
An August sunset we stand before our family, our friends
Two become one, always and forever, until eternity ends.
In the dark I relive the start of our legacy.

As I think over the hours just passed
Each memory speaks of our love destined long to last
I still hear the wind dance around us lost in your embrace
I still hear the ocean sing to us in rhythms, you kiss my face  
In the dark your love traces the distance vast.

As I see the ground come in to view
All I can think of is the perfect life created by two
About to be tested by time and the strife of a distant land
And all I can think of is how lucky I am to be loved by such a man
In the dark, my rock, my love, I will wait for you.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Real Life Fairy Tale

 We all have them and man has it been one of those days.  In theme with last nights blog, sometimes it takes a little shove in the right direction to pull your mood back into alignment.  There is nothing more fitting then reminiscing on how I met my prince charming and our fairy tale came to be.  So here we go ...

Once upon a time, there was a barmaid.  She was nothing spectacular.  Of average looking and  average intelligence, she worked hard and loved harder.  One ordinary day, a gentleman came and sat at her bar.  Earlier in the day a mishap had left a nasty gash on her finger and the gentleman offered to treat the wound in exchange for the barmaid having dinner with him.  Now this went against all of her better judgment, but there was something very different about this man.  It turns out he is a modern day prince charming: handsome, kind, romantic, and slays dragons in the middle east with an M-4.  She accepted his offer very cautiously.  He fixed her finger,they enjoyed dinner and talked throughout the evening, shared a spectacular good night kiss and parted ways. 

Fast forward two months.

The two decided to take a mini vacation together; get out of the city for a few days and get to know each other better without all of the distractions of everyday life.  Both were highly cautious, but extremely excited.  From the moment that they hit I-45 North, it seemed as though they were the lead characters being cast on the silver screen; it literally felt as though the sound track would be cued at any moment.  "If I had a million dollars" started to play on the radio and she turned up her nose.  "This is the most annoying song on the face of the Earth,"  she snarled.  "True,"  he responded, "but, really, who doesn't want a monkey?!?"

They spent a few days exploring the a new city via sights, sounds and tastes.  She bought him a stuffed monkey, because, really, who doesn't want a monkey? They enjoyed an afternoon laying on the perfect, kelly green grass of a promenade her head on his chest.  The cool breeze tossed around the fragrance from the blossomed trees and caused the modern sculptures to sing to them.  They experienced every word of a script written specifically for the two of them, the barmaid and the gentlemen.  Later that evening, at a show, she took a deep breath and grabbed his arm prepared to profess her feelings to him, but fear got the best of her and she managed an awkward smile.

The two traveled their home city for a final night in their adventure.  She wanted to show him one of her greatest passions - performing music.  She was used to singing to a large crowd.  She was able to hide behind the lights.  It would be the first time she would ever sing to one person.  The piano started and the crowed quietened.  Everyone in the room disappeared except for the prince.  The words came ... "25 years of my life and still" ... she had never felt so exposed and connected to someone.  Before she knew it the crowd gave their applause and the song was over.  The bar maid ran back to the prince, grabbed his face and told him how she felt about him.  In their chairs, on their knees, above everyone else and shared the most incredible kiss.  It was official ... he loved her and she loved him.

8 months to the day for which they left for their adventure they were married in a perfect, outdoor military ceremony.  She had officially become a princess and he her prince, always and forever.  I am truly grateful for my husband.  He is all that is good and pure in this world.  It is because of him that every moment of every dawn and thereafter I am blessed with a real life happily every after.

I hope that our story made you smile.  It improved my mood considerably.  I would like to pose a challenge to you.  Leave me a comment and tell me of your favorite moment with your spouse or significant other.  It can be funny or heartfelt.  I will pick a winner on Tuesday and send you something special :0 )  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

All in a Days Work

I have to start out by saying that I was super flattered when Joan, a fellow Etsy shop owner, (Make Me Smile Crafts and BarbiesRUs), said that she was not a blog follower but would was intrigued by more story and intended on following it.  She stated that she had always been curious as to how military spouses handle the distance - this premise spurs the thought of the night.  

I am a huge fan of the premise of mental framing discussed in most intro psychology classes.  The basic gist behind it is that you choose your mental state and mood based on how you choose to react or feel about things that you do, that you witness or that happen to you.  According to this idea, it really is all in your frame of mind.  

Mind you I am not all military spouses so I can only speak for me and from my point of view, but this is how I deal with missing my best friend every second of everyday.

I choose to focus on the big picture.
My husband once told me that war brings out the real side of people.  Whether they are on the battle lines or the home front they will do one of two things - they will run or they will fight.  It all depends on how they view the situation.  To me, war is humbling.  It reminds me just how small I am.  There are so many in this world couldn't even dream of the daily pleasantries that I have and those who give them up for a moment in time so that maybe, one day those people might have the ability to have those liberties.  I choose everyday to be grateful for my circumstances and to be loved by a man who makes such sacrifices.  It is easy to feel sorry for oneself and to get caught up in missing the one you love.  I have to remind myself everyday that this is bigger than me.  It took me a long time to get to that point. 

I choose to take it a day at a time.
I find one thing everyday that reminds me of some perfect moment with my husband - a song, a smell, a shirt.  I count down the days until he comes back home to me.  I choose to believe that he is coming back home to me - period.  A day is much shorter than a year and much easier to face.

I choose to focus on what is important.
We get so caught up in the everyday happenings and dreaming of future greatness that it is easy to lose sight of what is important.   My husband is my heart and soul.  My family is my everything.  My dream is for us to all be back together and grow our family and build our legacy together.  Every second we get together, whether it be leave, an email, a phone call is more important than anything else that we have.  This washing machine will still be broken, the neighbors dog will still be knocking over the trash cans, the house will still need to be cleaned.  It all seems trivial when you look at the big picture.  I choose to put my husband and child before anything.  

What it all comes down to is perspective.  To him, it is just a job and it is business as usual.  So here at home we make it business as usual as it can be.  Choose to focus on the good and positive and you will find you are a much happier person.  Try to find the good in one not so good situation or a few and you will see what I mean.  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Introductions are in order

A cadence can be many things.  

It can be a name.  It can be a chant used to keep time while marching.  It can be a song.  For me, it is all of these things.  Out of the 6,896,714,456 people in the world, 311,977,940 reside within the United States.  2,936,396 of those Americans serve in our Armed Forces with less than .05% of those being Marines.  Everyone has their personal perception of war.  To most, the word "war" evokes incredibly negative emotions and ideals: hate, fear, death, destruction. How you experience war (first hand, second hand, via media outlets or fiction) will color your view and therefore the feelings for which it brings. 

I am a wife to an incredible husband.  I am a mother a inspiring daughter.  I am a musician.  I am an entrepreneur.  I do not know a lot about anything, but know a little about everything.  I am a perfectionist. 

My purpose: to show you a different side of war.

My husband is one of those Marines, and I am a proud member of the silent ranks.  

This is my story.  

This is my cadence.