Tag Archive | military life

Deployment Support in the Civilian World

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Many, if not most, military wives go through deployment living around others who totally “get it.” They live on post near other families in their unit, or they at least live in the vicinity of the installation where the military population is quite high. However, this is Mark’s second deployment and the second time that I’ve gone through deployment in a civilian setting. Since college graduation, I’ve been living at home with my parents and younger siblings so I could pay extra on my hefty student loans and not bring SO much debt into our marriage.

While being around family during a deployment is a great thing, it is also very different from living within a military community. They see what I go through, yet I understand and accept that they will never truly “get it.” So I have had to make an extra effort to gain military-related support during Mark’s tours of duty. For some this might be a daunting task, but because I love people it has been an adventure! For those who are a little more shy about meeting new people, reading blogs, books, and joining online communities is a good start. (A great resource is Everyone Serves: A Handbook for Family & Friends of Service Members.) Recently I found a Meetup group called the DFW Military Wives, Fiancees, and Girlfriends Network. They have events in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex for military families from all branches! Sometimes the get-togethers are as simple as having finger foods, cracking open a bottle of wine, and chatting for hours on end. But doing that is so comforting for a military wife’s heart! The other ladies can understand exactly what you are experiencing and can give advice on how to deal with difficult situations. I also began this blog during Mark’s first deployment and am now the Blog Assistant Coordinator for the Army Wife Network‘s Loving a Soldier blog as well.

Deployment is also an opportune time to improve myself and accomplish important goals. The first time around, my general goal was to find extra work and make more money to pay off a large chunk of student loans. In those five months (November 2011-April 2012), I paid off over $12,000 in debt (which included paying off my car)! During this deployment, I wanted to be more specific and varied with my goals. They include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Finish saving for our church ceremony and wedding reception (DONE!)
  • Reduce my student loan debt to $55,000 (which entails continuing to do extra work…after college graduation 4 years ago, I had $140,000 in debt)
  • Read 1-2 personal/career development books per month
  • Connect with at least 2 friends per month
  • Blog 2-3 times per week
  • Take 10 Krav Maga self-defense classes
  • And of course, actually set a date and PLAN our wedding so we can have it very soon after he returns!

Everyone Serves elaborates on how to cultivate a healthy level of self-care, on pages 56-63. Spending time with friends is something I needed to actually schedule this time. I have a tendency during deployment to work until I am burned out, so I learned the hard way that it is important to just chill out sometimes. I also gain strength from my faith and prayer. What happens to Mark during deployment is totally out of my control, and so my faith sustains me when times get rough. I also make sure to recognize that what I CAN control are my own actions and goals, and I focus on improving myself each day.

~Malori~

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Last Friday (8/9/13), I toured the George W. Bush Presidential Library with my friends Ashley and Carolyn. It was great!

Follow Blue Star Families on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and build a support network so you can keep your family and personal community strong throughout the duration of the entire deployment life cycle.

Please click HERE to view my disclosure statement, in compliance with FTC guidelines.

Blue Star Families: Everyone Serves Blog Series Premiere

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Welcome to the Blue Star Families deployment series!  Every week for the next five months, I and four other military spouse bloggers will be writing about our experiences with the deployment process in conjunction with the e-book Everyone Serves.  I’d first like to give a huge thank you to BSF for accepting me as a blogger and to my Army Wife Network colleagues for letting me know about this opportunity!  I’d also like to give a shout-out to the other military wives participating in this series: Jennifer, Jacey, Julie, and Reda.  Please check out their bios HERE!

Until a few years ago, I never thought I’d be an Army wife.  The military just wasn’t something familiar to me.  I was born and raised near Dallas, was homeschooled until college, and had a serious relationship with my violin, which I’ve played since three years of age.  The violin was my childhood passion, so I made the decision to pursue a degree in violin performance.  I graduated from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in 2009, returning to Texas because I got a desk job.  I got into a normal routine: working at the office, exercising (sometimes), paying my student loans on time, spending time with family and friends, reading, being a news junkie.  I was comfortable and settled….

…until I was introduced to the military.  Mark and I met online in March 2010, and a few weeks later, we met in person for a date.  He drove three hours to meet me, and that in itself was impressive!  However, I also was impressed by his intellect, his passion for our common beliefs, and his dedication to his job as an Army officer.  (Oh yes, small detail – his looks were quite striking as well!)  That first date led to many more, and a few months later, we knew that we had met “the one.”  We were engaged in December 2010, and this month (June 2013) we tied the knot at the courthouse.  Upon his return from deployment, we will have our church wedding and then ride happily into the sunset.

But, as we all know, military life is never that easy.  Deployment inevitably returns.  Lives are in danger.  Stress is a daily visitor.  The word “Afghanistan” pops out in the news like a neon sign.  But yet, we continue to live this life – not just in survival mode, but in thriving mode.  From the beginning of my military journey with Mark, I looked upon it as the biggest adventure of my life, as a unique opportunity to rise to its challenges.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve experienced moments of feeling completely overwhelmed – but at some point, there is a chance to coast down the other side of the mountain.

This, our second deployment, has just begun – and I have to say that saying goodbye the second time around is much harder than the first.  But what is exciting to me is this: I also have the chance to share my experiences so that others won’t feel alone in the tough times.  I have an opportunity to serve my country and fellow military spouses by opening up my heart through the passion I have for writing.  For that, I am truly honored and grateful.

~Malori~

Follow Blue Star Families on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and build a support network so you can keep your family and personal community strong throughout the duration of the entire deployment life cycle.

Please click HERE to read my disclosure statement, in compliance with FTC guidelines.

Military Mondays: It’s the Way Things Are

Welcome back to Military Mondays!  There’s been some pretty significant military happenings in my life recently.  The best part is that The Warrior got promoted last Monday!  Both his brother and I got to be at the ceremony and it was such a special time.  I even got to pin his new rank on his jacket, while his commander pinned his hat.  The Warrior and his superiors all gave fabulous speeches (but of course The Warrior’s was the best one!), and afterwards the Chick-fil-A catering that he ordered was a HUGE success.  (He has apparently set the precedent in the troop!)  After the ceremony, The Twin Warrior and I hung out in The Warrior’s office while he got his new ID card made….and boy, was that the funniest thing ever!  His brother posed as him and TOTALLY had the soldiers fooled!  They would stop in and shake his hand, saying congratulations….and one of them even came in with a task to be completed.  (“Sir, this certificate needs to be completed by 1500 tomorrow for such-and-such.”  “Roger that.”  I had to contain myself from laughing out loud!) 

Pinning on his new rank!

Pinning on his new rank!

Another exciting thing is that we have started wedding “pre-planning” as I call it!  Now before you all get excited, nothing is set in stone yet.  I’m not revealing anything specific yet to the general public except that we will be getting married in 2014….which is so darn exciting!  This has been a long time coming.  However, this weekend as we were discussing things, I was again reminded of what kind of circumstances we are dealing with: it’s the military life.  Of course, me being the bride, the dreamer, and the planner, I was all excited because it seemed that things were falling into place….but in actuality, things are still fluid – very fluid.  The Warrior has his ideal career plan in place, but there are many variables.  The reality is that the earliest we will be able to “set a date” (meaning, secure a date with the church and reception venue) is 6 months ahead.  That is just the way things are.

I will be shamefully honest: when he laid this truth out there, I felt resistant for a little bit.  I did my best to curb my tongue….but the truth is that I didn’t like the idea of having a loosy-goosy time frame.  I wanted to have a firm date set, now.  But one sentence that still resonates with me is when he said, firmly but with love, “We’re not working with civilian circumstances here.  This is how it’s done in the military.”

Yes.  I really needed that reminder.  Things have been so awesome lately – his promotion, we’ve been seeing each other more often, we can finally start on things like going to look at reception venues and making the wedding budget – that I started to forget about the mundane part.  I realized, as I contemplated what I was going to write today, that my life is split right now: I have one foot in the civilian world and one foot in the military world.  I’m living the civilian life day-to-day, but yet I am committed to a military relationship as an Army wife-to-be.  It’s a unique situation to be in.  I also was reminded of another fact that may seem harsh to dual civilian couples (aka normal people): the military comes before one’s own wishes.  Philosophically-speaking, the correct order of things is God, family, Army…and that is how it is our hearts.  That is the way we strive for things to be.  But when you get down to the nitty-gritty, everyday circumstances, the military loves to be #1.  Yes, even before wedding plans.  Even before what the spouse wants.  Especially with military cut-backs looming and Afghanistan shutting down, when an opportunity presents itself (like training school or a deployment) a soldier must take it….with the spouse supporting him 100%.

I’m not writing about this to complain, or to make people pity me or other military families…far from it!  I am writing it so civilians can understand the sacrifices we make…even those of us who are not fully recognized by the military as being a “somebody.”  We put our hopes, dreams, and life goals on hold, sometimes indefinitely, so our servicemembers can do what they do best: serve the country.  I don’t mean to have one hint of romanticism in that statement, either.  After I thought about how I had spoken a bit selfishly (after all, we were headed to confession and Mass during that conversation), I decided to hold my head high with renewed strength and (attempted) selflessness.  I do admit that the Army makes circumstances more difficult, but there is no point in complaining about it – it’s the way things are.  A spouse who can’t accept that she is not #1 doesn’t have a good chance of survival.  (The joke that wives oftentimes make is that “he’s married to the military, I’m just the mistress.” lol)

This is probably my most favorite picture so far with the twins!

This is probably my most favorite picture so far with the twins!

(Sometimes I wonder if I go too far with blocking out ranks and unit patches and not using their real first names….)

 

Twins and best friends :)

Twins and best friends :)

The military life is a test of character.  I am a cup-half-full type of person, and it makes me wonder how cup-half-empty people get through it.  That would just be way too depressing!  There are SO many positive things in this life, and they definitely outweigh the negatives….otherwise, no one would serve!  Honestly, I would not want life any other way even if I had the power to change it.  I look at civilian friends and acquaintances who have settled down in one place, have started families, have their “forever home with a white picket fence”….and I think, that’s pretty nice and idyllic….but I’d be bored!  I’m ready to see the world alongside my soldier…as much as I love Texas, I’m ready to have an adventure!  We are too young to settle down yet.  The Warrior has a list of his top 10 duty stations and I’d be excited to live at any of them.  The important thing is that we go through the adventure of Army life together….and that point of our lives is really just around the corner!

~Malori~

I am SO very proud and happy! :)  Life is very good!

I am SO very proud and happy! :Life is very good!

 

Milspouse Friday Fill-in #5

It’s Friday!  (Okay, I just can’t resist posting this before I go to the Q&A: click HERE if you want some military humor!)

And it’s the first Friday of the month, which means Wife of a Sailor has posted new Friday Fill-in questions!  Here are my answers:

 

1. What’s one thing in the past month you would have changed? 

This is always a hard question for me to answer…and it’s probably a question I should avoid, because I know it’s not good to get bogged down with “I should have’s.”  But I guess if I have to choose, it would be to have budgeted my time better so I could’ve blogged more.

2. What was your favorite thing that happened in September? 

My favorite thing that happened in September was having a long Labor Day weekend with The Warrior in town! :)

3. Sometimes I like to sit on my couch and eat NUTELLA from a TUPPERWARE CONTAINER with a HANDFUL OF ALMONDS.  (Question courtesy of Just Another Snarky Navy Wife)  Oh yeah, you can’t go wrong with Nutella!

4. What was your favorite childhood Halloween costume? (Courtesy of Random Army Wife)

I think my lady bug costume is terribly cute!  My mom sewed it (as she did my Halloween costumes every year growing up) and I wore it for my first and second Halloweens.  Here I am in 1987, my first Halloween:

Malori the Lady Bug!

Ready to go trick-or-treating with my mom! (She is 31 here…just a few years older than my current age! Wow….and look at my fat face…I was a healthy, chunky little thing!)

5. What are you looking forward to in October?

Halloween candy!  LOL just kidding (although one can never have enough chocolate….).  I have SO much to look forward to during October!  My schedule is jam-packed and I absolutely love it that way.  Tomorrow, I am taking a ladies beginner handgun class with two friends from work; I am playing a wedding gig in a couple weeks; AND, probably the most exciting of all, I am traveling to a swing state for a few days to campaign for R&R!  I am absolutely pumped…I’ve never done anything like this before, but I am excited and honored to be promoting the freedoms and values I hold so dear, and which The Warrior defends as a service member.  I view it as my own way of serving the country and standing behind him.  And then, at the beginning of November, I FINALLY get to see my soldier after him being away at training for a month! :D

Life is good….smile, be thankful, and live every day to its fullest.  The military life has definitely helped me to better see the positive more often!

~Malori~

Milspouse Friday Fill-in #4

To start off today’s post, here are some questions from last September posted at Wife of a Sailor:

1. I always feel like I’m 22 years old [I guess!!], but in reality I’m 25.  –I don’t feel how I thought, when I was younger, a 25 year old would feel. lol

2. I wish my family understood better when I tell them about military stuff (acronyms, etc.)….they are getting better though! ;)

3. If you saw me when I get dressed up for work, you’d think I was a total girly-girl, but if you saw me when I watch war movies, you’d think I was a tom-boy through-and-through.  –Going to watch “Act of Valor” tonight!  Although I think a girl watching war movies is not really a tom-boyish thing to do…I watch them because I’m engaged to a soldier! ;)

4. I feel like I’m in a totally different universe when I’m on a military installation.  (I’m never on it much, so when I am it’s like, “Oh wow, cool!  Look at the tanks!  And that’s the commissary, right??” haha)

5. In honor of this being MFF #60 [on Wife of a Sailor’s blog, of course]….60 months ago (exactly 5 years ago, so September 28, 2007) I lived in Baltimore, MD and my life was totally different because I was an immature college junior and had not yet met The Warrior or been introduced to the military life!

~ ~ ~

I have missed writing these past couple weeks!  Life has seriously been NUTS.  I have 2 at-home projects I’m working on (addressing envelopes for a direct mail company) in addition to my 40-hours-a-week group sales job; I teach violin 3 nights out of the week; and I volunteer at the USO once a week.  With all that, I’ve been getting an average of 4-5 hours of sleep a night with NO time for writing!

Today began a period of very limited communication with The Warrior.  He headed off to a month-long training (as an observer/evaluator), and according to research I’ve done online, Ft. Middle-of-Nowhere doesn’t always have good cell phone reception.  So if I get one or two calls from him between now and the end of October, I will be thrilled!!  I’ve calculated that it is 36 days until we see each other again, so I have the countdown on my calendar and cross off each day as it passes.  While he’s gone, I’m going to be doing work, work, and more work….it’s how I handled deployment, so I began getting into that “workaholic” mindset this past week.  However, I started off this weekend with a “me day”: left work early since I’m working Sunday, got a free mini-facial at the store Origins (they always offer them, by the way, so stop in!), browsed through wedding books at Barnes & Noble, worked out for awhile at the gym (elliptical, abs, and upper body weights), and then took myself to Chick-fil-a for dinner.  I sat at a booth, ate fruit and a chicken sandwich without the bun (no gluten!), and read devotionals out of Praying God’s Word for Your Husband.  It is very comforting to say specific prayers for The Warrior that stem directly from the Bible, and so I prayed for his safety and positive interaction with the soldiers at training.  Last week I had also written about 7 mini-letters for him to read every few days while he’s there.  If we can’t talk, at least he can read love notes from me. :)

As noted above, I rented Act of Valor to watch tonight…I tend to watch more war movies when The Warrior is gone.  (During deployment, I scoured the Netflix account for all the interesting war movies and documentaries!  It was a way for me to feel more connected to him…to feel like I was learning about what our soldiers do for us.)  We’ve been very lucky lately to spend more weekends with each other than not, and I will miss him…but when we are reunited in November I will have an even deeper appreciation and love for him!  Be safe, my hero. :)

A quick snapshot last weekend (with my iPhone) before he left…..