About Me

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I'm a loving [although sometimes crazy] wife, a [very] loyal friend, a passionate educator, an involved citizen, a sensitive soul, a faithful Christian, a fiery Aries, and a classy lady.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why be a Mean Girl?

I've never really understood girl on girl hate. I think it starts when we're really young, and you're mad because one of your 9 second grade boyfriends is also boyfriends with some other girl in your class. Or there is the little girl in your class that dresses funny and has wild hair that is rarely clean, and since you don't understand empathy, it seems easier to make fun of her than to befriend her. Kids can be painfully honest, and sometimes it goes uncorrected and so we never realize what we're saying is rude and hurtful. And sometimes, we don't even care. We may know exactly what we're saying and know how mean it is, but we are so afraid of becoming the target of the hostility that we keep lashing it out onto others.

We've all known (or been) a girl who blames the "other woman" when their boyfriend cheats instead of remembering that we're in the relationship with him, not her. We've also all known (or been) the girl who was that other girl who may or may not have known he was in a relationship. We've also all known (or been) the girl who stays with the cheater/starts dating the cheater while still being angry and bitter toward the other girl. The reality is - neither girl is on the "right" side of this. Plain and simple - don't place blame and anger where it doesn't belong and don't do something you know is going to hurt someone else. And when it's all said and done, love yourself a little bit more so it doesn't happen to you again no matter which side you're on.

We've all known (or been) the girl who watches the Victoria Secret fashion show screaming "Real women don't look like that!" And, we've all known (or been) the girl who has been called "fat" her whole life and hates herself because she's not that super model. Why can't we all just love each other for whatever shape we're in!? Yes, it's ideal to be healthy, but not because of how you look but instead so we can live our lives doing the things we love to do without fear. Who says we have the right to tell anyone else what they can or cannot eat or what size they should fit into?

We've all known (or been) that girl who is friends with guys, and nothing more, but people call her a "slut" because they don't think girls and guys can just be friends. Who are we to determine what makes someone a "slut" and even if they are by their own decree, why does it matter to us? I was once told by a dance coach (who went on to be arrested for statutory rape, but that's not the point here) that I was "promiscuous with my feelings." Huh? Because I care about people? I care about too many people? Is that actually something that can be measured?

We've all known (or been) the girlfriend (or wife) doesn't believe that girls and guys can just be friends, so you're "not allowed" to maintain a friendship with their now boyfriend or husband. I really don't understand this one. Is it misplaced jealousy? Why can't two people of the opposite sex be friends and nothing more? Where is the trust in your relationship? I've been told "I trust him, but I don't trust her." Well, why? "Just because" is not a good answer.

We've all known (or been) the woman who bitterly says the SAHM doesn't "work." Or, we've all known (or been) that SAHM that just doesn't understand how a woman could work outside the home when she has children to raise. Truly, what difference does it make if some of us stay home and some work and some do both? Why should we be angry or bitter? Are we jealously believing that the grass is greener on the other side? Can't we all just feel grateful that we live a time where we have the choice to stay home or work or whatever?

These are just a few examples of girl on girl hate that all comes from some place that makes no sense to me. I say girl on girl hate because, most of the time, it seems like the anger or blame or whatever is placed on one girl by another girl for no rational or real reason. Is it that we are jealous of the other? Or scared of what is happening in our own lives? Or we feel defensive for some reason?

There are movies and songs about mean girls. You'd think these things would help us realize that the cycle has to end, but it seems that too often, it makes it even more acceptable. There are plenty of news stories out there of teenage girls and their parents defending online or in school bullying with the give-up, "Oh, you know how girls are at this age. They'll grow out of it. It's innocent."

Is it really innocent? Do we ever really grow out of it? Or do we keep finding new ways to be mean girls because it keep us at the top of some imaginary mountain?

I know mean girls who've been mean girls their entire lives and will always be. I know once nice girls who have chosen to become mean girls in their adult lives because they encountered mean girls in their youth and think it's their turn. And I know plenty of mean girls who've realized the error of their ways and have made active efforts to right their wrongs.

See, I used to be a mean girl. I tried for a long time to pretend I wasn't, but now I can look back with time and hindsight on my side and clearly see times that I was downright terrible to people for absolutely no reason. Or sometimes there was a reason, but I refused to work it out in a way that would actually build bridges instead of burn them down. And there were times I was a mean girl because I was afraid that if I stood up to the others, I'd become the next target. Sometimes, that did happen, which made it more and more difficult to do the right thing.

But, I don't want to be a mean girl anymore, ever. I want to be a girl who brings others up. I want to be the girl that inspires others to love instead of hate. I want to remind others that, "While it's nice to be important, it's more important to be nice." I am by no means perfect, and I catch myself too often sliding back in the strange comfort of being mean.

Recently in a post on the Curvy Girl Guide, the author wrote "It's not a competition. There's room for more than one woman to succeed." I've thought this so many times, and it's comforting to read it in a blog that is all about us loving ourselves and embracing other women in this sisterhood of life. We can all succeed and celebrate each other's successes and be the soft place to land when we're not so successful.

In Sugarland's Mean Girls, Jennifer Nettles sings "They'll hate you if you're pretty; They'll hate you if you're not. They'll hate you for what you lack, baby. Then they'll hate you for what you've got." For me, this pretty much sums up the "Mean Girls" phenomenon.

Why do we hate people for lacking something and we also hate them for succeeding?

We make fun of people who are overweight and make angry smirks at supermodels saying they aren't "real women"?

If we've ever been picked on, why do we feel that we are justified to bully someone else?

Why do we live in a world where we support the constant need to one-up the next person? Why do we allow that to happen and join in?

One of my favorite quotes is, "There isn't anyone you couldn't love once you've heard their story." But even still, why do I need to hear their story to love them? Why don't I just love them because it's the right thing to do?  And if they want to share their story, then we can love each other that much more.

When I really stop to think about why I don't like someone, I can rarely point to any reason.

We don't all have to be best friends. We don't have to hang out and have pajama parties. But, we can all be kind to each other. We can all be the positive influence to that kid we don't even know is watching us, looking to us for how they should act.

If I was ever a mean girl to you, I am really very sorry. I hope you'll forgive me.

If you were ever a mean girl to me, I forgive you.

Let's all go forth in love and kindness and stop being mean girls. Let's stop encouraging girl on girl hate. Let's not become mean women. Let's be the role models we should be. There is room for everyone when your heart is full of love.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One of the "Lucky" Military Wives

I'm a military wife. My husband works full time for the TN Air National Guard. And right now, he's deployed.

Luckily, he is in a "safe" place and does a job that is especially "safe." He often jokes that if he ever has to use a weapon as a means of defense, we are in far bigger trouble than we know.

I'm one of the "lucky" ones of all the folks who proudly wear the title of military spouse. We have no human children for him to be away from, and his deployments aren't usually exceptionally long. I'm lucky because I have a career that doesn't have suffer because we aren't required to move every few years. I'm lucky because we are near our families and hometown friends. I fully acknowledge this luck, and I am extremely grateful.

But it seems sometimes that because of this "luck" or other factors people seem to feel that it's perfectly OK to say some pretty careless things to me. I use the word careless because I don't believe that the intention is to be hurtful. Many times people say things because they believe the words to be supportive or encouraging. But, the reality is that they sting, even when sugar coated with the best intentions. It's the same annoyance I feel when I hear someone start a sentence with "No offense, but...."

And sometimes when I hear these things, I want to punch the speaker in the face.

I've felt called to share my thoughts on these phrases people say to me. Please, though, keep in mind that I only represent my own thoughts and feelings and certainly do not feel in any capacity that I represent any other military spouse. Every situation is a little different and all should be respected. This is a generalization that is (thankfully) not directed to any one person or group in particular. Just some thoughts I wanted to share. This is my experience.

With that in mind...Please don't tell me my husband isn't a "real soldier" because he's in the Guard.

A few months ago, a newlywed military spouse wrote a blog post about how those serving in the National Guard were not soldiers and their spouses were not military wives. She ended up getting so much negative response that she blocked all comments. She also got eaten alive in other blogs. Generally, she holds the widely-held belief that to be in the Guard only means one weekend a month and two weekends a year. That may have at one point been true, but I can assure you that it is no longer.

My husband has served in the guard for 9 years and is on his 7th deployment. Every single deployment lasted longer than 2 weeks. He's been to Turkey, Iraq, Ecuador, Guam, and other places. Not all dangerous places, but all places that required him to be away from his family for an extended period of time while serving our country. He is a soldier. A proud one.

Please don't tell me that 70 days (or any other amount of time he is away) "isn't that long."

This is the comment I hear most often, and I truly do believe people mean it as a way to encourage me. However, deep down, it hurts. A lot. In the grand scheme of life, 70ish days isn't that long. But one single day away from my husband hurts me. I hope that all married people feel that way.

And, 70 days is a long time. Consider a baby born 10 weeks early. It would weigh less than 3 pounds and the brain is still in a crucial development stage.

I would feel sorry for your if your spouse went on a 70 day business trip. It's tough to be away from your best friend and the person you love most in the world.

Similarly...Please don't tell me that you know how it feels because your spouse travels all the time.

Again, I know people say this to me to be encouraging and to show sympathy. I have friends whose husbands travel for weeks and months at a time and only get to spend a few days home here and there. I have no idea how they do it. I would be a big ball of sad all the time if that was our situation.

The biggest difference  I see is that I cannot pick up the phone and call my husband unless it's a true emergency. And even that would still take numerous phone calls and several hours. While sometimes he is somewhere he can call every day, the current base he is on only allows three 15 minute "comfort calls" home a month. Luckily this one has wi-fi in some public places so we can FaceTime about once a week, if the signal is strong enough and if we somehow get our schedules to match. Then the conversations last 10 minutes. But, that doesn't always happen.

The bottom line, it's just not the same. Can't we all just agree that it's tough to have a spouse away?

Please don't say "at least he's somewhere safe" because nowhere will ever be as safe as home with me.

Of course there are levels of "safe" with deployments. Sometimes they go to Hawaii. Sometimes they go to Afghanistan. Usually they go somewhere in between. And while a lot of bases are "safe," the reality that we have to have troops there at all is cause for a little bit of concern. Being a military wife has taught me one lesson very well - there is always something going on somewhere that we have absolutely no idea about. The government doesn't send troops overseas to play Draw Something or Apples to Apples all day, so there is obviously a mission that someone thinks is important enough to take my husband away.

Please don't tell me I knew what I was getting into when I married someone in the military.

A fellow military wife sent me piece from this article with the perfect response to this statement we get all the time. It's the perfect response, so I'll just let her words speak.

“Why do military spouses complain ALL the time? They knew what they were getting into when they got married!” A civilian asked me that question recently. And for the first time in my entire life, I came up with the perfect response.

“Women complain about childbirth all the time, too. They get pregnant and they know it’s going to be tough. But a woman doesn’t comprehend the pain until she goes through it. So she screams and moans and recaps that moment years later. But would she rather be childless? No. And that’s just the beginning of the challenges of parenthood. No one tells a mother, ‘You knew motherhood was going to be tough. So shut up about it already.’ But they do that to military spouses all the time.”

Finally - Please don't tell me you're sorry.

I married my best friend. He is my perfect match in every way. I am proud of him, not sorry about our situation in this moment. Even when I'm sad, I'm not sorry. Tell me you're proud of him. Say you appreciate his service.

Then take me out for a glass of wine.

Monday, February 6, 2012

An Unforgettable Voice

When P and I started dating in August of 2008, we took things slow. We didn't meet each other's families at first and instead took the time to really get to know each other outside of the college setting in which we first met. If you remember, P never took girlfriends home to meet his parents before me. Ever. And, I'd only introduced a select few boyfriends to mine. It never crossed my mind that my Granny wouldn't meet my future husband.

At the end of October, my mom called me and told me I needed to come home to say goodbye to my Granny. She'd been ill for years but always fought back. Fought back through breast cancer, diabetes, congestive heart failure, a triple bypass, regular dialysis treatments, and even moments of dementia. She was a strong lady. So, it just never really occurred to me that she might not be around to meet my husband and dance at my wedding. So when my mom called, I came straight back to Tennessee and to my Granny. As she laid in a bed at the hospice care center, I knew I needed to tell her that I'd be ok. Every time she'd been sick before, she told me she was staying alive to watch her granddaughters get married. She wanted to know that each of us was taken care of the way Grampa had taken care of her. They were married for 55 years when she passed away.

So, I sat there with her and told her about P. I told her that he was a kind, warm, thoughtful man who really loved me. I promised her that he would take care of me and always watch over me, so she didn't need to worry about me. I also told her not to worry about the rest of the grand kids because I knew we'd all find love and that she could always watch our weddings from the best seats Heaven has to offer.

I also told my Granny that I loved P. At this point, I hadn't actually told him yet. And, even though I had no idea where our future was leading, I knew in that moment that I was not telling even the smallest of white lies to my Granny. P would take care of me, and I'd take care of him.

During the next few days, I spent all my time with family. P asked if I wanted him to come, and even though I wanted him by my side, I didn't him to meet my family in those circumstances. He fully respected that and always offered a soft place to land when I came home exhausted from the day. That week, I told P that I loved him - 5 days after I'd told my Granny.

Fast forward 3 years, and the world looks really different. P and I are married, my cousin Hannah is married, and another cousin, Ashley, is tying the knot on our 1 year anniversary. The other 2 girls are in long-term relationships, and the boys, well, they're not quiet ready. We've found people to watch over us and love us. And, I know Granny has been watching our lives unfold from her vantage point in the clouds.

This past week, our family made the tough decision to move my Grampa into an assisted living home. It's really the best option for him so he can socialize, get help quickly when he needs it, and be taken care of in a way that family just can't. They cook him meals, have happy hour, and even allowed his dog to move in with him. So now the family is trying to go through his condo so we can take him all the things he needs from home. We're also sorting through the 80 years of life he's led, which is quite a daunting task! Let's just say that he and Granny saved everything.

While cleaning off the end table by his recliner, we found a little voice recorder you can use to remind yourself of an errand or a grocery list. We hit play and my Granny's voice filled the room. It was a message to herself to ask her doctor something during the next dialysis appointment. He'd kept it for all this time, we assume just to hear her voice. Her voice is also still on the answering machine greeting. Just little reminders of the woman he's loved his whole life. The woman he snuck off to Georgia to marry. The woman who he would be celebrating 58 years of marriage with today. Such amazing, powerful love.

It's amazing to think about such love in our time. In a time when so many marriages don't make it. In a time where we have become so selfish that the thought of considering another person equal to or more important than ourselves is unthinkable. Yet, there it is. Right in front of us.

So, P never got to meet my Granny. But this weekend, he got to hear her voice. He gets to visit with my Grampa, and he gets to know through Grampa's stories about how they played a huge part in raising me. Sharing this time I have left with my Grampa with P lets him see a side of me he's never seen before. A vulnerable little girl who just wants to land in the arms of someone who loves her.

Here's hoping and wishing and praying for 55+ years with P. Here's hoping we never forget the power of each other's voices, even when separated by death.

Friday, January 20, 2012

On Being Friends with Ex's

I have always been the girl who has a lot of guy friends. I'm also the girl who has stayed friends with ex-boyfriends after a break up. Just a couple of Sundays ago I posted something on Facebook about my church being pretty full of New Year's resolutioners, and two of the three serious boyfriends I had before P came into my life commented on it. Last October, I had a conference in St. Louis, which is also home to my "first love", and I made it a point to visit him and his family while I was in town. I don't see anything wrong or inappropriate with any of this. Neither does P.

So many people find this strange. I have plenty of friends and have read plenty of articles that say "Staying friends with your ex is dangerous!" or "I would never stay friends with anyone who's seen me the slightest bit naked before!" Well, unless your ex is actually a dangerous person, you should be safe. And, if I wasn't friends with anyone who has seen me at least partially naked then my parents wouldn't speak to me, half my girlfriends would've disowned me, and I'd have to find a new massage therapist every month. Way too exhausting.

This is the truth: I've dated some pretty decent guys. I've been serious about 4. They are all kind, educated, and thoughtful gentleman. Just because it didn't work out between us doesn't make them (or me) a bad person. And even though the romance ended, they are still the wonderful guys I'd become friends with when I first met them. I call them every year on their birthdays. I will probably continue to do this for a long time. Maybe (hopefully) forever.

P also happens to be friends with girls he used to date. Heck, I'm friends with girls P has dated in the past.

I'm writing this because I've noticed that this is a huge issue with several of my friends in their relationships, and I've always found it interesting how people can have such drastically different experiences. I know people who've been seriously hurt and found a way to forgive. I also know people who don't remain friends with an ex on the principal of the matter. Whatever works for you - I support you completely! This works for me.

I also get told how "weird" I am because I'm friends with exes. Maybe I am, but I'm probably a bit weird for many, many different reasons.

I've also been the girl-friend (not even an ex-girlfriend, just a friend who happens to be a girl) of a guy whose wife forbids him to talk to me or any other girl beyond her friends and his guy friend's wives. I do not understand the hatred or annoyance. But, that's a whole different blog post.

Of course there are reasons for folks not to remain friends with an ex:
1 - Mental or physical abuse.
2 - Drug or extreme alcohol problems.
3 - They are a source of drama in your life.
4 - You can't get over them emotionally. Or vice versa.
5 - They kicked your dog.
6 - More that I can't name because it has just never happened to me.

Maybe I'm lucky. The only hurt I've been is the normal break-up pain. I realize that this probably doesn't happen for everyone, but I consider myself lucky to have known good guys and still know them in our post-relationship life. One of them is married with two beautiful children. My heart could not be happier for him. Another has found the girl he will likely marry someday. I get so excited when I hear about their happiness. Just like when I hear about pretty much everyone's happiness.

The reality is that P and I chose each other. We had other opportunities and potential life partners and knew each other through many, many relationships. But, we chose each other. We wouldn't have chosen each other if either were insanely jealous or harbored crazy amounts of resentment. It's just the way we fit.

I hope that when we have children and they date people, they have the opportunity to meet nice men and women. I hope that if it doesn't work out with those men and women, they don't place more blame or anger on the ex or themselves that is truly unwarranted. I hope that they can remain friends - if they want to. There is no one-size fits all experience.

Maybe it's just because I like being friends with pretty much everyone, and that includes people who've hurt me and people I've hurt. We're human. We make mistakes in friendships and romantic relationships. I hope we just don't let it scar us too much.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year, More Blog Commitment

We just celebrated our first holiday season as a married couple. It was wonderful to start new traditions and find a balance that worked for our newly formed family!

Speaking of balance - I'm trying to find a better balance. Part of this balance will be a renewed commitment to blogging. I'll still be talking about the happenings of me and P, but I'll also be rambling about random issues that are important to me.

Topics may:
- Why everyone should do service
- How teaching makes me a better student
- What it's like to be a military wife
- P's deployment to Qatar this year
- Girl on girl hate and why it needs to chill already
- On being friends with ex's
- Being comfortable in your own skin
- Other blogs I love
- Weddings and babies of dear friends
- My office's health challenge
- My 10 year high school reunion
- Whatever pops into my random brain

Got anything you want to see me ramble about?