The Ladies on the Boosters Board

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cosmo   Despite my better judgement I have managed to get myself into two fairly large volunteer positions in the last few months. It’s like I can’t stand getting paid to work.  It’s like a tick. One of these positions just so happens to be a board position for the Boosters of my kids’ gymnastics team. It’s been a few years since I’ve held an actual board position, and if memory serves, I didn’t love every minute of it. I’m pretty sure I swore off this type of volunteering. But then the bat signal was displayed in the form of an email  from someone I don’t even know.  I showed up to a parent meeting and after a few “I nominate”s and “I second”s  I was voted in as incoming President with the rest of the new board. They didn’t even ask to see my qualifications. I should have known I was in trouble when I realized the secretary reminded me of Chelsea Handler. And so it begins…

As most volunteer type meetings I’ve ever been a part of, this one started off small and icey. I think there were a total of 6 parents to include three board members, me (a total newb) and two other parents. The entire meeting consisted of an awkward discussion about the clusterfuck  they call “The Books”, a few curt comments about upcoming events and me volunteering to chair an event that was happening in 10 days. I think I offered up my planning expertise just to cut the tension in the room. And because I’m ignorant. And the next thing I knew the meeting was over. Or at least it appeared over, because everyone started gathering up their notes. Did I miss the gavel strike and the “meeting adjourned” announcement I assumed happened at these fancy type board meetings? What the hell did I just get myself into?

As I sat there gathering up my notes and jumbled thoughts a low discussion was happening. Did I just hear someone mention drinks? I leaned in closer to better eavesdrop. Ok, I’m pretty positive I just heard them say “drinks” again. Just as I was about to say a prayer for and invitation and for “drinks” not to mean infused water I hear an “ahem” type of cough in front of me.

Looks-like-Chelsea says, “you in?” It was more if a dare than an invitation.

“Where are you bitches going”, I coyly responded, trying not to let on that I’m giddy. Seriously. It felt like I had been picked second for the schoolyard dodgeball battle; so exciting I had to fight back a beaming grin and crazy eyes. This never happened in real life. Ever.

“We’re gonna grab a drink. Just one. And we can discuss Boosters”. She had me at “Cough-ahem-cough”.

I looked at my phone calendar very important-like, and then the time, to make sure I didn’t have anything more pressing (I absolutely didn’t)…

” I am pretty parched”.

We all agree to head over the the closest and most convenient Happy Hour- which like a total mom-cliche’ just so happened to be at the local burger chain.  I saddled up to the pub table , ordered my drink and engage in informative, if not somewhat gossipy conversation. Through the course of the hour-ish, I discover that these ladies are intelligent, funny, very nice and seem to be able to keep their cuckoo in check even after downing the “large” drinks. And best of all is they seem to like me.

I begin to imagine the next year being like episodes of SATC, where we sit around some happy hour table discussing super important board stuff. Fundraiser planning and Cocktails. Beer and Budgets. Am I the Carrie? Who’s the Samantha? And was Chelsea Handler ever in that show? I don’t even know why I’m referencing SATC, I’ve only seen like 10 episodes. All I know is this is going to be the best volunteering ever!!

 

8 days later, I am given the backhanded compliment of “congratulations” and “you’re brave!” by a slightly jaded gym parent. This is followed by 20 minutes of complaining about the board. What. The. Shit. At that moment I realize I am not Carrie and this is not Sex and The City. This is 30 rock and I’m not-yet-officially a fire-putter-outer. . At least I get to be Tina Fey. Blurgh.

 

Networking for the SAHM

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This past week I had the pleasure of going to a few classes and meetings regarding what it is going to be like to be a spouse in TGILW’s new field. Jeeze Loooouise! Overwhelming, to say the least. It was the usual round table of wives who are already feeling either intimidated  or superior (based on husbands rank, previous duty station and FRG involvement) and a  guest speaker who has to be ridiculously politically correct. It always starts with a few monologues from a higher ranking (male) superior who isn’t very good with talking to spouses/civilians and tends to drop one too many acronyms for the  my taste. I don’t follow military jargon as closely as some of my peers because A) I  usually don’t care ,B) I don’t think it makes me smarter or superior to others (literally saw a woman roll her eye when another wife asked what “IRT” stood for) C) if I don’t know and need to, I can ask or Google. And it usually has some sort of “introduce yourself” segment. DISLIKE. I haaaaaaaate them. It’s uncomfortable to watch and to participate in. And this time I was in a room of like 50 spouses. Like I’m going to remember anyones name/where they are going/ interesting fact. I remembered 2. Names, that is. Blurgh.

Anyways… fast forward to the end of the week, and we have a Mock Embassy reception to attend.( Some of you who follow my personal  FB page got a spoiler to my Dressing like an Adult series… lucky!!) The whole point of the reception was to network with your peers and learn how to work a room, so to speak. What I discovered was pretty amazing, and it opened my eyes on how people perceive you.

When we first arrived, we noticed there was an issue with name tags, and there were a few students who hadn’t yet changed into their business attire, as they were working the event. TGILW stepped in to help, and I offered to help him help. Somewhere between finding extra plastic name tag holders and getting the tags to the reception table I got stuck in the “working zone”. So I just mingled with the few students I knew and helped people find their name tags, or directed them on how to get tags made. I had two wives comment on this “volunteering”. The first immediately became my new BFF and chatted me up ,  the second actually asked if my husband would get extra credit for my help. While I was technically helping, I guess, I was really just a prisoner of a blocked exit.

I also had another spouse ask me how I knew so much more about the program than she did and proceeded to ask me a ton of questions. I had to stop her at one point and reiterate that I don’t know much about anything. But I would be happy to help her find the answers. Every time I asked TGILW or someone else in the small group surrounding us to answer her question, she thanked ME.

Later in the evening, as I was mingling, I introduced myself to a woman who had made an absolutely hilarious comment during the “introduce yourself” part of the class.  Her straightforward humor was right up my alley and I had to meet her. She , in turn said the same thing to me, and we went on to chat happily about how ridiculous we felt in general about the previous week. But then she said something that really hit home, and I realized the evenings string of events were connected. She said, holding her pregnant belly, that she was at a crossroads of sorts on the Stay at Home Mom situation. She felt like her working peers felt she wasn’t living up to her potential, but her stay-at-home peers didn’t support her desire to stay “plugged in” to her education and career. And she asked ME my opinion. I don’t know if it was my business attire or my demeanor that made so many people see me as someone who knew shit about shit, but for some reason I seemed important.

And this is what I said to her:

My mother had asked me what I would do if TGILW left me, as I am and have been a Stay at Home Mom for nearly 13 years now. She isn’t the only person to broach the  “What If’s” or to make comments that “since I don’t work…”. But this is more a commentary on how society views those of us who don’t draw a paycheck, right? So my answer first is, I will be fine.

But then, with voracity I explain that I DO work.  I have been a volunteer for 15 years. I have the awards and accolades to prove it. And just because they don’t come in the form of money doesn’t make them less beneficial. And even more than that, I am a full time mom, so yes, my schedule is flexible, but I can assure you work is involved.  I DO have marketable skills as I have worked within a variety of organizations, doing  a plethora of different jobs, therefore acquiring experience and know-how. I have had to learn how to deal with type A personalities ,Type B personalities  and people with no personalities and I have managed to get them to all work together productively.   I AM smart. While I don’t have a major degree to make me look good on paper, I have real world experience and on the job training. I also have wit and moxie. Two things often mistaken for intelligence.  But almost more importantly, I DO know people. I have worked with Fortune 500 companies, local businesses, startups and nonprofits. I have been involved in my communities both civilian and military. And I still follow a lot of those companies and people.

“You will also be fine”, I said to her. “Even if you don’t take my path, you have an education, and you, too ,will gain experience through life. Stay involved, and meet people. Find something you’re honestly passionate about and do that. Eventually the kids grow up and the husband retires and we all need something to call our own. If that something leads you to a career, then great!”

I’m not going to lie, those questions used to really piss me off. And sometimes, they still sting a little, especially when I’m in a situation where I can’t tell the person being an idiot to fuck off. It’s irritating that, because I don’t hang my awards or wear my achievements,people assume so much about me before they know me based on my lack of income.

I have worked with groups that have change my outlook on life. I have worked with groups that have made me scream into my pillow in frustration. I have been given a medal, and I have been told I was a terrible person. My years of service have not been without failure and resentment. But it is something I enjoy. You take the good with the bad, just like any “job”.  I like that I can take my job with me, wherever I go. And I know, If I really needed to, I could parlay my experience into a paying gig. I could call in a favor, or seek out availability through my peers. Through my network.

Sure, there are plenty of people who won’t buy into the power of non-paid work. Who believe networking only helps if you and your network are degreed professionals. Or who don’t want to “waste time” doing volunteer work. So I decided to pull my volunteer stuff box out from the garage and rifle through one binder of my wasted time. At the risk of sounding conceited and arrogant, read ’em and weep:

...and it's been in my front room window for nearly 4 straight years now... never turned off or moved in all that time!

 

 

 

School Volunteer/ PTA

2  VIP Volunteer  awards

Volunteer of the month award

2 Golden Acorn Awards

And aside from those “Thank You’s” I have training in

Lockdown procedures

Non-profit Organizations

Library Aid

Special Events/Catering

Fundraising

Working with children with special needs

 

Army/ FRG 

The Ivy Spouse Award

Kit Carson Volunteer Service Award

Commanders Award for Public Service  << That’s a medal.

I have service coins, plaques or Certificates of Appreciation from every Duty Station we’ve been to.

And aside from those “Thank You’s” I also have:

Certifications of Training for

FRG Readiness

FRG Leadership

Treasurer for non profit

Care Team 

Key Caller

Food Handler

As well as being part of an Emergency GO TEAM,  Food Team and Steering committees.

I have also sat on the board of my local PTA (two different schools) WOKC 5k Event (fundraising), and a Roller Derby start up, where I also announced.

I also have a Blog.

Maybe this seems like a bunch of mom bullshit, or even something that can’t be used in this economy. Or maybe, from talking to me about random things I have been involved in, I had five different people ask for my information. Will it lead to  paycheck? Probably not, as I’ve got my hands full with life already. Will it lead to more opportunities for me to better myself? Most likely. But it definitely led to networking.

And all from my non-paid job as a Stay At Home Mom

 

 

5 Tips on how to have a kick ass time

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As a military spouse, you will most likely find yourself at some sort of event be it formal, casual or in between. Most of the time you’ll go with your husband (or wife) but some you may go sans soldier. I’m going to let you in on a few of my tried and true tips to keep you from wasting the $20 (or $80)  you dropped on the ticket to these functions. Trust me. I know my shit. 

Tip 1 – Seek out fun people – Often times there is a seating arrangement.  You may find yourself sitting at a table with people you don’t really know. Or dullards. Dullards are the worst. If you crack more than three jokes without more than a giggle from your table mates, seek a new table. But what about the name cards? Move them. Yes, move those stupid pieces of paper. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. I’ve done this a few times. Make sure you do it before the names you’re moving have shown up. Otherwise it may get awkward. If you’re alone, which is tough, look for someone you know and infiltrate their group*. I totally just did this and it was awesome. I went from a table of people I barely new to new friends having a good time.

*If you attempt this, YOU better be fun. If you’re a Debbie Downer or a total drag, just stay at the dullard table.

Tip 2 – The bar. Do I think you have to drink to have a good time? No. Do I think you have to drink at a military function to have a good time? Yes. Why? Because they tend to be a little awkward, Most of the time you’re surrounded by your Spouses work compadres, not really your own. They tend to be formal and there are rules and traditions and such. There is nothing wrong with a little liquid courage. Not a big drinker? Have a glass of wine, try a new fruity drink. You’re dressed up, the kids are with a sitter, it’s OK to cut loose a little. But for craps sake,know your limits! As for me, if you’ve lost me look here first! I love the bar. Make nice with the bartender. Tip them well and treat them right. I always start up conversation. My drinks are better and they’re more likely to remember what I’m having. I’ve gotten quite a few freebies this way.

Tip 3 – Just dance. Whiter than rice? Rhythm skipped your generation? Who the eff cares? Go back to Tip 2, grab your ladies or a wallflower clinging to her chair and shake what your momma gave you! It’s fun. I promise you, once you’re out on the floor, you won’t care. I fuck up the electric slide every time. The Cupid Shuffle? Who cares if you don’t know your right from your left? No one. Someone next to you will help you out! Once the music starts, my shoes come off, my ass starts shaking and I’m one hot sweaty mess. Try not to show your crotch, or have have your boobs pop out of your strapless dress and all should be fine.

size matters

Tip 4 – Find a giant cock. Or strike a pose. Whatever your thing is, capture the moment with a few snapshots of the evening! Nothing is better than seeing all your silly antics on Facebook the next day. One of my favorite things to do is steal someones phone or camera and take a few pics. Who doesn’t want to scroll through the nights photo -ops and  see my cleavage? Or the bitchy girl glaring at everyone having fun? Or my partner- in -crimes nostrils? Making memories is awesome, but having proof of your evening is even better!

Tip 5 – Don’t take ANYTHING too seriously. Seriously. You’re at the event to have fun. Even if you don’t really want to be there. Make the best of it. How often do you get a night out? For me, not too often, so I make’ em count.  Make new friends, don’t let the stink-eyes from all the people NOT having fun get you down. Don’t let the rank structure intimidate you. I have plenty of stories of fun times and not one of them starts with “I only hang out with Officers wives…” Fun doesn’t care what rank anyone is. It’s totally OK (regardless of what you hear) to mingle with other spouses.

So that’s it. This is how I end up being the life of the party at every event. Well, this and my rapier wit. Not all secrets are meant to be revealed.

Bitches Be Crazy – micro manager edition

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Why is it whenever a group of more than 3 women get together, it ends up a cock-fight?  Why do bitches gotta be crazy?

Today I spent my afternoon volunteering to set up for an event for  our brigade. Let me emphasize the word volunteer. I was not paid for my time, nor was I even asked to help out. An email went out, and I said “sure”. Little did I know the pissing contest I was about to enter in to.

Now, there is always a bit of confusion and dysfunction to any planning.  Nothing ever goes as planned, and most times plans don’t work. I wasn’t on the committee that organized the event, so I was just there to be a worker bee, or an “Indian”, if you will. Why can’t more people show up that way? I’ve had plenty of events where I’ve been the “Chief”, and let me tell you, I prefer Indian all the way. Until it reaches a certain point. Once I start to be mirco-managed, I tap out. Once people start treating the event as if it’s  a cancer-curing, world problems solving function, I start to lose the gumption to participate.

I’ve been on some sort of committee for the past 5 years. It’s either been FRG, PTA or Roller Derby in my spare time. I’ve had to deal with so many personality types I should be the person the cops call in to talk a crazy off a ledge. The most important lesson I’ve learned? Nothing is as big a deal as it’s made out to be. Ever. If their aren’t enough chairs, have people stand. If the microphone stops working, yell. If you don’t have enough volunteers in the beginning, you absolutely will by the end. I have enough experience to know that it will work out in the end, and if it doesn’t, no one will notice except the people that are looking for things to go wrong and their just assholes anyways.

So, back to my afternoon. It started with the person in charge not being there yet, so some of the other ladies took it upon themselves to start setting up tables. Who knew what a total chaotic event that could be? EVERYONE had an opinion. I literally moved three different tables into the same spot, because someone else would come after me and decide the table didn’t look good there, only to have to replace another table as directed by someone else.  When the real Chief got there, we found out the whole set up had already been decided and we had to move everything around again. And that was just the tables!

I was an hour in and already in need of the bar to be open.

Anyone who knows me knows that I generally try to keep the peace. I use humor to diffuse situations, or I quietly do as I’m told. But I realized a while back that a lot of people take that silence to mean I can be taken advantage of. Now I use sarcasm and cleverness. It may be passive aggresive, but I bet most people would prefer that over a punch to the uterus.

Next came double layer table cloths, which I put on wrong (really?) so I had to re-do two tables, while someone else argued about the length of the tables cloths and someone else watched me to make sure I was doing it right.  It’s a muthereffing table cloth.

Then the center pieces. Production on that was started and stopped a handful of times. One person would start the process, then someone else would chime in. We were doing it wrong. There was a system. Let’s do it this way. No, that won’t work. Start over. Undo everything you’ve just done. Normally, that sort of thing wouldn’t bother me, but when another “Indian” is the one shouting the orders over the “Chief”, it gets distracting. Finally I just started ignoring people. I took my “orders” from the person who new what she was doing, and quietly took charge. She didn’t yell, and she used “thank you”. That’s how you get shit done. Don’t micro -manage me. I’m not 7.

But that’s what happens when everyone wants to be the boss.

Whats with that one lady who goes behind you and “fixes” whatever you’ve just done? Or the lady who yells about everything that’s wrong, but doesn’t actually help fix the problems? Or the lady that says whatever you just said a tiny bit louder, so as to take credit for your idea? I hate that lady most.

And why do people take everything so seriously? I get that you want it to look nice and you want to do a good job, but treating me like crap isn’t going to make the tables  straighter, or the DJ louder. Snapping at me because you don’t think the seating plan makes sense gets you no where. I’m just here to set up and break down the same place setting three times.

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But this is stereotypical FRG, right? No ones wants to be in charge but everyone wants to complain about how it’s being done. No one has input or ideas at the planning stage, but everyone has an idea and opinion once it’s planned.

This is why people don’t volunteer for things. So here’s some sage advise from someone who had very little trouble getting repeat volunteers for my PTA events:

It’s not a failure on your part if you just help out; it does’t make you less of a woman. If your opinion is wanted, it will be asked for. No, you aren’t always right. Why can’t you trust and respect the team (or person) that organized the event and just go with the flow? An event is only as good as it’s volunteers; show up in a good mood, ready to help. If you’re in charge, be in charge, but be nice. Autonomy is always good, trust the people you have working with you.

But the best advise I can give? Don’t be a crazy bitch. And if you are, at least buy me a shot at the bar.

 

 

My day of Unpleasantries

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Today was pool day. After nagging the kids all morning to get their chores done, we finally headed out a little after 1. I couldn’t find the sunscreen I just bought, so that meant a minor detour to the PX.  Note to Class Six: stock sunscreen please. I should have realized the day was going to take a turn for the worse when I couldn’t find my usual brand, and then when I realized there were only 3 lanes open, all of them 6 people deep. Come On!! The express lane was anything but.

I already had my annoyed face on when we reached the outdoor pool; parking lot packed, but what did I expect on a 96* day? There was a short-lasting reprieve when I found a vacant spot in the first row. But as we hauled our heavy, towel-and-new-sunblock- packed bag to the entry, we were met with disappointment. “Sorry, ma’am, we’re at full capacity” says the lifeguard.

Damn. I really wanted to soak in some rays, and enjoy the warm weather and cool-ish water.

I contemplated waiting, as I noticed quite a few people leaving, but then I overheard a gross conversation about one of the bathrooms having some septic issues. Uh… no thanks. While the lifeguards tried to figure out who’s issue this was, and whether or not they were going to have to close,  we were told that the indoor pool would be opening in 30 minutes for open swim. Looks like I won’t need that new tube of white cream after all. Go figure.

So back to the car, and over to the new gym. As we entered, we were “greeted” with an unpleasant, ” open swim doesn’t start until 3″.

“Yes, I know”, I say to grumpy lady who works the front desk. “does that mean I can’t pay until then? And can we wait here until three  (20 minutes)”?

” I don’t know” she says, staring at me. After a breif pause, ” You’ll need to discuss that with them, you don’t pay here” she says, clearly annoyed with me, or something or someone.

I’m new to this post. This is a new gym. Like, it’s newer than we are to Fort Carson. There are large print signs posted on the front desk that state ” small bills only”.  Why would I assume you pay elsewhere? And how hard is it to explain this? She could have handed me a schedule of pool hours, or pool prices. She could have smiled. One of the other two individuals working the desk could have offered up more information, or better service, to help me out.

“OK” I say dryly and herd my kiddos towards the pool area. I then hear her say the exact same thing, in the exact same tone to the guy behind me. Nice. Is this what my MWR dues and fees go towards? Being treated like crap? Money well spent.

So, now I’m feeling a little gun-shy, and I have the kids wait in the hall as I timidly open the pool room door. I have no idea where to go or who to talk to. I’ve never been here before. And the front desk was staffed with a bunch of meanies.

There is gal wrapped in a towel who asks if I’m here for open swim.

“I am”,  I say and as I start to ask her my plethora of questions, I have to stop myself and ask first if she works there. The smile and friendly attitude threw me off.

She kindly gives me the low-down, and says we are more than welcome to wait there until three. I actually contemplated snitching on front desk lady, but figured it was old news. Was that so hard?!?!

Indoor pool is fun. Well, fun-ish. It’s cooler, there’s no sun, and there is a ton of face splashing. But a pool is a pool, and we enjoy our hour or so.

I so wish I could end my story on a good note here. We went to the pool and lived happily ever after. But I was on post. And shit always goes down on post.

The kids talked me into a BK Icee. It’s a HOT day, our plans were re-arranged, people were rude. I relent. At the window, the lady hands we our Icee’s dripping through the drink cardboard carry thingy, puddles of melted cola splashing all over me, all over my kid. Um… really? As we try to sop up the mess with a beach towel, the window lady shouts the total to me. I’m like a foot away from you, and you can clearly see the cola dripping down my arm, my hands covered. Do you really want my sticky, wet Hamilton right now ?  There’s no one behind me. I  hand her the 10 spot and ask for napkins, as nicely as possible. She hands me my change, a wad of STRAWS, shuts her window and walks away. What.The.Hell.

I pull forward, trying to calm myself and contemplate dragging my kids into the BK, in their wet swimmy suits, to bitch this lady out. But it’s hot, and we have an extra Icee and I’m already coverd in sticky syrup. Let it go, I think.

And as I start to pull forward through the parking spot, some a-hole in a late model POS swerves around me and the twenty open spaces, only to cut me off and park to my left, squeezing  into a space between three huge cars. And she glares at me the whole time.

OK, have I done something to everyone in the free world today? Was I offensive en masse?  Do I know this trick? Maybe she was someone I blogged about?

I’m so frustrated, and totally annoyed by her terrible driving in a parking lot, that I shoot her a look. And that’s when I noticed her friend in the back mouth “fuck you bitch” to me. TO ME!

Ok, really? You (finger quotes) ladies swerved around my car doing well over 20 in a parking lot. You (finger quotes) ladies cut ME off. And now you’re gonna get all expletive in my direction. With my kids in the car? Super dooper classy.

So I made sure to look directly at trashville as I exited. And she stared right back at me, doing the “what” thing. As if her fat ass (piled into cutoffs and a bikini top, mind you, you know, because that’s what you wear to eat inside BK) was really going to do anything other than act hard. What’s she going to tell her friends?

“Yeah, this mom with her kids gave us a look, so I got all in her face with my eff bombs and then I punched her”. Who get’s an inflated ego over shit like that? If one of my friends told me a story like that, even without the violence, I’d ask them how old they were, and shame them on Facebook with their bullshit toddler story.

So, her “what”  continued as I drove out of the parking lot, and through the green light. I made sure she knew I was looking at HER. It made me want to back my car up, get out and ask her a few things.

Things such as:

Did you look in the mirror before leaving the house?

Were you aware that my kids were in the car?

Is your husband in the Army? Because if he is, you should behave better on post.

Is your husband deployed? If so, do you think he’s over there sweating his ass off, risking his life so that you can act like your on the Jerry Springer show?

Are you aware that you’re a role model, not just for girls, not just for other military wives, but for your country? You are the example of the military spouse that the civilian world sees. YOU may not care, but I would hope that your husband does, and I would hope that the other military spouses you surround yourself with do.

What would you have done if I would have backed my car up, told my kids to cover their eyes and given you the punch in the face you derserve?

Better yet, what if I would have let YOU assault ME, then called the MP’s?

What if I would have just called the MP’s anyways? Your behavior warranted it. Your actions were threatening to me and to my kids. You don’t act hard in a post parking lot. You have no idea who I am. What if I was a soldier? What if I was the wife of the Provost Marshall? What if I was the NCO in your husbands company?

If you want to act like that, take your shit and your trash attitude over to WalMart. At least I won’t ever run into you.

But I hope I do. I hope I do run into you again. When my kids aren’t in the car. Because I WILL say something to you. Because as mad as I am about whatever you mouthed to me, I’m more mad about the shame you bring to the Army. So let this be a warning to all you spouses and soldiers and civilian workers out there who want to act like you don’t have a standard to live by. You do.  And I’m the new standard police.

community

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The recent fall clean up here around post got me to thinking about military life. Well, that’s not entirely true. What really got me pondering things was the bitching about the fall clean up.

I know most of you who follow ye olde blog are of the military community. I know that it’s easy to forget  all the advantages we have as a military dependent. We often focus on the bad (deployments, bad FRG experiences, crappy duty stations) and forget how lucky (or blessed) we are to have what many have not.

First, let me start with the recession. Or should I say, What Recession? My family, as a lot of my military peers, haven’t been adversely effected by the recession. Sure, I still budget like most people. I even clip coupons, and use discounts.  I also have the privilege(REMEMBER THIS WORD) to shop and get gas on post, where it is often more cost effective cheaper. But we haven’t really had to tighten our wallets or go without to make ends meet. We have great insurance, job security and even though my husband will be receiving the lowest yearly cost of living raise since the world wars,  we’ll still be fine. We aren’t living off of credit, we pay all of our bills and we’ve vacationed more in the last few years then all the years we’ve been married combined. Life is good.

Let’s talk about that insurance… Medical, mental health,substance dependency and even (sometimes) ELECTIVE surgeries are paid for.  If you’ve ever had a baby in the private sector, surely you know what a blessing it is to have the entirety of this covered.  And how about no co-pay for prescriptions filled on post. Ok, sure, not everyone has Tri-Care Prime and not everyone lives near a base/post with a military treatment facility. I did a little research and found out that the most you’ll ever spend, if you CHOSE to go off-post is $12. And that’s  for non-generic. I also know that there are programs available to you if you can’t afford your co-pay, but need meds.

Have a kiddo with special needs? There is an entire EFMP designed for you. Not only are those medical areas covered, but so is therapy (both physical and emotional) and you can receive respite care, a network of professionals and they are starting to build housing around your needs.  I thought that was pretty impressive.

Military specific programs? MWR – BOSS – CYS – lodging – Tickets and Travel – DFAC – bowling- movies theaters – gyms (some with FREE childcare/training/group classes) – Space A – Golf – outdoor rec – FREE wi-fi – Class 6 – Commissary – PX/BX – housing – FRG – Chaplains marriage retreats  (usually FREE)  , USO, Financial planning  and educational opportunity’s for active soldiers and dependents… just to name a few. Honestly, if you can think of it, there’s most likely a program, or class for it. If not, start one.

I think all of these opportunities are pretty amazing for our community. Because that’s really what the Army is. A community. It really isn’t that big. And each section, or post, is a smaller part of that community.

Imagine what you would want your ideal community to be. Safe? Clean? Friendly? A place where your kids can play at the park, even as the sun goes down. Where you feel safe taking an evening jog or walk. Where you can do a little shopping within a walks (or bike rides) reach, and spend some quality time with the family without it costing an arm and a leg.

If you could have a nice little slice of suburbia, wouldn’t that be worth a few hours of your time every season/month/week?

Things like duty  (be it staff, clean -up, notification) are part of the job. They are a PRIVILEGE.  Sure, they seem like a pain in the ass, especially when they fall on nice afternoons, weekends or holidays. And I have done my share of complaining about it. But the reality is, without us ALL pitching in and taking care of our community, it would start to look like a slum, we’d have less camaraderie with our neighbors and our quality of living would be less than desirable.

I think as a military community, we’ve really started taking some of our PRIVILEGES for granted. We’ve become a generation with a sense of entitlement and little pride for what the military stands for.

It’s more than a yellow ribbon sticker on your car, or “Proud ARMY (insert relative here) sweatshirt.  It’s more than a gossip session at the FRG, or doing something because you’re TOLD to do it.

What happened to taking PRIDE in your job, and everything that that stands for? I’m well aware it’s not the popular opinion these days, but there is great  honor in serving your country. Be proud of that. Be a man or woman of integrity. Do that flag on your uniform justice. And spouses, support your uniformed soldier by doing the same.

If you can’t live your life by the code of honor you pledged upon enlistment/commission, then get out.

Harsh? Last week, while my neighbor, in his civilian clothes, was taking groceries from his car , the evening retreat played. He stopped and stood at attention… and asked his son to stand quietly. He was in his front yard. No one was there to tell him to do it. He did it becasue it was the right thing to do. He did it because he respects himself, his job, and what that retreat bugle signifies.

Heard of Leroy Petry? I knew him as the guy with the bionic hand who volunteered at his sons school. I knew him as the guy who eased a nervous kiddo on  a field trip bus by making his “hand” do cool tricks. Before I ever knew him as a soldier, I already knew him as a hero.

If keeping your yard tidy, or raking up leaves is too much for your community to ask of you, you have no business calling my neighbor  or  Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class  Leroy Petry your “brother”.

I am definitely guilty of shrugging my mil-spouse responsibilities the last few years. I made excuses for not doing things on post, since we lived off post and I did most of my volunteering in my neighborhood.  But since living on post again, I’ve realized the effort it takes to make it all  work. And to make people happy.

So my point? It’s time to get back to APPRECIATING what the military lifestyle gives to us. I’m not saying there aren’t any cons. Lord knows there’s a bunch. But there are also so many pro’s, and how often do we show our thanks? How often do we go out of our way to show our gratitude for all the many privileges we have.

War bonds are lost on our generation. And what would you do if your government asked you to turn in the fat from your dinners, or your hosiery? Would you go without hair pins or high heels? It was done during the World Wars.

What if your Coach purse could be used to help defend freedom on the battlefield? (I prefer Dooney & Bourke anyways).

 

So I set forth a challenge to you, sweet readers. And not JUST the mil-spouse, but the active duty soldier (and Officer) as well:

Volunteer for some sort of organization on post.

Get to know a neighbor OR help a neighbor in need

Mentor

Organize a neighborhood/park/area clean-up

Bake something and take it to the barracks. Lord knows those boys and gals need something other than beer.

Have a hobby? Spread the joy! Derek and I have started holiday 2ish mile runs. And we invite our neighbors.

** Have something you enjoy doing? Post it in the Comments to share**

Are you a civilian sweet reader? You live in a community as well, so go out and get involved. Make the place you live better! May i suggest starting at your local public school? 🙂 Already an active member of your community, but want to volunteer for the military? Try http://www.uso.org.

“Let every nation know… that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”  – John F. Kennedy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteering – It’s my thing

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I’ve been pretty unmotivated lately when it comes to this blog. I think it might have something to do with the fact that I’m not really doing anything. I’m not exactly sure how to define myself; I’m not a volunteer, or involved in derby and I’ve come to the realization that my life doesn’t have enough interesting characters in it to sustain such a cleverly written, witty and entertaining blog such as this. I think I’m kind of like, floundering. I am making daily weekly(sort of) updates at my wordpress blog – mywholefoodslife.wordpress.com, so if you’re into food, you can check that out. I think really, I’m just bored. I don’t have a lot going on, which is just weird for me. And I’m not all that entertaining without an audience. Who really wants to read about me getting up around 7, making coffee, getting the kids off to the bus stop, kissing my husband goodbye? I could talk about those first heavenly moments of silence as I walk back into the house after waving goodbye to the bus, and the motorcycle the DH is on… but after that, it’s basically me wandering my house doing random things like laundry, or cleaning toilets or wasting the day online checking out blogs. I think I may have overstayed my welcome in housewifeville. I had a luncheon at the school that my younger two attend (a school I DO NOT volunteer at, despite my advocating for volunteering) and as I’m waiting for the show to start, I can’t help but look around and think to myself how much smoother this would be going if I had been in charge.I then immediately think, “Oh know! I’ve turned into Erica!” Erica being one of my dearest friends, who is simply a natural leader, but is also highly competitive, regardless of the task, and always outdoes herself in anything she takes on. She has been known to “rework” other peoples dinner parties in her mind. She can’t help herself. I love her anyways. After texting my husband to tell him my thoughts on the luncheon,and admit I was an asshole, I remembered a more recent event where my control issue reared it’s ugly head. While out on a run with the hubby, he chose to go farther than our predetermined route. I disagreed. I ran to the already-decided-upon stop sign, and turned around. He went on. Later when he caught up with me, I made the declaration that I was a “leader not a follower”… I also said some other pretty mean stuff that isn’t relative to this story. Huh… I’m a leader? When did this happen? I don’t know, but it did. Sure, I might not look like your typical “A” personality, but I can take charge of ___________ (insert whatever here) and get it done. I might be quiet about it at first, but that’s just the wheels starting to gain momentum. Remember Radar from MASH? That’s pretty much my style. I might not command a room, but I have the answers and the gumption when you need something done. I think I miss it. Oh my God… I think I miss PTA and derby meetings. A schedule book that needs four colors of pen to organize all the goings-on. Proof?

Is that crazy or what? I went from at least 3 different meetings a week… to TWO in a MONTH.I won’t lie, I was experiencing some burnout by May, and happy a few things would be over come June. Funny, those are the things I’m now missing in November. Sure, my husband would say I’m the “leader” of the house.Which is true, since nothing gets done around here with my input.But it’s not like the kids rally even listen to me anymore, and they’re all pretty much old enough to fend for themselves when it comes to food/hygiene/homework.So really, I’m the leader of grocery lists and making dinner and housework. Who want to be the leader of dirty underwear and dust bunnies? What kinda effed up stuff is that? I think I should be offended at that remark my husband didn’t even make but I know he’s thinking!! He might even say I’m just bossy. And I can’t really take offense to that. My dear friend Erica once said, as a response to being asked why she didn’t go into business making one of the numerous things she is ever so talented at,”because it isn’t fun anymore when it’s “work”. I lose the love for it”. My resume would put most stay-at-homers my age to shame. But more than half of the things that are on it were all done as an UNPAID service. As a Volunteer. I now understand exactly what Erica meant. I’m damn good at being a volunteer, and I have prestigious awards to show for it. I don’t think I would choose to do any of those “unpaid” things as my “job”. But… I’m starting to believe there isn’t anything else in the world I love doing more. Re-working that luncheon in my head is proof of that.