Marriage/Military

I married a boy who is also in a committed relationship with the US military.

15 tips to persevere through deployment as a spouse

Oh, deployment.

We’ve officially hit the 7 month mark and besides very vague references in a few posts, I’ve basically avoided this topic altogether on my blog.

Why? Well, I cope best with distraction. I don’t particularly want to remind myself of his absence, or the low moments where I physically ache because I miss him so much.

With that said, I do believe in being authentic in this space. I think I’ve managed to get through the past 7 months pretty damn well. (M – if you read this and disagree, just lie for my few readers OK? ;)) I’ve found joy in personal passions like travel and writing, and have had the BEST support system to lean on throughout the entire process. Women, including myself, have a habit of not giving themselves credit where credit is due, so I won’t go so far to say I couldn’t have done it without other people. But having my best friend as my roommate, calling my mom & dad, texting my sisters, and taking trips with some of my closest friends has made it exponentially easier.

Of course, it’s not quite over either. But I’m feeling confident enough to share how I’ve completely smashed this deployment, and how you can too.

These tips could also go towards a spouse’s extended work trip or a career change that results in different cities, etc. Just don’t tell a military spouse it’s “basically the same thing” if you value your life.

 

How to persevere through a spouse’s deployment: an unofficial, slightly sarcastic, biased guide

  1. Have or get a full time job that sucks up all your time, energy, anger, and soul. Every moment you could spend being miserable about your spouse half way across the world, you’ll instead be far too frustrated about work and inundated by monotonous spreadsheets to even give them a second thought.

 

 

2. Plan trips with savings from #1. Plan a bunch of trips. Yep, keep planning. Add another weekend trip that month. Why not got there too? Now try and work out how you’ll have the PTO to take them all, how to budget like a mad man to afford them all, and plan intricate details for each day. This will keep you busy for days.

3. Marathon all the Netflix shows your spouse would never watch with you. Teen angst dramas like The OC? I’ll just power through that twice, thank you. Throw in some rom-coms and tear jerkers to really drive this one home. Anything they would sit on their phone playing Candy Crush during, you watch the shit out of that.

 

4. Somehow manage to time the deployment around your best friend/roommate’s schedule, so you have 1) someone living with you to listen to all your angst and 2) someone to ALSO hear any strange night noises. Make sure said person is also the best company for a day hike or an entire day spent at a winery.

 

5. Send care packages, at least once a month. Ask your family to join in on it too. Send texts with too many emojis. Send pictures of your smiling face. Cheer your spouse on. It’s easy to forget because you are “struggling” without them, but you are the one who still gets all the amenities of your day-to-day life. You can call for a pizza or grab a beer or get on a flight for a vacation or jump in your car and drive. Try to brighten their day, any way you can.

 

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6. Join a gym with classes where coaches tell you what to do. Bonus points if parts of the workout involve med ball slams, battle ropes, deadlifts, or burpees. Basically, anything that you can either throw or get so sweaty you become disoriented and forget you have a spouse deployed.

 

7. Get a couple of great work friends who suggest happy hour often. No distraction is as good as a third margarita on a rooftop in downtown Seattle. Exhibit A:

 

 

8. If the deployment falls in the summer months, work on your tan. There are few things in life as instantly gratifying as tan lines after an hour or two spent reading in the sun.

 

9. Re-read the entire Harry Potter series. This one requires no explanation. It’s Harry Potter. Of course you should re-read it when you have some spare time.

 

 

11. Make your feminist self proud and mow the lawn, trim the weeds, change that weird LED lightbulb on the back porch that went out the week he left, troubleshoot vehicle issues, and if you’re REALLY FEELING TOUGH put together furniture – all on your own. You’ll cuss a lot and maybe even cry once or twice, but you’ll still have the dignity of not begging someone to do it for you.

 

10. Go out into nature. For more than just a tan. Hike. Run. Kayak. Swim. Enjoy the fresh air. Remind yourself that this deployment is temporary, and honestly so are you. The world will be here so much longer than all of us. Be humbled by that. Take a minute to realize how insanely short 8-9 months is in the grand timeline of existence.

 

12. Tell your spouse you love them, every single chance you get. Whether it’s on WhatsApp or through an email chain you just keep responding to without an answer or you write it down 7x in a letter you send each week. Say I love you.

 

13. Plan an epic post deployment trip that includes a beach and drinks with umbrellas. This is one of the only moments on my blog I’ll tell you not to use Airbnb. Get a nice hotel. Make that concierge plan your day. Let housekeeping clean for you. Order room service. You’ve f**king earned it.

 

14. Plan an epic outfit, hair, makeup for the day you get to be reunited and picture the moment in your head one zillion and ten times.

 

15. This last tip is TBD. I’ll get you an update on this one once he’s back in my arms.

 

“It has made me better, loving you.”
– Henry James

xo,

 

Stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) | 2 year update

Stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) | 2 year update

Yesterday marked two year since moving to Western Washington and calling the Pacific Northwest home. I talk a lot about the area and the travel opportunities I have living here, but I don’t touch very often on the only reason I get to call this place home: my husband being stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) outside of Tacoma, WA.

I will be completely honest when I say, I know very little about housing or amenities on post. I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve physically driven on the base. This is simply because the South Puget Sound area (where JBLM is located) is heavily populated and we live a decent drive from the base. My husband was willing to compromise and live in a more neutral location for both of our careers, and we have everything we need in the town we live. JBLM even has a off-post medical clinic closer to my home I can use instead of having to drive on post to the hospital. I just want to be fully transparent on how that shapes my perspective of living here.

 

Housing

 

We have chose to live off post at in both Alaska and Washington. I did loads of research before we moved to help us reach that decision. I talked to people I knew had lived here or been stationed here, poured over resources like Area Vibes and City Data, and used Google Maps to peruse streets of houses listed online to get a feel for neighborhoods. 

This is my own subjective opinion, but the cities we chose to look for homes included University Place, North Tacoma, Puyallup, South Hill, and Bonney Lake. I found the closer you got to Ft. Lewis without living on post, the higher the crime rates and the more dangerous the neighborhoods. It was very important to me that we were:

1. somewhere we would feel safe walking out the front door for a walk or run

2. near the train line or a direct roadway to Seattle

I know there are fantastic neighborhoods/cities South of JBLM around the DuPont, Lacey, Olympia area. But I was concerned about lack of job opportunities so the above list was better for us.

Housing can be very expensive in any or all of the places I’ve mentioned above. For the BAH (basic allowance for housing, you non-military folk) provided at JBLM, you may be nearly maxing out your budget. It was 100% worth it for us to find a good location. We live in an older 3 bed, 2 bath home at the very top of our budget but the location is EVERYTHING. We LOVE where we live.  For my own personal safety online, I won’t name which of the above cities we live in. But if you are a military family looking for advice – please feel free to comment below or email me and I can provide some insight!

 

Population/People/Traffic

 

Driving through Seattle and into Tacoma 2 years ago was the definition of culture shock after spending 2 years in Alaska and 40+ hours driving through Canada. The traffic was unlike anything I can recall ever seeing, and the sheer number of people every where was very overwhelmingly. I lived in Minneapolis for three years so I don’t say this as someone who has never been to or lived in a large city. I say this as someone who had never seen an area so densely populated as the Puget Sound region. From north of Seattle to Olympia it is constant people, traffic, crowds, and lines. We have an on going joke between my husband and roommate about whether anyone in this area has jobs because it’s literally not “rush hours”, it is just always rush. You’ll be completely stopped in traffic on the 167 or the I-5 curves near Tacoma on a Thursday at 10pm or a Tuesday at 1pm. The traffic here has no concept of time. 

2 years later? I am used to the craziness. If I drive, I leave early and prepare for the worst. I moved here with the intention of getting all my groceries at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, but the time sitting in traffic wasn’t worth it. I get all my groceries (& quite a few other items) from the Fred Meyer a half mile from my home. Waking up early for hikes or skiing or going to Seattle is the only tactic to beat the traffic, so I also tend to be a much earlier riser. It can be annoying, but traffic is an OK trade off for what Western Washington can offer in views and activities. 

 

Job Opportunities

 

Whether you live on-post, off-post, you’re looking for part time or full time work, you’re in the service industry or hospitality, college educated or not, etc. – the area around JBLM offers great job opportunities for military spouses. The most realistic search option and closest in location is Tacoma. With over 200,000 people, Tacoma is a mid-size city with tons of job potential. There is also the capitol city of Olympia just south of JBLM and numerous cities around and in-between those two. You even have the option – like I do! – to work in Seattle. 

I am in Marketing/Advertising and unfortunately my industry doesn’t always jive well with military base locations. Here? It’s perfect. We live near a train line and I take a train directly into the city each day. I have seriously lucked out in my career field in both Fairbanks and here. I’ve found great marketing positions regardless of how I feel about my job currently. There are always job and career options when this close in proximity to a major city like Seattle. If you’re willing to drive or bus or train – you WILL have access to jobs. 

 

Weather

 

It rains. It rains, a lot. I won’t sugar coat this. The two previous states I’ve lived in had -30 degree days, feet of snow, and air that hurt my face. I do not complain about the rain.

But if you tend to get seasonal depression or only function in warm weather, this may not be the place for you. Summer consists of around 2 months of 70’s and 80’s, and the other 10 months of the year it maintains somewhere around 40-60 with gloom and rain. Welcome to the PNW.

 

Fun

 

Whether you are a single soldier, a married couple, or a family – there are SO MANY activities around JBLM to fit your interests. If you’re outdoorsy, you have hit the jackpot being stationed here. From hiking, mountaineering, skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, boating, fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking, camping etc. This state has it all. And most of it, is within an hour or two drive. 

If you hate the outdoors? What is wrong with you? There are two giant cities I have mentioned a time or two in this post called Tacoma and Seattle and they have restaurants, bars, movie theaters, shopping, gaming and arcades, trampoline parks, indoor sky diving, concerts, gyms, etc etc etc. 

As someone who learned to appreciate the outdoors with time (& living in Fairbanks where there’s literally nothing else to do but marvel in the beauty of nature), I would highly recommend taking advantage of the fact that you are within a short drive from so many National Parks. And fun fact: National Parks are FREE for military families. Grab your spouse, doggos, and/or kids and take advantage! 

I thought when I moved here the highlight would be getting a Target again or having access to happy hours or shopping at H&M, and really? It’s been none of that. It’s been the amazing outdoor activities I have been able to take advantage of. It’s been the waterfall at the end of the hike and the beer on the most picturesque beach you can possibly imagine. It’s catching sight of Mt. Rainier on your drive home or the colors as the sun sets over the Puget Sound. And do not, I repeat do not let the rain stop you from enjoying this place. Not to be cliche but….

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Just sub “Life” with “Being stationed at JBLM”…

 

Bonus Section 

 

Pros (I haven’t already mentioned): 

  1. You are less than an hour from a large airport that has affordable (& often direct) flights all over the west coast, the country, and the world. This is my favorite perk of living here! 
  2. No state income tax if you become a resident/work in the state
  3. A short drive from the Pacific Ocean/beaches. But Pacific Northwest beaches, so bring a sweater. 
  4. You’re a short road trip in nearly any direction to a completely different ecosystem / weather pattern if you need to escape the rain
  5. If you’re a democrat/liberal, it’s super liberal here.

Cons (I haven’t already mentioned): 

  1. The real estate market is a nightmare. We didn’t buy, but if you plan to – good luck.
  2. The sales & liquor taxes are atrocious
  3. There are video cameras at stop lights all over, so come to a complete stop at red lights before turning right or you’ll wind up with a ticket and a video to prove it. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.
  4. The Seattle Freeze is REAL. I’ve made friends with time, but not before being convinced everyone hated me. A fellow Midwest-raised coworker helped me overcome this one.
  5. If you’re a republican/conservative – it’s super liberal here ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

After 2 years of calling Washington home, I can say without reservation I love living here. It will be a very bittersweet day when we have to say goodbye.

 

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.”
– Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar)

 

Find the good

Find the good

Yesterday morning I looked at my phone in surprise in the grocery store to find a weary sounding voicemail from my husband half a world away and right there in front of the eggs, I began to cry. Free flowing, salty tears as I hurriedly tried to finish grabbing the rest of my groceries so I could sob in my car in peace. I was even short with a confused Fred Meyer employee stocking shelves who asked if she could help with anything, and implied in both the grocery related and non-grocery related sort of way. I apologize for my shortness ma’am and wish I could tell you in person today. Missing my fourth call in a row from my deployed husband was too much to deal with at 9am on a Saturday morning.

Don’t even get me started on the state of our nation and the current administration’s executive orders filled with fear mongering and hate. I am growing weary of calling out the injustice on day nine. Before even missing his last call, or getting to the grocery store – I had seen people from countries who arrived legally in the United States being detained at airports across the nation and my heart had already been breaking.

I decided mid day yesterday after spending about two hours trying to put away groceries and make myself breakfast in between teary breakdowns and calls to my cell provider (confirming the straight-to-voicemail calls had nothing to do with me), I had to find good this weekend. I had to choose joy and goodness. The sadness of the world and in my own life was wearing me down too much.

I sought out a friend’s advice and concluded I had to step back from the news. Before doing so, I sent a donation to the ACLU and wrote both of my senators for all the humans in this world who don’t have the privilege of stepping back because their lives are so deeply affected. I then avoided Facebook and current events. I sent my husband a straight forward email so he absolutely knew I wasn’t intentionally avoiding his calls. I ate my delicious, wholesome breakfast. I prayed. I turned on Netflix to a show that removed me from reality. I took a deep breath.

A few hours later – the good part. That afternoon he called via WhatsApp using terrible wifi that went out every 30-45 seconds and repeatedly dropped our call. It was first time I had heard from him in days and he called back again and again. And again, until we were able to finish a half way decent call. We made plans to Skype the next day. I heard him laugh. For the first time in days, I felt whole.

The goodness continued today with a winter hike planned with my roommate/best friend. We drove out to the mountains and spent four hours navigating an icy death trail, laughing at our luck  and lack of preparation, in awe of nature in the winter, and sharing inside jokes at the misfortune that awaited people started their hike as we returned. It wasn’t even a good hike, but it ended up being such a good time. We decided after that much tension and near death experiences, we deserved a treat. We devoured pizza and drinks*.

Upon reaching home, I received the request to video message and eagerly awaited the shared desktop computer he was using to work. It was then that I saw his handsome face, the newly grown mustache, his hair so much longer than I remembered, and the always familiar grin. Goodness. Joy. All of it. We caught up for nearly an hour as he fought sleep to talk to me just a bit longer. We talked about our current situations, the short term future, and our plans after we reunite. I asked how we were going to make it through. He said we always find a way. We said goodbye. I wasn’t sad. We would find a way.

I saw today that resistance and protests have erupted all over our nation’s airports and immigration lawyers courtesy of the ACLU are fighting for people’s rights. It’s not a solution or a reversal, but it’s a start.

From yesterday morning to now, joy felt impossible. I am not sure if it was prayer, or nature, or his laugh. My guess would be the last.

I am hesitant to share the nitty-gritty parts of deployment. The parts that feel so raw and new. I don’t want people to see me as anything but composed. The independent, stubborn wife with a full time job and her own life. But life breaks me down. The choices of our nation’s leader are breaking me and the distance from the one person in the world who can make it better just by his pure empathy or his constructive, thoughtful conversations is a world a way and can’t discuss it. I definitely do not have it the worst right now, but there are days that feel much worse than others.

Tonight I think I’ll light a candle, put on a face mask, return to that TV show not based in reality, and bask in our phone call until the next time we can talk. I’ll get back to writing my representatives, donating what I’m able, and staying informed – tomorrow.

Off to battle the icy trail / patriarchy. Photo courtesy of the best best friend on the planet.

 

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
– J.K. Rowling (The Prisoner of Azkaban)

 

*Yes, Pizza. Whole30 restart is tomorrow. This is actually A LOT harder than I thought it would be.

3 years

3 years

I have always written about things that move me. Things that I’m passionate about. Things that have affected me deeply. It’s why I write about travel, about books, about my family, about fitness, and most of all, it’s why I write about love. I love writing about love.

Nothing has brought me more joy and emotion that loving someone and being loved.

Today I get to officially celebrate 3 years of pure joy and raw, emotional love.

I won’t offer advice or insight today. Our story is our own. From the smiles to the tears, to the nights spent cuddled next to each other and those spent thousands of miles apart. For over six years we’ve been figuring it all out together and for three years today, we’ve been figuring it out as a married couple.

I am insanely proud of our marriage. We were kids when we were dating, kids when we got married, and according to both sets of our parents, we’re still kids now (Disclaimer: we’re both the babies of the family so we’ll be affectionately referred to as the kids until the end of time). For being “children” though, we sure do a hell of a good job at being husband and wife. We love deeply, communicate well, respect always, plan wisely, spend within our means, and grow closer through each trial.

My favorite part of all? We always say yes. To adventure, to new opportunities, to each other, to growth, and to love.

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Loving this man has been the biggest, most empowering, fulfilling thing I have ever done.

I am a better person (and a better feminist) for understanding the sacrifice and selflessness of unconditionally loving another.

Cheers to three amazing years. There is no one on earth I’d rather adventure with than you, my love.

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“I knew I did from that first moment we met. It was… Not love at first sight exactly, but – familiarity. Like: oh, hello, it’s you. It’s going to be you.”
– Mhairi McFarlane

 

 

Pura Vida – Costa Rica Pt. 3

Pura Vida – Costa Rica Pt. 3

I read the travel writing compilation of Don George before I left on this trip. His book, “The Way of Wanderlust” struck a yearning in my heart for places I’d never considered visiting until he wrote about them. From hiking Kilimanjaro to relaxing in the Cook Islands to exploring hidden temples in Cambodia. George’s words have a way of making one feel as if you’re right there with him, and upon snapping out of the trance, an intense urge to buy a plane ticket immediately.

Reflecting on Costa Rica, I wish I could describe this country as perfectly and poetically through the written word. Unfortunately I feel my favorite memory from the trip has to be accompanied by pictures to tell the story accurately. Maybe one day I’ll be a great travel writer, or maybe I’ll always need the pictures…


 

It was hot. Nine in the morning and the sun was already beating down with such ferocity I knew my cheap straw sunhat and sunscreen applied over an hour ago were doing little to protect my skin. We had also been trudging along the beach for the past fifteen minutes, so sweat had began to form at every crease of my body. I glanced up to Michael, about 10 feet in front of me, diligently marching towards our final destination, surfboard in tow. He’d insisted on grabbing it before we entered the park, so I had little sympathy for his struggle as he shifted it between arms every couple of minutes.

Looking past him, I could see the end our of trek. The Whale’s Tail in Parque Nacional Marino Bellana. At low tide Playa Hermosa and Playa Uvita, two beaches along Costa Rica’s southwestern coast, joined to form the infamous Whale’s Tail. From the moment I saw the aerial view on one of the many travel blogs I poured over prior to our trip, I knew I had to see it for myself.

I wiped my forehead and adjusted the backpack on my shoulders. Many around us were making the same trek to the end of the Whale’s Tail, but some had plopped down right on the narrow stretch of beach for a break. I envied them. They didn’t have a husband on a mission. I picked up my pace and briefly wondered how many Pina Coladas I was walking off.

After five or so minutes, the soft, wet sand began to be sprinkled with rocks and I looked up from watching my feet to see we’d reached the end. The rocky, tide-pool filled end of the whale’s tail. Michael had come to a stop and as I tried to maneuver around rocks to reach him I understood why. Our flip flops were no match for the jagged, soaked terrain. We’d planned to walk to the very end so he could surf and I could sun bathe, but there was at least 500 ft to go and no chance we’d make it unscathed.

“So much for that,” he said begrudgingly and I sighed in agreement. “Well, I saw some bigger waves back where we entered in the park. Let’s just go back there. Closer to food and drinks. Maybe you can find some shade.” I grimaced thinking of the walk back, but knew my face was already beat red. Without another word he turned around and walked away. A bubble of anger rose up in my throat. I was disappointed enough by our anti-climatic whale’s tale adventure, but his disinterest in anything but surfing was beginning to piss me off. I stubbornly contemplated sitting down right there among the tide pools to take in the turquoise ocean crashing into the black rocks of the tail’s end all by myself. I glanced back to see how far he’d made it and instead, I saw the view.

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The stretch of beach that led us out to the tail had already begun to disappear back to the ocean. But each time the waves retreated, the jungle, mountains, and marshmallow clouds before me reflected in the wet sand. To describe it as simply “stunning” would be a travesty. Frozen in place and humbled by the earth, it hit me.

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Walking out on the Whale’s Tail to stare at the ocean wasn’t the point. One could stare at the ocean from any position on shore. Travelers walked out on the Whale’s Tail to look back. They walk out into the ocean to see the land from a different perspective.

I stood for a few moments longer before Michael called to me. He pointed up at the mountains with a delighted expression. I smiled in spite of my annoyance just moments before. Sharing this with him, with the person I love more than any other, was so much more important than being bitter he rather surf than meditate. I jogged to catch up with him – a feat considering the sun only blazed more fiercely as we approached mid-day.

We walked in sync back to the main beach together, silently sharing our awe of this place we had the privilege of visiting. Just before we veered right to settle into our palm tree hangout, I saw it. The very point where the beaches met. The very tree from which the whale tail grew each morning and disappeared each afternoon at high tide. My head must have been down on the walk out to have missed it, so focused on the destination I’d forgotten to enjoy the journey. Or, I had simply needed a new perspective.

I snapped the picture. Michael yelled back to say he could see the perfect spot up ahead. I turned away from the edge of the world and find that weeks later, it is forever seared in my memory.

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Thank you for the memories, Uvita. Pura Vida.

“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.”

Isabelle Eberhardt, The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt

Camille Mae (2)

 

 

6 months

6 months

A 3 day weekend not chalked full of plans was the perfect opportunity to take a critical look at my blog (once again). But before I even had a chance to decide what direction to take this baby of mine into 2016, I noticed the date.

January 17.

6 months, almost to the day, we moved to Washington and into our new home.

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Woah. That shakes me up quite a bit. I lived in Alaska for just over 2 years. I have already been in Washington 1/4 of the time I spent in Alaska. It does not feel like that in the least. I vividly remember the moment we crossed the border from Canada into Washington. We were shrieking and laughing with excitement driving through farm land because we’d picked a border crossing in Central Washington, miles from I-5. I was texting everyone we knew with, “HEY – we’re alive!”. I stared at the mountains to our left and the hilly farmland to my right with intrigue. What would our home look like?!

Then we hit interstate 5 at Bellingham. We were in stop and go traffic for about 2-3 hours. We were exhausted from driving for four days straight through Canada. We were flustered to have to deal with brake lights and rush hour. I stared at Seattle as we passed by in amazement, but we had a million things to figure out in the next week so I knew visiting the city was out of the question. We had not been prepared for the infinite amount of people.

Living in Washington has basically been like that for the past 6 months.

I lived in Minneapolis for college. I understand urban environments. I adored Minneapolis. Western Washington is like taking Minneapolis and pumping it full of crack and spreading everyone out over a big area  but the traffic doesn’t get better and the amount of people per square mile isn’t reduced.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Washington. I really do. I love the amount of things there are to do here. I love how picturesque and beautiful it is no matter what season; from the mountains to the ocean to the forests in between. I love the weather. I mean it’s currently mid-January and almost 50 degrees with a light drizzling rain?! I love our little town nestled away from the major cities but within a very short drive to all of them.

But after 6 months, I can see its flaws too. My husband tried to explain this to me before we moved. I remember the conversations very clearly. “Everywhere on earth has positives and negatives. There is no perfect place.”

Damn. I think he was right this time.

Western Washington’s population does drive me a bit crazy. The roads are always busy. The grocery stores are always busy. The ski resorts are always busy. Even the hiking trails are busy. Everywhere is always busy.

People are also very West Coast. I was told by a coworker my second week of work that he could tell I was from the Midwest by how often I smiled at people. Yes, by how often I smiled. People aren’t outwardly rude, but they all seem very apathetic. Why smile at strangers? Why lend a hand to someone who just dropped a few things? etc.

All in all – 6 months in Western Washington has taught me A LOT. The good and some of the not so good. It’s taught me that I took for granted how peaceful Alaska was. It’s taught me that as I age, I enjoy my time away from people (Oh God – I’m my parents). But most importantly I’ve learned no matter where we go or choose to settle*, every place has its triumphs and its drawbacks. The key is not to dwell on the latter.

After I just spent a blog post dwelling. Do as I say, not as I do…

Well, I’m off to hit up the grocery store while the Seahawks game is still on! This is my new strategy to avoid people. I’ll report back and let you know how it goes.

“And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.”
John Steinbeck

*Unless we move to Bora Bora or an island country outside the hurricane belt without snakes

Camille Mae (2)

 

 

Calling all my married, working girls

Calling all my married, working girls

Last night was the best.

My company had its annual holiday party. This year it was at the EMP Museum in Seattle. The cocktails and food were excellent. The exhibits were fun to explore – seeing Sirius’ cloak from the Harry Potter movies and playing around with this interactive camera that turned you into your own horror character were some of the coolest parts! It was great to see all my coworkers out of a professional setting, but best of all?

This guy.

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From the second I asked if he wanted to go – he was completely on board and excited to accompany me. We got him a brand new, tailored suit. He wore terribly uncomfortable shoes all night long. He schmoozed with absolutely everyone I needed and wanted him to. He supported me and my career, just like he has every single day since were just kids dating and talking about our dreams.

Attending a party for a company like this is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid. That sounds terribly vapid, I know. But growing up in a 100 person town – the thought of being a kick ass working gal and attending company events in a big city was something that enamored me.

And here we are.

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And when I say WE, I mean WE. I worked hard to get an awesome position at a great company in downtown Seattle all by myself, yes. But my husband has helped make it possible. I give credit where credit is due, and as someone who teeters on giving up when rejections pour in while job searching – he’s the one who has kept me grounded time and time again whispering in my ear, “Keep going.”

To anyone who follows me on social media – Oops. Last night was such a big deal for me. Not just because I got in a pretty dress and figured out how to curl my hair with a straightener (although that helped). We were there because I’ve been working my ASS off at this job since late August, continuing to build a career/life I’ve dreamed of. Having my husband by my side who was so damn proud of me was just the cherry on top.

Marry someone who pushes you and cheers for you, and knows when to do which.

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“You don’t need another human being to make your life complete, but let’s be honest. Having your wounds kissed by someone who doesn’t see them as disasters in your soul, but cracks to put their love into, is the most calming thing in this world.”

Emery Allen

Marriage Wisdom (from whatever step comes after newlyweds)

Marriage Wisdom (from whatever step comes after newlyweds)

I realize it’s a bit premature for me to provide true “wisdom” about marriage. With only two years and three months of wedded bliss under my belt I don’t pretend to know the key to a successful marriage. But I know what’s worked for my marriage as a 20-something in our current society, and maybe that’s enough?

This blog post stems from three really good friends who have all recently become engaged. The most recent of which called me to share the news and teased me about, “Sharing my wisdom”. Her words got me thinking about what advice I would share with friends who are about to embark on this journey.

What would I truly want to tell my friends about marriage?

Well…

  1. You are going to continue to grow and change, but when you’re married you do it together. 

At 21 everyone warned me that I wouldn’t be the same person then that I would be at 25 and 30 and 40 so “BE SURE about marrying that person because YOU COULD CHANGE”. Well they were right, I’m not even the same person now at 24. But neither is he. We both changed. The notions I had about life at 21 are completely different now. But they’re different for him, too. If anything we’re more in sync now. Don’t worry about changing and growing. It’s so fun to do it with someone by your side. For the people passing up a great partner because of the fear you “may change”, you better never get married. I hear we keep changing/growing until we die.

2. Keep it light. Keep it silly. Keep laughing. 

Work is serious. School is serious. Bills are serious. Marriage is a serious decision, but it shouldn’t be serious. Laugh. Act like kids. Be spontaneous. Talk in accents when you go through the drive through. Have embarrassingly adorable lingo that you use when you’re alone. Dance while you make dinner. Hold hands and run down the street screaming when you drink. Don’t take marriage too seriously. The certificate didn’t mean we had to trade in being kids at heart.

3. You have two brains, not one.

It’s okay to have different hobbies, friends, political beliefs (make sure the big ones align…), ideas, favorite colors, etc. Marriage makes us a united front, but I didn’t marry myself? It’s easy to get flustered if I don’t agree about a political issue, or if only one of us likes a new set of couple friends, or if one of us prefers to do a specific hobby alone. All of that is 100% okay. Embrace the differences. We agree on the important issues that affect our lives and we have a handful of hobbies we do together. Everything else makes us individuals.

4. If you start to get into a routine, take an adventure

It doesn’t have to be a backpacking trip across Europe or moving to a new place (although that would do). Plan a Saturday trip to a hiking spot you’ve never been. Take a mini one night camping trip. Get a hotel in the city you live. Have a picnic in your backyard. Plan a date night roller skating and going to a drive in movie. Anything that disrupts the routine of daily life works. I’ll let a quote sum up this piece of advice up best,

“Marriage must fight constantly against a monster which devours everything: routine.”
Honoré de Balzac

5. Communicate

Ask about each other’s days. Eat dinner without phones. Keep the TV out of the bedroom. Turn the radio down every now and then. Have a sincere interest in each other’s lives even when feeling tired and self absorbed. Think of each other at free moments during the day. Getting or sending a simple “Miss you” text speaks volumes. Being able to say how I feel and what I need whether it’s regarding goals, work, arguments, plans, or our relationship is vital. Keep talking. Every day.

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“When I am with you, there is nowhere else I’d rather be. And I am a person who always wants to be somewhere else.”

— David Leviathan

Needed Reminder

Needed Reminder

How is it already May? I have been wishing for time to speed up ever since the first snowfall hit the end of September, and now I wish I would have been more careful about what I wished for…

We leave Alaska permanently in almost 60 days. 60 days. I am trying not to panic.

Firstly, because I am immensely excited about this move and I want that giddy feeling to stay with me through all the trials were bound to run into when picking up our life and moving 2,000 miles away. Secondly, because of the conversation I had with my husband the other night while lying in bed.

He was trying to fall asleep as I laid wide awake, rambling aloud about job prospects and whether I want to stay in this career field or move towards other passions of mine when it hit me:

Life is short.

I know, soooo philosophical.

But the time we get on planet earth with the people we love is cruelly numbered. There is never enough time to be everything and do everything and see everything. I can not work at Amazon and Microsoft and Boeing and every fancy advertising agency in Seattle and write a book and be an event planner and work in government and all the ideas and dreams that were racing through my mind the other night. I can not work at every interesting job position and live every life I can imagine.

I can’t. You can’t. None of us can.

I have only this one, precious life. Whatever I choose to be or where I choose to work will be the right choice because I made it so. I will choose and that choice will be right for me because this life is what I make it.

So then, why was I worrying and agonizing over what job to apply for and how long unemployment may last and what we’d do if we can’t live the perfect two-income lifestyle we live right now when it’s all just so…trivial.

[[Back to the conversation with my husband]]

“None of this matters, huh?” I had asked, rolling on my side so we could get into our habitual cuddling position to sleep.

“The jobs, you mean?” Was his reply as he wrapped his warm arms around me, and I breathed in his minty aftershave.

“Yeah,” I felt a wave of relief overcome me as I said it out loud, “It doesn’t matter what job I choose, does it? This. This moment is the only thing that matters.”

“Yep. But I was just going to let you figure it out,” he answered quietly.

“You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what you plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don’t have to maintain an impeccable credit score. Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history or economics or science or the arts.

You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth.

But that’s all.”

– Sugar (The Rumpus)

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Content

Content

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I love September in Alaska.

Two years ago, this month, was the first time I flew here to visit Michael. It was the first time we went to Denali National Park. It was the first time I’d ever seen mountains of this grandeur and the first time I’d seen the leaves on the trees change so beautifully. Minnesota has a gorgeous fall, don’t get me wrong. But nowhere I’ve ever visited or lived beats an Alaskan September.

It took me a LONG time to fall in love with Alaska. A looooonnnnggggg time.

I spent the first five months living here asking how quickly we could leave. We were newly married, on a relatively tight budget, living in a tiny, old, debilitated apartment, and we couldn’t afford to do much outside Fairbanks.

And then we took our first trip to Anchorage Thanksgiving weekend, and slowly but surely, I started to see the appeal. When you drive 6.5 hours down the Parks Highway after a freshly fallen snow when the trees and mountains are glittering the entire drive you can’t help but fall in love a little bit…

We began to ski and snowboard frequently throughout the winter months, and the holidays proved to be adorable and festive in snow-covered Fairbanks and North Pole. Two trips to visit both our families kept me sane through March, and even caused me to miss our new “home”. Moving into the lovely duplex apartment at the end of this past winter was when I finally came around.

The tipping point to loving Alaska was taking an amazing Alaskan road trip with my husband and three closest friends in the end of June/beginning of July. Seeing the state through their eyes made me realize what I have here and how it’s only temporary. Despite what Alaska is missing, it has so much to offer.

So I can finally say without hesitation, I am content.

I am content with Fairbanks, Alaska. I am content with our adorable apartment, the Crossfit community I’m apart of, the aesthetic views while running, the mountains I see on my way to work, and our proximity to visiting them whenever we feel like it. I am content with the unending winter, the lack of fresh produce, the small population of this area, the expensive plane tickets, and the isolation.

Because where else on earth will I see a sunset like this?

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Sweets

“You couldn’t relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole–like the world, or the person you loved.”
Stewart O’Nan, The Odds: A Love Story

Have you ever disliked somewhere you lived? Military spouses – how long has it taken you to come around to a new place after PCS-ing? 

Note: Photos taken with my new Nikon COOLPIX P530! Only the one of us kissing has been edited since we have yet to master the “selfie” on a real camera.

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