November – An Unromantic Love Affair

November has always been a special month for me. Maybe because the weather is starting to get crispy as we settle into the holiday season. Maybe it’s the anticipation of Thanksgiving. It could be that it is a time of celebration and reflection.  

My mother married my step-dad on November 1. Their marriage lasted for 30 years before he passed away. This unity was an example of supreme perseverance, extreme sacrifice, and in-depth love. As a young teenager, I watched their love grow and blossom in ways I would never understand. I witnessed their success and their failures. I admit, there were times, I did not understand why my mother would stay with such a strong-armed individual. Don’t get me wrong! I loved my step-dad and will forever miss him but he wasn’t always kind. Then again, none of us are. He was human and had his faults like all we do. He was harshly judged for his personality but it was just that personality that helped me grow into the strong, independent woman I am today. It was their love for each other that inspired me. I watched my mother stand by the love of her life when most women would have bailed. I watched her endure moments of his discontentment and the anger he held within. Sometimes, his battles with regret where stronger than his love for those around him. No, he never physically harmed my mother. There were other moments, the ones I like to remember the most, where his eyes sparkled when he looked at her. Those days, you could see and feel the love he had for her. He enjoyed picking on her; especially when she wasn’t in the mood. He would try to make her laugh when so was down on her luck. Their marriage showed me that no bond between two people is ever perfect. It’s hard work and comes with much sacrifice. Their loved showed me that you can never give up on one another just because times are tough. That is what I choose to remember! 

Love can sneak up on you when you are not looking for it. It grasps a hold of your heart like a vice grip holding two pieces of metal together. The grip is sometimes impossible to loosen. God has a way of putting two people together that is unique and often not understood. He puts two people together that are so opposite from one another that the world deems them not fit for each other. God has his purpose! Or so it seemed 25 years ago when he united my husband and I in marriage. That is when the insanity truly began… 

Our love affair started before we even knew it ourselves. I was a young, naïve girl just new to the military. He was a well-educated young man, also, new to the military. We had our whole worlds ahead of us. How did it begin, you ask? We will get to that shortly… 

It all began in January or February 1993; my memory escapes me on dates. I’ve never really been good with them. Anyways, we first met at a bar on base in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. It was my first night at this bar. I was the tag-along with roommates that frequently visited this bar. I had not been stationed on the island long. In fact, I reported to the island on Christmas Day, 1992. I had not made any true friends up to this point. I was a rather shy individual. I kept to myself mostly. I was just trying to find my way in an unfamiliar world. In fact, my roommates didn’t even like me when I was first assigned to the room. One hated me for reasons I will never know. She would threaten to beat me up, talked bad about me at her command, and was a truly nasty person. It was very adult-like of her; more bully-like! And to think, I thought I had graduated high school! Looking back, it could have been her hormones from her pregnancy. Maybe it was jealousy. But I was nobody to be jealous of so that was never a consideration. Maybe she was just discontent with her own life and needed to take it out on someone she deemed of a lesser being to her. Who knows?! I was just glad when she left the island. It took her to leave before my second roommate would acknowledge me or have anything to do with me. 

Ironically, we became really good friends. She was highly energetic, loved to laugh, and just wanted to have fun.  She invited me to the “Crossroads” which was the base country bar. I walk in with a few other friends and followed them to this round table. At the table sat a few guys. My southern nature took me around to each individual, introduced myself, and gave them each a hug. That’s what we do in the south…at least when I was growing up there. A hug was the same as a hand shake and meant just as much as your word. Without it you didn’t have much. Besides, the only thing we could afford was a hug; wasn’t much left for anything more than that.   

To be completely honest, I don’t remember much more from this night. I wasn’t drunk or anything; just never had a very good memory. What I do remember is this gentleman giving me a ride back to the barracks along with another guy. I was really impressed with the him. I got in his car and it was in immaculate condition. It wasn’t just his car; it was everything about him. I can’t pinpoint just one thing. There was a depth to him that peaked my curiosity. I wanted to know more about him. To make this story short, we started dating shortly after that…to make it even shorter… 

We dated, I broke up with him on his brother’s birthday, and a few weeks later I asked him to start dating again. There is no real romantic story there. Unless you consider the fact he threw me one hell of a birthday party even though we weren’t dating.  

I knew it was a mistake the moments the words left my mouth, only I couldn’t retract them. Have you ever felt the power of God’s voice before? Let me tell you, it will be with you for the rest of your life. I can still vividly hear his words when I reflect back on that moment. Why did I break up with him? Glad you asked. I was young, naive, never dated or had a boyfriend. I had no clue what I was doing. I didn’t know what it meant to be in a relationship. I was sheltered in my youth and I wanted to experience everything life had to offer. I didn’t feel I could do that while in a relationship; whatever a relationship was. 

Next, we started dating again. He informs me he had never “re”dated a girl that had broken up with him. Well, neither had I. A boy, that is. That was easy since I never dated or even had a boyfriend. But for him, I guess there is a first time for everything. I enjoyed hanging out with him. I experienced a lot “first” with him. It was a great time! He was so handsome and generous and smart and considerate. He made my heart flutter. 

One day we were talking and I don’t remember how the conversation came up. I started telling him about a telephone call I had received from a guy on the other island. So the story goes… 

I was sitting watch for a weapons command. My job was to make radio calls to a small island off our coast to ensure everything was secured. This would go on about every hour throughout the night. It was a really boring job. It was one of many boring nights I would sit on watches. The next day, once I had turned over the watch to my relief, I was told I had a telephone call. I answered with curiosity since no one really knew me or knew how to get a hold of me. I couldn’t imagine who it would be. The manly voice on the phone informs me “you have a sexy voice!”. All I could muster to say was “Thank you!” before I hung up the phone. I am smiling and blushing as red as strawberry glistening in the fields on a hot summer day. I didn’t know what to say. I had never had anyone to compliment me like that; certainly not a stranger. As I am telling Wes this story, before I could even get it completely out of my mouth, he said “No way! That was me!”  

I guess you could say, I got the man of my dreams because I thought about that manly voice for some time after that call. I had wondered who he was, what he was doing, what he looked like. I conjured up my own fairy tale about this voice but I kept it all to myself.  

Shortly after, I discovered I was pregnant. That was the scariest moment in my life. I had no idea what I was going to do. I was just learning how to manipulate life on my own; now I had a child to worry about. I was barely making $500 a paycheck. I didn’t know how I was going to support a child on my own. I wasn’t going to let that stop me though. I informed Wes of the pregnancy, half expecting him to bolt out the door as fast as he could. To my surprise, he asked me to marry him. I could not say “yes”! The last thing I want was for him to marry me because he felt obligated. I wanted a man that would marry because he loved me not because he felt he had to. Deep inside, I really wanted to say yes. I just couldn’t. Some time had passed and he asked me again. And I said “no” again. I just wasn’t convinced that it was me he wanted. There were much prettier, smarter, and wiser gals he could be with. I didn’t want to tie him down. Besides, was he asking because it was me wanted? Or was it the child growing inside me that we have yet to meet? I had discussed my situation with a supervisor. From the beginning he kept telling me that I needed “to marry that man”! But what did he know, really?! To my surprise, Wes asked me to marry him for a third time. I said “YES”! I figured if he asked this time there probably wouldn’t be another. If he asked THREE times then he must really want to be with me! I really wanted to marry him, and did from the beginning! I couldn’t say no and risk losing him forever.

For the past 25 years, we have lived a life of insanity. We had two handsome young sons. We were both military; waiving at stop signs as we passed each other going to and from work. Giving quick hugs as one returns from a deployment and the other leaving for one. Managing a “bachelor” life because we were stationed in different states ~ trying to keep it all together and make it work. It was hard but there was no way I was going to let him slip through my fingers a second time. We were meant to be together. He is the love of my life. The one I look forward to seeing at the end of the day. The one I want to talk to about my day. I want to listen to his military stories, talk about his day, share his dreams. He captivates me, intrigues me, motivates me. He is my everything! I pray that God gives us another 25 years together because he is my rock! 


October – Unconventional Challenge

My Bucket List Challenge for October is a little unconventional but it definitely touched on my comfort zone. The month was filled with excitement, new prospects, uncertainty, and celebration. I made the decision to journey down a new path in employment. I left the comforts of my previous employer to take on a mission with a new company. Any one that knows me, knows how extremely difficult this was. I don’t like change! It’s not easy for me to adjust to new environments. Learning new people is an extreme task all on its own. 

This journey to employment change actually started in February. I told only a handful of people. I was even reluctant to tell my husband. What if the deal fell through? I didn’t want to seem like a failure.  Eventually, I had to look at it in a different manner. Not failure but a new opportunity! I had to realize that some change, as scary as it may be, is actually good. In fact, it could be rewarding. The new prospective company had sought me out through LinkedIn where my resume is posted. Obviously, if a company that only knew me through a computer based software saw something in me, I had to start believing in myself. I knew I had to make a change. I wanted to make a change. My old job was slowly killing me; mentally, physically, and emotionally. I was becoming someone that was truly not of my character. I was growing increasingly unhappy, bitter, and even sometimes, downright mean spirited. 

Yet, I was afraid to jump into another “contract” company because let’s face it…no matter what anyone tells you, “the grass is NOT always greener” on the other side of the fence.  I agreed to move forward as if I were going to take this position to give myself time to figure out what “I” wanted. More importantly, what I “NEEDED”! I attended a mandatory course and started the onboarding procedures. May rolls around and I had been skipped over for this hiring phase. I wasn’t upset as I knew there were four people in line for the position and two were unemployed. I’d like to assume it went to those that “needed” the job. I figured it just meant it wasn’t my time to leave my present company. After all, I loved the company I was working for. My supervisors were very supportive. The company has great benefits. The managers are eager to help in any way possible but even they have limits.  While I was allowed to participate in certain company programs, it had to be outside company time, any courses for job development was outside company time, there was no compensation for attending job development education events or courses. Therefore, I stopped doing those extra things that set me apart. Well, honestly, that came after my second payroll reduction. I had taken two huge pay reductions in a matter of six months. I didn’t see any point in paying money out of my own pocket when they weren’t even meeting the area average for the job I was doing. Again, I really loved the company but there were aspects to the job and “other” associates of the job that I could no longer subject myself to. I knew I was capable of so much more than the “associates” gave me credit for. There was room for process improvement but only a select few wanted to improve the process. 

September is in full churn and I was contacted again about accepting a position at a new company. Yes, the one from the previous inquiry. After much discussion with my husband; the going back and forth, the what-ifs, and the maybes, I decided to move forward. I knew there was something more for me. I knew there was a job that would lead me to “employment happiness” and I wasn’t going to find it unless I stepped outside my comfort zone, set aside my loyalty concepts, and jumped with faith two feet forward. While in the midst of accepting a position at this new company, I was interviewed by another very promising company. This really gave me an ego boost…to think there were two companies that wanted to hire me at the same time! Turns out, they were merging together to become one so I don’t know if it really counts. It’s now October, and the day finally comes where I give my notice. You can really tell your worth in the eyes of others when they have to bid on your services. My present company didn’t even try to come close to the mark! They didn’t even try to meet my original starting wage. Worse yet, after explaining all the complications with the position I held, even if I had stayed, nothing would have changed. 

Change is sometimes good! It allows you to open up to better opportunities and self-growth. It challenges you to experience life. After all, life is going to happen so we might as well join in on the fun. I have enjoyed this change. I, at one point, would cry all the way to work and dread getting out of my car because I really could not deal with the mundane environment and the negativity that filled the air on a constant basis. Now, I have to be at work much earlier than I am used to but I get off earlier too. I work with some pretty amazing people; supportive, informative, and charismatic. My car is no longer filled with tears of dread in the morning but an excitement to find out what the new day has ahead. How long will this feeling last? I ask myself that but I am going just to live in the moment. Enjoy the experience while I can and be happy with the change!

End the end, if this position goes away, if the contract is not renewed…I can feel confident that I have the ability to take another promising employment opportunity with another company! I no longer have to the fear of what I would do if I lost my job. I can just enjoy the fact that I have a job and can always find another if necessary!

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” –Confucius

September – Lost Time

I started this particular blog post back in September, yet here I am still trying to etch words for a timeframe I can’t remember. Ever have a moment when time just seems to have been misplaced; vanished without a trace? Have you had moments where you have no recollection of time? That is me, at this very moment, as look back into September and all that it had to offer. Maybe it had nothing to offer at all. Maybe that is why, for a few weeks now, I have not been able to discern September’s happenings.

I have sat with my Bucket List book staring back at me. What did I do to accomplish items in this book? Did I do anything? There is nothing coming to memory. How could an entire month just vanish into mind-space? My mind-space is a black hole where events are stored when they really had no true meaning or impact to my life. But why would I store an entire month in my mind-space? Was it really that uneventful?

I am sure of that! I know it started out with a Saturday Yoga event at MoMac Brewery. Other than that…there is nothing. I remember the yoga session being refreshing. I was having issues with tenderness in my Achilles tendon. The yoga session did wonders to relieve the pain I had. I remember thinking that I need to do this on a regular basis because, literally, my entire body felt more relaxed.

Anyways, maybe if I dig out my calendar it will jar my memory. Let’s see…Nope, only thing listed is Labor Day. What did I do on Labor Day? Did I do anything for Labor Day? Maybe Facebook will tell me. Small chance of that since I rarely interact with it but let’s see. There were things I wanted to do but did I do them?

Well, Facebook revealed that I enjoyed some time with my son, Brandon, while he was home on Leave. My surrogate son, Adam, joined us a few times. We enjoyed having a few brews at our local watering hole, MoMac Brewery. By happenstance, we ran into his old cross country coach, Ryan. I must add that Ryan also coached me through a series of races to include my first 50K Ultra Marathon. Under his guidance, I managed to exceed my personal record (PR) with each race I ran. It was a grueling time, a time of character testing, patience testing, and learning how to get out of my head and just run. It was hours and hours of running each Saturday and Sunday. It became a full time job; only I wasn’t getting paid for it. I questioned my sanity, clearly I was insane! That became obvious when I signed up to run the 50K Ultra Marathon followed by the Surf’n Santa 5 Miler the same day. It was a total of about 37 miles that day. Really, my first clue at insanity should have been when I ran a marathon with pneumonia. I don’t recommend it. However, the first 13.1 miles seems pretty easy. By mile 18 I felt like a brick was sitting on my chest, the coughing increased and my lungs felt on fire. Finally, mile 20 was in view but I was still asking myself if I was going to make the last 6.1 miles. I decided I would run and collapse at the finish line if I had too. I had trained way too hard to quit! Boy that last .2 was the worst because it felt like it was never going to end! Would I do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat! My ultimate goal is to run a 50 miler; the Skydive Ultra in Florida to be exact. I just need to get mentally and physically fit before I attempt such a feat. The only there’s one problem. Every time I think I am ready to hit payment hard and start training, I mentally shut down. I have it a wall at 3 miles. It’s almost as if my body remembers what it went through to train for the 50K Ultra and it’s telling me “NO! I’m not going through this again!” It’s a mental hurdle I have to overcome so how or another. But HOW is the question.

What else did Facebook reveal? It reminded me that I started clearing 25 years of accumulation from my home. It really began because my youngest son refused to keep his room clean. He had joined the military and after boot camp was stationed in his home state, his hometown actually. Therefore, he felt he could come and go as he pleased. I would find his clothes in the middle of the kitchen where he rushed home, changed clothing, and immediately left to meet up with whatever friend was on his calendar that day. After multiple times, with multiple warnings, I decided to take matters into my own hands. While my husband and I informed him that he no longer lived at our home after he joined the military, it didn’t really take affect. I could have had his father go the extreme route but that would not have solved anything. He would have just taken it as another disciplinary attempt from his father. No! It HAD to be ME! He would never expect MOM to draw the line. So, I rented a storage facility, packed up the belongings in his room, and moved them to the storage facility. This was hard for me but it was necessary! I had to get my point across and not rely on others to do it for me. If I had not been the one to draw the line, he would never take me serious. I believe, even now, he thinks it is temporary.

I have learned that I enjoy sharing the house with just my husband and three dogs. I have learned that I can maintain a solid relationship with my children and them not live with me. I actually prefer it. I think I appreciate our time together more. The time is more about us and not constantly nagging about what they did or didn’t do. The 25-year clearance is still not complete as I am taking it one room at a time. Let’s face it! That’s a long time to hoard a bunch of crap that you thought was valuable or at the very least, sentimental, only to realize it was just that…CRAP! The attic is my proof! It will take some time to go through the attic. I may just rent a big metal trash bin and through everything away. Only problem, the attic stairs is broken. I can’t even get up there to get my Christmas decorations.

The last thing, Facebook reminded me was the Neptune Festival. I was in the middle of clearing out the CRAP when Karen asked me to join her and the boys at the festival. I was reluctant, she was insistent! She is one tough cookie and relentless! While we were there, I did not see anything that really stood out to me. Good thing! After all, I am in the middle of a home sweep! The last thing I needed to do was bring in more junk. Besides, I could save that money to spend on renovating my bathrooms. They haven’t changed since the 70s. They look it too! I cleaned them but I never get that satisfying feeling that they are clean. It’s horrible!

We did discover Young Living Essential Oils at the festival though. I had been researching the use of oils lately. Mostly out of curiosity but I really wanted to see if they would work for some of the anxiety issues I have. It all started when I was having a really bad attack at work. One of my coworkers shared a concoction of DoTerra his wife had made up. Ironically, it worked within minutes to give me a calm sensation. Since that day, I had been looking for someone to explain to me how to use them and what each oil was used for. I was looking for more information to prove that it was real and not the next fad. Since it is not FDA approved, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting caught up in another MLM company. And I certainly wasn’t interested in selling it. I was immediately impressed with the young women demonstrating the products. They were extremely knowledgeable. They immediately offered us classes, explained the reasons for each oil, answered all our questions. We each signed up for their starter kit. They contacted me later to ensure I had no other questions. They sent information regarding their upcoming classes. This was exactly what I was looking for. I most impressed with the research the company did to take each oil back to the roots of our ancestors. I am not set to just one company. I want to gain knowledge and educate myself about the various avenues of oils. My big question is, if every company says their oils are 100% pure, then what sets them apart? How do I know they are, in fact, “100% pure”! So my journey continues…