Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Creating A Workspace in Base Housing

The sun rises directly within view of my desk window and beams under the door way.  My favorite part of my mornings right now is grabbing my cup of coffee and opening the door to my "office", greeted by the sun and a clean crisp pink room.  

Living in base housing, we have minimal design stimulation, and just about every house is exactly the same.  When they say white walls, they mean it.  So it has taken me a while to really get this room the way that makes me happy, and I'm here to share how to transform a base housing room, into a place that makes you tick.  

We lucked out and got a 4 bedroom home (spoiled on our first assignment), so this fourth bedroom predominantly worked as a guest room, until I started working at home.  I needed a place where I can hide away but be invigorated by the aesthetics.  I'm a visual person, so I need a place that speaks to me and allows me to get in my zone.  

Most base housing communities will let you paint with permission.  Our particular community only requests a primer over the paint on move out so I decided that extra work is worth creating personal spaces in this blank canvas.  I'll give a full base housing tour later, but since much of my time recently is spent in this room, I decided to give the tour of my most intimate space; this is where I process and pour out my heart in both the book I'm working on and my blog.  

For me, minimal speaks just enough to awaken my creativity and entice my imagination.  And as always, pink just brings my heart to life.  

For a virtual tour of the space, check out my insta stories at my instagram, Jhenandco

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Homecoming

I straightened down the wrinkles on my black lace tank top and adjusted the straps on my shoulders.  I questioned whether I should grab my coat, but I knew I didn't want to be holding anything when I saw him.  

I tried on a few different outfits that night.  The first two were snug dresses that revealed every curve on my body, but I 'aint no size two, so I opted for skinny jeans and a spaghetti strap tank that bordered on lingerie.  It was far more revealing that what I was familiar with, but far more conservative than the first two.  He would be coming home after 6 months, and I wanted to rock his world at first glance, so I took a risk, and boy would I regret it.

Days before his arrival, I googled homecomings, asked my experienced milspouse friends, and read up on everything I could to make sure we'd have an amazing first homecoming.  His flight would be arriving late at night, so I decided to pretend I was going out with friends and had my girls do a sleep over at a friends house.  They had no idea their dad would be coming home, and I wanted to surprise them later.  With everything I read and heard, I was pretty certain I was fully prepared for an all out amazing homecoming, however none of it would prepare me for how it would really go down.  

It was 40 degrees outside and I opted to forgo the jacket.  Surely, I could make the walk from my car to the airport just fine, it was late and I could only imagine the small airport would be mostly empty.  I should have assumed otherwise when I pulled into the parking lot to find very little parking spaces available, and the ones that were were the farthest away from the entrance.  I parked and grabbed my little clutch and started speed walking through the parking lot.  It was extremely cold and I quickly regretted the tank that left very little to the imagination.  

When I made it inside I was surprised to see our city's tiny airport packed with guests.  I immediately felt scantly clad and wrapped my arms across my chest trying to appear as natural as possible.  I made it up the walkway, unsure where he would be arriving from, when I received a text that his plane landed but they were stuck on the tarmac for a bit.  I was partly relieved because my nerves of seeing him were making my stomach turn, but also a bit bummed because I wasn't comfortable in my outfit among the crowd.  

When I arrived to the top of the escalator I saw a familiar face and my stomach dropped.  His shop's NCOIC (or overall supervisor) was standing there.  He saw me immediately and smiled.  

Oh frick.  He's the last person I wanted to see me so exposed. 

As I walked up to him, my arms crossed over my chest, he introduced his Squadron Commander to meI extended my arm to shake his hand.  I felt humiliated at my exposure.  He was kind, appropriate, and quickly turned an walked away and stood on the other side of the group.   

Wrong!  He's the last one I wanted to see me so exposed.  Get me out of here.

I looked around at the crowed and noticed EVERYONE wearing sweatpants and big baggy jackets.  To be fair it was cold outside, but had I missed a memo somewhere when reading up on homecomings?  I was the only one dressed up.  Other spouses were even dressed comfortable and warm.  I stood out horribly among what felt like his entire CE Squadron in the airport that evening.  I slowly walked over to the corner and attempted to hide behind a pole as I waited.  The anticipation was torture.  Not only was I desperate to get the heck out of dodge, but I also wanted to see him so bad.  

Then he walked out.  He was wearing light grey shorts and a t shirt.  Great.  Even he was dressed down.  He looked exhausted but happy to see me.  He shook the hand of his NCOIC but his eyes never left mine.  He walked up, wrapped his arms around me tight, and kissed me.  We opted against having any photos taken.  I wanted to take in the moment purely for my memory, instead of feeling like I had to perform for pictures (although in hindsight, I would have photos taken, because it was going to be the least intimate moment I could have imagined).  

As he hugged me, I whispered in his ear, "I'm not wearing much, you need to get me out of here."  He hadn't even noticed my outfit (ugh, he didn't even notice!), so he looked down, gave me a smirk, then grabbed my hand and led me to the baggage terminal.  Giddy, I was ready to both be alone with him as well as be far away from the crowd, but if my night could get any better, it wasn't going to just yet.  The bags were delayed and the crowds formed around us again as we waited.  His friends came up, tried chatting and I continued to try and hide away, pretending my arms provided a shell that could make me invisible.  

We finally got his bags, and he promised to whisk me away, finally getting me far out of reach of anyone's sight and alone with him.

So, if you're reading this and wondering how you should prepare for your spouse's homecoming, keep in mind that people most likely will be there.  Maybe save that lingerie top for when you two are finally alone.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Struggles of a Military Family

I was recently asked a question over social media that I instantly knew would produce a loaded answer.  I gave a quick simple response at the time with the intent to answer it in depth here.  

The question sparked a lengthy discussion among my friends and I learned that this question would evoke answers that really can only be defined uniquely.  There isn't a simple obvious answer to such a question, or at least I haven't found one yet.  

She wrote, "What's the hardest part about being a mil fam?  It will be us soon with kids and I'm sure it's tough."

See what I mean... it's a loaded question with a loaded answer.  So here I go...

Being a military family means that your spouse commits his or her life to the United States of America.  That means that the rules and regulations, the mission, and the government comes first.  Understanding that part and then accepting it, means that any challenges in dealing with your time as a military family, is basically rooted in that foundation.  

When my husband first left for training, it took some rough adjusting to the realization that we couldn't just do whatever we wanted.  Every decision we made had to go through a series of processes.  That caused a few meltdowns in the beginning.  I remember crying one day, curled in a ball on the floor on the side of my bed, because we couldn't take him home with us one weekend because someone had broken a dorm rule and it meant all the trainees were to remain on base.  But as time went on, you learn to adjust and find a new way of living.  Because one thing every military family knows is that... plans change.  And they change all the time.  Adapting to broken schedules, dates constantly changing, and the every obvious, hurry up and wait, will be a staple in learning how to survive.  

Being far away from family and friends, is also a major challenge for many.  This part is different for so many.  For some, being away from their support system can be a great culture shock and one of the biggest challenges they face.  Learning to form new support systems can be almost debilitating for some, but for other's it can be exciting.  I'll dive into ways I, awkwardly but successfully, made a new community of support that formed deeper relationships than I had ever known, but for now, just know that for each person this struggle differs.  

But forming new relationships in the military means that it will lead to goodbyes, and goodbyes are often a challenge.  In fact, they are hard.  They are really, really hard.  Whether you have to say goodbye again to family after a nice long visit, or goodbye to a new friend that has just been given a new assignment and moving far away, goodbyes just aren't easy.  

And then there is the dreaded deployment.  I have yet to meet a military family that loves deployments.  I have met many who know how to handle them with grace and ease, but they don't love them, that's for sure.  I've written a post for another blog that I'll be sharing on my own soon regarding marriage and the deployment return, but really deployments fall as probably one of the hardest parts of being a military family.  

Lastly, for me, finding and developing my own career is almost like a crapshoot.  Knowing my time is limited in one location means finding a job in your career field is a challenge, and darn near impossible for many.  Military spouses put much of their career on hold, or on a long term development plan, while their active duty spouse moves up in rank and constant moves around the country.  

With all these challenges, I can say that joining the military was not only the best thing for my husband, but it was also the greatest passion our family has ever found.  Every sacrifice, every challenge, and every struggle we face as a military family is worth it, not because we found some greater call in the military, but because we found OUR call.  When you, as a family unit, believe in the heart and mission behind your service members role in the United States Military, everything you have and will face will be worth it.  

I know I haven't listed every challenge to being a military family, and maybe I haven't listed what was the hardest for you, so if you have a different answer, feel free to leave it in the comments below!  

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Cheers to Water Coolers & Community

My biggest hope for this space is to create a sense of community among spouses, just like me, trying to navigate the rough waters of military life and embracing the mess of it all.  

So how do we do that?  

Well, let me start with telling you a little story...

I stared out the window of our tiny little apartment on the first floor.  New spouses were constantly moving in and I was previously one of them, so you can imagine just how nosy I would be every time I saw vehicles packed to the brim pull up and a young lady would step out and struggle to unload the contents of her vehicle alone.  We were all brand new Air Force spouses and we had found a little apartment community for people just like us.  Except here I was, 30 years old with two older children.  Everyone else appeared under 20 with maybe an infant.  This was going to be a challenge.  

It was a beautiful Texas day when I saw her; a young mom carrying her baby in a back pack carrier and she lugged a large suitcase across the long stretch of side walk and walked far beyond where I could see.  She intrigued me, mostly because she looked close to my age, but also because I was curious what she was doing.  I walked away and a little bit later I watched her walk back across the window lugging the suitcase again.  I contemplated asking her if she needed help, but my nerves kicked in opted to just watch her instead.  Eventually she disappeared into one of the doors.  About an hour later, I saw her walk across again, baby and luggage in tow.  I could not figure out for the life of me what she was doing and who was this lady walking back and forth with a baby on her back and a luggage dragging behind.  

Fast forward a few weeks, I was still curious to get to know this lady.  I really wanted to be her friend.  Ever do that?  Do you ever spot someone and want to be there friend?  It's ok, you can admit it, because I do.  I do that all the time.  Anyway...

I sat down at my computer desk one day after putting my two year old down for a nap and saw her sitting on a blanket with her baby right outside my window.  Her apartment was a few doors down so I was really curious why she was sitting in front of my window.  I was too scared (and lame) to just go right out there and introduce my self, so I scanned the apartment looking for a reason to go outside.  I caught a glimpse of my van parked outside and remembered I had a cooler in the trunk so I staged a plan to casually grab my cooler and walk back and pull an oh I didn't notice you there kind of move.  Seemed brilliant at the time.  

As I walked out, I kept my head down and carried on with a mission to go get my cooler.  I walked back and...

"Oh, hello!  I didn't notice you there!  My name is Jhen."  My cooler swang in my arms as I peppily walked towards her.

"Hi!  I'm Elise."

A few weeks later, Elise and I were on our usual stroller walks, when I humbly confessed the day I went to get a cooler.  She laughed and said she knew because she was sitting outside my window hoping I'd come out and say hello.  She was my very first military spouse friend and we are still friends to this day, although we're countries away (her cool pilot hubby got overseas orders while we ended up stateside, as expected).  

So what does all this mean for us?  What does all this mean for this space?  

Much like my lame excuse of "grabbing a cooler", building community is all about taking risks, often feeling like a fool.  When we go out of our comfort zones, embarrassing or not, we're building a foundation of community.  Relationships take work.  Lots of work, and most of it requires you stepping out of your comfort zone. 

So to start this space, I'm taking the plunge to risk so much, but there isn't a fear greater than the belief I have for what this space will become.  So cheers to water coolers and community!