Music Monday: Ain’t No Sunshine – Mia Z (cover)

I knowDeployment. No matter how long they’re gone for, it feels too long. It makes it even more challenging when you can’t even know where they are. Or how long he’ll be gone for. It’s a lot to take in. A lot to absorb. And sometimes its just overwhelming.

I don’t have a lot of free time with running a business, raising a three-year old, holding down the fort, etc. however I do find a little time to enjoy The Voice. Recently one of the contestants, Mia Z, did a cover of this song – and I LOVE it. Love it. It speaks to my mood and helps process some of the emotions that come along with deployment. If you can’t heard it yet, I’d check it out.

Ain’t no sunshine when he’s gone
It’s not warm when he’s away
Ain’t no sunshine when he’s gone
And he’s always gone too long
Anytime he goes away

I wonder, this time where he’s gone
Wonder, how long he’s gone to stay
Ain’t no sunshine when he’s gone
And this house just ain’t no home
Anytime he goes away.

And I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know, I know, I know

I know when he’s gone
Always gone too long
Anytime he goes away
Anytime he goes away
Anytime he goes hmmm

Ain’t no sunshine when he’s gone
It’s not warm when he’s away
Ain’t no sunshine when he’s gone
And he’s always gone too long

Music Monday: Count On Me – Bruno Mars

LightWhen I think about our current deployment, or the last deployment, or the military training, or the drills, or the law enforcement trainings, or the over-time shifts, or the everything-in-between-things in our military/law enforcement life – it can get overwhelming. Really, really, really overwhelming.

You never know if the last time you say good-bye, will actually be the last time you say good-bye. You worry constantly. Stress levels are high. It’s easy to get wrapped up in it all.

But, then there is this song – and it reminds me. No matter what, no matter how hard things are, no matter how far apart we are, no matter what challenges life presents us with, I choose my husband and he chooses me. We’re best friends. It hasn’t been easy, it won’t be easy, but we’ll never stop fighting for each other. 

If you ever find yourself stuck in the middle of the sea,
I’ll sail the world to find you
If you ever find yourself lost in the dark and you can’t see,
I’ll be the light to guide you

Find out what we’re made of
When we are called to help our friends in need

You can count on me like one two three
I’ll be there
And I know when I need it I can count on you like four three two
You’ll be there
‘Cause that’s what friends are supposed to do, oh yeah

Whoa, whoa
Oh, oh
Yeah, yeah

If you tossin’ and you’re turnin’ and you just can’t fall asleep
I’ll sing a song
Beside you
And if you ever forget how much you really mean to me
Everyday I will
Remind you

Ooh
Find out what we’re made of
When we are called to help our friends in need

You can count on me like one two three
I’ll be there
And I know when I need it I can count on you like four three two
You’ll be there
‘Cause that’s what friends are supposed to do, oh yeah

Oh, oh
Yeah, yeah

You’ll always have my shoulder when you cry
I’ll never let go
Never say goodbye
You know you can

Count on me like one two three
I’ll be there
And I know when I need it I can count on you like four three two
And you’ll be there
‘Cause that’s what friends are supposed to do, oh yeah

Oh, oh
You can count on me ’cause I can count on you

Forget

United We Serve: Tammy Meyer on being a United States Navy Family

I recently connected with Tammy Meyer, fellow military spouse, and asked for her thoughts on being a Navy family for the #unitedweserve series. Needless to say, I was thrilled when she said yes! Tammy, thank you very much for all of your time and insight!

LEOMILSpouse: Tell me a little history about the branch that you and your family serves? What are some unique challenges that you feel your branch experiences?

 Tammy: First of all, thank you so much Ashley for letting me connect with your readers and “Hello” from a Navy Spouse! More specifically from the Navy Civil Engineer Corp (CEC), Seabee Spouse Community! Most spouses, at least most of my friends in the CEC community will tell you that the CEC is the best community in the Navy! I can say that, because I’m confident most every other community in the Navy would tell you the same thing about their community, from aviation to subs, to ships and everything in between. What’s unique about the Seabee community is that these Navy men and women, unless your part of an Underwater Construction Team, they don’t spend much time, if any, on the water. All of their work is on land. Seabee also stands for CB, or Construction Battalion. They build. They fight. They build bridges and airstrips, schools and hospitals. They build infrastructure and barracks for other branches to work out of when deployed. They drill for water and when necessary, they fight. They defend the perimeters of work sites and convoys to move materials to construction sites. They also provide much needed humanitarian efforts all over the globe. This brings me to the uniqueness of our community which means perpetual deployments.

During peace time or war time, the Seabees and their families are always cycling through continuous deployments. Battalions were commissioned in World War II and haven’t stopped deploying ever since. Seabees were deployed long before Dessert Storm, and Iraq, during Iraq and during Afghanistan Wars, and deployments will continue even as the wars draw down. Although our community might be unique for these reasons and many more, the entire Navy is unique because there are so many different communities that make up our great Navy, which speaks to many different experiences, not only for the service member, but also for their family.

LEOMILSpouse: How did you and your spouse come to be a military family (personal family story)?

Tammy: I married my spouse after he had already been active duty for 12 years. We’ve been married for almost 8 years, together for almost 10. Do the math, and we’ve celebrated the 20 year milestone (and counting). In our time together, we’ve experienced 4 moves (1 international), 2 deployments, and one major hurricane by the name of Katrina. Although my spouse is not currently in a job where he is deployed, I’m experiencing my first ‘geobachelorette’ tour. We did move together, however he will hopefully be home a total of 4 weeks over the next 8 months. Yes. You read that right. He’s not deployed, but he’s gone more than he would be for most deployments. This experience certainly helps me appreciate our other branches and communities even more where they have frequent bouts of separation for undetermined amounts of time. My compassion grows.

LEOMILSpouse: If you could answer/solve a misconception about being a military spouse, what would it be?

Tammy: Before I met my spouse, I had already established and invested a significant amount of time, energy, money and much sacrifice into my own career. After two bachelors degrees, six different professional certifications, and over 12 years climbing the corporate ladder, I married the military (as they say) with much enthusiasm, and didn’t look back. I took my personal and professional experience and opened the virtual doors to my own business as a Certified Life & Business Coach. I spent over 100 hours interviewing other military spouses about their role as a military spouse. From those conversations, I learned that although we are our service members number one fan and biggest supporter, our own personal dreams and goals often get put on hold. Navigating the unique challenges of a military lifestyle often leaves us feeling last. We lose our identity along the way and sometimes don’t even realize where it was that we lost it. Was it during the last deployment or the first? Was it at the last duty station or the one overseas? Was it after welcoming the first child, or the third or during the single parenting? Was it during the last underemployed job, the bout of unemployment, or the 26 hour days finishing a degree?

Although we sometimes can’t pinpoint when and where we’ve lost our identity, or may not even realize that this military lifestyle has swallowed it up, I’m dedicating my time, passion and business to helping spouses keep their identity, to enjoy a thriving career of their own and to pursue their personal best in health and fitness. We lose our identity when we put too much of ourselves into one area of life. By nature, that’s what the role of a military spouse can do, if we let it. Kids, spouse, volunteer work, career, any area of life can take our identity. This is what motivates me to solve a common misconception about being a military spouse. Too many of us, too often, feel that we do have to put our own personal dreams and goals on hold. By default. It comes with the territory. There are too many unknowns.

We don’t. It’s simply a story we tell ourselves and that too many of us believe. The answer starts with asking “What do I need to keep my own identity, or to find it again?” Once you ask yourself that question, don’t stop asking it. The answer can change with every twist and turn of your service members career. If you keep asking yourself what you need to keep your identity, you will be able to identify what you can change and all of the unknowns, the real parts of this military life that we can’t change, will fall away just enough out of your direct focus so that you can see what is possible. What we’re left with is what we can focus on and what we can do and enjoy and be, with a refreshing perspective that puts us at the beginning of a journey to keep our own identity while still supporting our service member. If you stare too long in the rear view mirror, you’ll miss the opportunities that are directly in front of you.

Regardless of branch or how long you and your family have been living the military life, most spouses simply want a little something to call their own; just a little something for yourself. I believe wholeheartedly that you’ll find it.

Tammy Meyer is currently enjoying life in sunny southern CA and keeps her identity by helping others find theirs. She is a speaker, a life and business coach and was overwhelmed with gratitude to receive the 2014 AFI Navy Spouse of the Year Award. She would love to hear your story. tammymeyerlifecoach@gmail.com
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United We Serve: Danielle Medolla on being a United States Coast Guard Family

10153133_10203398300699791_9080168441811397970_nI would like to thank Danielle Medolla, 2014 Coast Guard Spouse of the Year, for taking the time to speak about some of the unique challenges faced by United States Coast Guard families. I hope that by listening to amazing spouses such as Danielle, we can all gain more appreciation, understanding, and respect for all branches of the United States Armed Forces.

LEOMilSpouse: How did you and your spouse come to be a military family (personal family story)?

Danielle: Rob and I met in college, he was working for United Airlines and going to school to be an aircraft mechanic and I was a legal studies major at St. John’s University. Our plans for the future after graduation were to move out to San Francisco (United’s maintenance hub) where Rob would work in maintenance and I would work for the government in some capacity.

Then 9/11 happened. On that very day, I was in lower Manhattan taking a federal agents exam, getting my ducks in a row for my pending graduation. Rob was across the river at school in Queens, across the street from LaGuardia Airport. That day changed us forever. I still get chills even as I type these very words.

Because of the economic impact after that day, the direction of our career plans changed. I never received the results from that test, United Airlines eventually out sourced most of its maintenance work to contractors and jobs were becoming harder and harder to find for recent graduates. I was bless to find work at the large law firm in lower Manhattan and Rob stayed at United for as long as he could. As the completion of Rob’s license neared, he started thinking about what he wanted to do. He took the NYPD exam in hopes to walk the beat for a few years then, move on to working in the helicopter unit.

But at the same time, we met new neighbors who were all Coasties stationed in nearby Sector NY. A few conversations and Rob’s interest was piqued. Looking back it’s hard to believe that we had no clue about the Coast Guard. Every other branch of military service was familiar to us. After all, Ft. Hamilton was practically in our backyards growing up, I attended the fleet week festivities every year with my family touring aircraft carriers and static displays. Watching aircraft carriers pulls into NY Harbor past lady liberty with sailors stand at attention on the deck, it fills you with pride. But what was this Coast Guard?

So with this new branch of service to explore, we searched for the closest recruitment office. Low and behold it is only steps from my office. Rob met with a recruiter and about 12 weeks later Rob was scheduled to go off to boot camp. The day before he leaves, Rob asks me to marry him. We plan our wedding through letters and marry the day after he graduates.

LEOMilSpouse: Tell me a little history about the branch you and your family serves?

Danielle: A little history provided by uscg.mil “The U. S. Coast Guard is simultaneouslyCoastGuard and at all times a military force and federal law enforcement agency dedicated to maritime safety, security, and stewardship missions. We save lives. We protect the environment. We defend the homeland. We enforce Federal laws on the high seas, the nation’s coastal waters and its inland waterways.  We are unique in the Nation and the world.”  What makes us extra special is that the U.S. Coast Guard is the only agency that saves lives. http://www.uscg.mil/top/about/doc/uscg_snapshot.pdf

LEOMilSpouse: What are some unique challenges that you feel your branch experiences?

Danielle: Coast Guard families are somewhat of the odd man out. We are sorta like the big 4 (Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines) in the respect that we are a law enforcing agency. Our members deploy or patrol both homeland waterways and air space, and assist with Navy missions. Where we differ is in our base support. Many times our stations are located in any town USA. Coast Guard housing is limited and not available in all locations, we rely on local communities to welcome us in and support us, much like the National Guard.

And while we are sorta like the other 5, we are completely different. Our deployments/patrols are shorter and much more frequent and that also changes with a duty station. One tour may have a member underway for 6 months at a time, returning home for a few weeks and heading back out, while another may have a member gone for 2 weeks to a month every other month. It is our small size, varied missions and constant integration into “normal” life that makes it very unique. But it is our challenges that make us strong. Currently living in Kodiak, Alaska, the largest Coast Guard base, I am able to see it clearly. I’m an air station spouse and my experience is very different then the spouse that is assigned to a boat. This tour has opened my eyes to their challenges as they are different then mine. I have renewed respect for their sacrifice and I am in awe of their resilience.

LEOMilSpouse: If you could answer/solve a misconception about being a military spouse, what would it be?

Danielle: That we are all unique and our worries are unique as well. I was talking with a spouse whose husband is on a cutter and working out the logistics of getting him off the boat due to a family emergency. She told me that just knowing that he was flying off the boat made her a little nervous. For me, my husband flies off the back of a boat routinely so I don’t think twice about it, it’s those many days out at sea with limited communication that worries me. We have all learned to accept and process the work related stress that comes with being married to a service member, but those stresses are just as unique as the individual.

LEOMilSpouse: What motivates you in your pursuit of supporting not only your spouse, but the US Armed Forces?

Danielle: I enjoy helping people. I enjoy working both angles, supporting my military families, but also enlightening my civilian friends and co-workers about military life. There is so much information out there it’s overwhelming.  I like being that solid source for accurate information. I don’t know everything but what I don’t know I make sure to learn from a reliable, accurate source. As for educating civilians on military life, it’s great to be able to share my experiences with them. We all have good days when we love this life and the opportunity it has afforded us, and we all have bad days when we are upset about an upcoming PCS or deployment and it’s good to share those experiences with our civilian counterparts. It helps for them to understand our way of life and the unique challenges we face.

Thank you again Danielle for all of your time and insight. Please know that you, your husband, and all of your fellow USCG families are respected and appreciated. The branch your family serves provides a crucial role to the U.S. Armed Forces and to the citizens of the United States!

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United We Serve: MILSOs and MILSpouses

thumbThis has been weighing on my heart for awhile, and I felt that writing about it as one of my #unitedweserve posts would be the best way to share my thoughts. And, I couldn’t think of a better day than today (Valentine’s Day) to spread the love. I also want ALL Milsos to know that they are included in any and all of my future united we serve posts!

I’m not a twitter expert, and I’m still learning how to use it – but I’ve noticed that there are a LOT of Milsos on there. What is a Milso? It’s an acronym for Military significant other. Keeping with the theme of defining things, a significant other is a person whose close relationship with an individual affects that individual’s behavior and attitudes. Now, this could mean that the person is either a military girlfriend/boyfriend, or a military spouse. Some military spouses choose to use the acronym Milspouse to clarify their relationship status.

This post isn’t about which title is better or worse or even – this post is about joining together both the milso and milspouse communities. I’ve been reading a lot of twitter posts from milsos (in girlfriend/boyfriend status), and their open hurt about how some milspouses treat them. At first I thought, well, you aren’t married – so you don’t “get” that portion of the relationship that we’re going through.

Then it hit me – its that mindset that is hurting so many milsos that aren’t yet married and/or engaged. And then it hit me again – I too was at one point “just a milso” and not a milspouse.  In fact, unless you married your spouse the same day you met them (or they joined the military after you were married), we’ve all been an unmarried milso before we were a milspouse.

So, why the big separation? Yes, maybe milsos don’t understand the “married” side of things, but why does that even matter? Maybe we should all just stop labeling or trying to justify why one relationship is better or worse than another. Unmarried milsos have their own set of challenges and issues: lack of protection if something happens to their loved one, a potential insecurity from not yet being married, a feeling of not being an equal because they don’t have a ring on their finger.

They need love and support too. They have relationship issues too. They have insecurities and fears too. And who better to help them navigate this sometimes scary, ever-changing, unknown realm of being a milso than someone who has been there and done that before?

Here’s my point: whether you are an unmarried milso or a milspouse: I thank you. I respect you. I cherish you. Thank you for loving a service member (regardless of branch, officer/enlisted side, low rank/high rank, length of relationship, status of relationship, etc.). Each service member needs and deserves love. Each service member sacrifices for our country, and you sacrifice alongside them. And each milso deserves love too.

I respect that you put another’s lifestyle, commitment, and call to service above your own plans, dreams, and desires. I respect that you wait, and wait, and wait some more for a call, message, hug, kiss, or any interaction with your loved one. I respect when you hold the milso title in such high regard, and use it proudly. I respect when you respect other milsos, regardless of relationship status.

I cherish the fact that you’re in this with me. Again, regardless of your relationship status, we’re in this together. We’re one team. Our loved ones serve along side each other, so its time we serve together as well. And I wouldn’t want anyone else on my team. Please join me in bridging the gap, and loving and respecting ALL Milsos! Let’s all be Milso Strong together!

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United We Serve: My Mission (and an upcoming series)

Equality-signOne of the very first posts I wrote was on Military Equality. When I decided to start writing, I didn’t have a plan, or a checklist, or a preconceived idea of what I should write about. I wanted to just start writing about what was happening in my life, while it was happening, and hope that it could help someone.

Well, within a few days of starting my blog, the Military Spouse of the Year nomination process began and my life was changed (you can read about that here). Along with the nomination process, I was called to focus my energies and time on what they call a platform – the “thing” you want to stand for, the “thing” you want to represent, the “thing” you want to achieve during your role as military spouse of the year (base, branch, or national level).

That’s a lot to take it, a lot of things to think about, and both a great honor and a great responsibility. I spent a lot of time thinking about it – but it always circled back to what motivated me to begin writing in the beginning: military equality. As I stated in my original post, the definition for the armed forces includes the military, naval, AND air forces. Not “or,” but “and.” 

No single branch can do it on their own. They must work in unity, in oneness. To me, they are all equal. They serve the same nation. They serve the same people. They serve you. They serve me. And when inequality does occur, it can be hurtful, even when unintentional.

So, on my quest for military equality I will be having a “United We Serve” series, with guest bloggers that will address different aspects of the military. A guest blogger from each branch of the military will share about their specific branches’ unique challenges, misconceptions of their role as a military spouse, and lots, lots more! I have a pretty amazing group of guest bloggers lined up – and I can’t wait to start sharing what they have to say.

I hope that by listening to others, really listening, we can bridge the gap between all military branches. I firmly believe that we are one family, one united front. This is part of my mission: to bring awareness that each branch has their own set of unique challenges – none of which are better or worse than another branches’ challenges. They are just different – and we need to support everyone. Lift everyone up. Be a nation indivisible.

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No, I Don’t Have Time For You

Busy-I-Am-Too-300x3002And no, I’m not trying to be rude. There is no subliminal message, no ulterior motive, no big secret as to why I can’t attend this event. Or drive 30 minutes to your house. Or go out to dinner. Or even have you over for dinner. I’m so busy, I don’t even have time to explain to you why I’m so busy. So stop asking for my time, and stop making me repeat myself in a thousand different ways.

My spouse is deployed. Most days, I feel like I’m drowning in more ways that one. Mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, you name it. It’s me, just me, and I have a beautiful, sensitive, energetic, and stubborn three year old to raise in her Daddy’s absence. I have to be both people not only for her, but for pretty much every aspect of our life. All responsibility is on me. My shoulders.

Yes, I know you offer to help. But most things you can’t help with. You can’t be her mom. Can’t pay my bills. Can’t run my business. Can’t do the accounting for my business, or run my rental property. Can’t write my papers or take my class. These are the things that consume my time, and only I can do them.

You can’t be my husband when I need comfort. Yes, you can provide comfort – but you’re not him and its just not the same. You can’t be my husband when I’m longing to be loved, touched, and held. You can’t be the person that I need or want to talk to when anything comes up. That’s my husband, and no one can replace him. And I miss him like crazy. Every day is painful without him.

If and when I need help, trust me, I’m asking for it. Don’t be surprised that it might not be you though, for no other reason then I spread out my requests and SOSs amongst all of the people in my life. Furthermore, if you make me feel guilty about asking for help, bail on me when I need you (and you said you’d be there), or betray my trust while helping, I’m most likely not going to ask for help from you again. Basically, if you make me feel “icky” in any way while helping, I’m not asking for help from you again.

1505177_450424281725457_138363339_nSure, maybe you could go grocery shopping for me. But, that would require me to make a shopping list, and I don’t have time for that. Sure, maybe you could clean my house. But, that would require me having cleaning supplies on hand, and I haven’t had time to go shopping to restock. Sure, maybe you could babysit, but whatever little time I do find I want to spend with my daughter. She needs me, and I need her.

I don’t need more issues in my life. I don’t personally need it, my marriage doesn’t need it, my child doesn’t need it, my husband doesn’t need it. I don’t have time or the energy to add any additional negativity to my life. I don’t have time or the energy to respond to a million questions. I keep a pretty tight personal bubble these days – it’s a survival tool.

If I need space, please respect it. I’m trying to survive. Don’t add more pressure to me, don’t make me feel like how I’m handling things in the wrong way, don’t speak to me like its my job to appease you.

What do I have time for? For people to lift me up. Tell me you’re thinking of me, but don’t ask for my time, because I don’t have any to give. Tell me you’re praying for me, but don’t ask me questions you know I can’t answer. I wish I had answers too. Tell me you’re here for me, but do not expect me to “make something up” just so you can help me. And for goodness sake, don’t get mad at me when I don’t ask for help. Trust me, this isn’t about you.

And I don’t have time to explain myself. Again.

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