Rewarding Vulnerability

There is no love greater,
Than the one that we know,
Even through all of the distance,
And all of the lows.

Yet there’s little understanding
For the role that we play,
To love our Soldiers regardless,
Every night and each day.

How do you do it?
A question often asked,
It’s complicated yet simple,
Feeling the need to be masked.

We’re told by society to keep smiling,
be strong,
To act like everything is fine,
And that nothing is wrong.

But, it’s not always dreamy,
In fact it’s really quite hard,
Our heart is always vulnerable,
It’s always on guard.

We cry and get angry,
And get confused too,
Yet we love and we wait,
So they can protect you.

Yes, the goodbyes are many,
and the stresses are high,
But the homecomings are worth it,
The best reason to cry.

Our hugs become tighter,
Our kisses more sweet,
A greater appreciation,
for every time that we greet.

You see, this love is rewarding,
It’s one of a kind,
It’s the love that we’ve dreamed of,
And prayed one day to find.

These challenges and trials,
are just par for the course,
Strengthening our love for our Soldier,
Of the US Armed Forces.

Eternity

Constantly Committed Amongst Constant Chaos

chaos3The title might be a mouthful, but it describes my life. Describes our life. Describes the everyday life during deployment. When your significant other is away (whether drill, or training, or work, or deployment), all of the responsibility is left to you. Deployments or long trainings make this extra challenging, as there is no reprieve for a long time.

No matter what your life circumstances are: significant other with or without kids or spouse with or without kids – the reality is that you’re maxed out. Over committed. And your life is probably chaos (both on the inside and the outside). Here’s a little bit about my chaos:

My husband is deployed (this maximizes the chaos of the following items). We have a three year old daughter (trying to raise her with patience, obedience, love, understanding, compassion, and everything else on minimal energy). We have a 6-year old yellow lab that still acts like he’s 6 months old. We are blessed to own our home – but I’m also blessed with all of the maintenance that comes along with it. We have a rental property for me to manage.

I run my own business. I’m taking one college course to further my knowledge in my career (already have my bachelor’s degree). I’m writing what is the equivalent of my career’s thesis paper (I’ve spent over 100 hours on it, and I’m not even close to being 1/4 of the way done).  Oh, and I’m trying to write my first book to help other National Guard and Reservist Spouses survive their deployments and the civilian world. That’s just the big stuff.

Then there is the other everything else items: cooking, cleaning, laundry (including dreaming of actually putting them away), dishes, take out the trash, feed the kid, clean the kid, feed the dog, water the dog, clean the dog, gas up the car, go grocery shopping, clean the car (or…..not), pay the bills, answer calls/texts/emails, and the list goes on and on. Don’t forget to add nurture relationships in there too.

Even if there is a down moment, my mind is filled with what needs to happen next. I feel like I’m on a spinning gerbil wheel and I can’t get off. Even if I’m not figuring out my next step in life, I’m thinking about him: Is he okay? Is he safe? When will I hear from him? Will we have a good conversation? My mind never shuts off.

I also need to send care packages to my husband. Email him. Send him letters. Speak his love language. I enjoy all these things – but I often find myself feeling guilty for not doing enough or feeling that I’m not being enough for him. Why? Because I’m constantly bombarded with the everyday responsibilities that consume my time.

Yes, some of these items above are by choice. But, it doesn’t help when someone points that out. Plus, I can’t say no. I can’t just stop being a parent. I can’t just stop being a wife. I can’t just stop paying the bills, or stop doing the laundry. I could stop my class or stop my demonstration report for my career…but these are things I had planned well before the deployment was thrown into my life. Our life. By saying no to the things for me, I feel that I’d be losing myself.

My husband didn’t say no. He chose to stand up, raise his hand, and say “send me. I’ll go.” Why did he say yes? Because this is what he feels called to do.

There was a point where he was willing to say no, for me. To stay home, for me. But I could see it in his eyes, hear it in his voice. He would always regret it if he didn’t answer the call. (This is for another post). I’m blessed to be married to a man that wants me to pursue my callings too.

I too would regret if I didn’tanswer the call answer my calling: to reach out to other part time military spouses and be an emotional sounding board so they know they are not alone. It’s a calling that I’ve had for a number of years, but life kept getting in the way. I don’t know how I’m going to do it – I’m just going to write, and keep writing. And pray that I help someone. Be a resource for those that feel there is no resource.

So, here we are: constantly committed amongst constant chaos. And that’s okay. At least it helps pass the time!

Unrested Heart

Don’t say that it’ll be easy,
Don’t say that I’ll be fine,
My heart won’t be able to rest,
Until the bed you’re in is mine.

Halfway across the world,
in places unknown,
You’re no longer here,
I have to stand on my own.

The silence is deafening,
I miss your voice,
This isn’t an easy life,
But it was the right choice.

I wish I knew then,
What I’ve realized now,
I wish I could go back,
To reverse the clock somehow.

I took our moments for granted,
I was selfish with my time,
Then how quickly it all changed,
Our life flipped on a dime.

To hug you once more,
To get one more kiss,
Are opportunities gone,
Embraces I miss.

I’m sorry I didn’t hear you,
That my selfishness led to fights,
I’m sorry for going to bed angry,
For those long and lonely nights.

I need you to know I support you,
I’m so proud of the man you’ve become,
I’m sorry it took too long to say it,
Too long for this apology to come.

Deployments are far from simple,
Forcing our life to be put on pause,
To sacrifice our own plans,
And prioritize another’s cause.

So until we’re together again,
Until you’re safe at home,
Never forget how much I love you,
And remember that you’re never alone.Miss Voice

Unpublished work © 2014 Ashley Ella

 

2015 Military Spouse of the Year: Round One Update

Well, I can’t begin to thank everyone enough for their support! I am so humbled to announce that I was honored by 2015 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year Program as the Oregon National Guard Base Winner!

National Guard Winner5

Here is a little background, that was provided to me via a press release: In 2013, Military Spouse magazine expanded the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year® program by introducing an installation echelon. Nominations are now aggregated at the base (Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy), district (Coast Guard), and state level (National Guard). This year, more than 1,600 nominations were submitted from 197 installations across the country. Voters then elected a base level winner at each of these installations. The Base Level Spouses of the Year represent the best of the base, and are a key component in the grass roots level of communication in the military community.

MSOY15“America’s military and their families have been at the ready over the past 13 years we have been at war. The military spouses who have maintained the home front during deployments and training missions have accomplished remarkable feats. They have supported not only our military but added to the strength of the nation,” said Kate Dolack, Editor-in-Chief of Military Spouse magazine. “Now, perhaps more than ever, it is important to recognize those stand out spouses from all branches and at every installation and honor them for their achievements.”

The overall winner and 2015 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year®, will be revealed at a VIP ceremony in Washington, D.C. on May 8th. Base level winners, military officials, and key leaders in the spouse community are invited to the luncheon, as well as at the third annual Military Spouse magazine Town Hall, which will be held on May 7th. For additional information on the Military Spouse of the Year Program ® visit http://msoy.militaryspouse.com.

About Military Spouse

Military Spouse magazine and http://militaryspouse.com, published by Victory Media, is the leading national magazine and online destination for the nation’s 1.1 million military spouses. You can follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/militaryspousemagazine and on Twitter at @MilpouseMag.

The company also publishes G.I. Jobs magazine (gijobs.com) and Vetrepreneur magazine (navoba.com), and has created the Buy Veteran movement (buyveteran.com) powered by NaVOBA.

About Armed Forces InsuranceAFI

AFI was founded in 1887 by military leaders with a single mission: to protect the property of those who protect our nation. The company provides premium quality, competitively-priced property and casualty insurance to military professionals throughout the United States and overseas. AFI understands that military members have unique circumstances and insurance needs, enabling the company to offer a level of personalized service that’s unequaled in the industry. For more information, visit the website at www.afi.org or call 1-800-495-8234.

So, What’s Next?

The top 18 candidates will be announced on January 30th, with those candidates participating in a branch vote which will take place on ONE DAY – February 4th. You can follow the timeline of events here: http://msoy.militaryspouse.com/timeline/.

I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on any updates – but regardless of the outcome, I will be accepting my invitation to Washington, D.C.! I look forward to the opportunity to continue to be an advocate and representative for the Oregon National Guard! Again, thank you for your support – it means more to me than I can express!

Military Spouse of the Year: Round One

ADB%20Photographix-6286-X3Hello everyone! I know you might have seen me posting about this on Facebook and Twitter, but I wanted to go into a little more detail on the blog as well. I recently had the honor of being nominated as Armed Forces Insurances’ Military Spouse of the Year. It would be such a privelege to represent the National Guard as the 2015 MSOY (Military Spouse of the Year), but I need your help!

Today and TODAY ONLY is Round One of voting. Voting is currently taking place, and ends at 11:59pm EST on January 21st (yes, today)! Here is a direct link to my profile where you can vote. If for some reason you cannot find my profile, please enter “Ashley Ella” in the search box.

http://msoy.militaryspouse.com/vote/#view/19957/2599246

Here is a summary of the questions they asked me, in addition to my answers:

Tell us a little about you: I’m a business owner here in Oregon (I appraise commercial agricultural properties with a focus on vineyards and wineries). However, my family always comes first, and I’m the proud spouse of a National Guard soldier. When my husband is not serving the National Guard, he is a full-time state trooper – making me a Mil Spouse by weekend (and trainings and deployments) and an LEO Wife the rest of the time. Needless to say, bullet proof vests / life-style are a part of our every day life. I’m also a mom to a beautiful three year old daughter and am currently working on writing my first book about the unique challenges of being a spouse of a National Guard soldier.

Hobbies: I love traveling (a lot) – if I’m not flying or traveling at least three to four times a year I go stir crazy! I’m also an entrepreneur (which is kind of a hobby, right?) – I’ve started two companies, own a rental property, I’ve been involved with three direct marketing companies, and am currently writing my first book. Hobbies also include volunteering where my passions lie at that time in my life. In regard to the military, I’m recently started a blog to reach out to fellow “part-time” military spouses. I am also pursuing my love for writing by starting my first book. The purpose of the book is to speak to the emotional challenges that come with being a part time military spouse, and how to survive both deployment AND the civilian world.

Share something funny/random/interesting about you: The last time my husband deployed, I dropped him off at the airport, went into work, and got laid off. I was staring down a scary, lonely journey and I had no idea what I was going to do. So, I decided to pursue one of my hobbies at that time (weddings), and started my own wedding coordination company. Within a short time, it became an award winning company numerous years. I was blessed to meet amazing couples, but most importantly I proved to myself that no matter what life could throw at me – I would over come it.

What is something you’ve learned from being a military spouse? I’ve learned so much – that I’ve decided to put it all in a book. I want others in similar situations to know that they are not alone, that their struggles matter, that they are loved, and that they are a crucial part of supporting the US Armed Forces. In very short summary, I have learned that I am strong, committed, brave, compassionate, sensitive, emotional, and driven. And, I have a mission: to help my fellow part-time military spouses survive their deployments AND life in the civilian world.

In your opinion, what is one of the most important issues facing military families? I continually see, read, and talk with fellow military families, and they feel that their sacrifices aren’t taken seriously. There was a sense of unity directly after 9/11, however some of that has started to fall to the way side as the war(s) continue on. I think it is important to bring to the attention of all Americans, that no matter the war, no matter the circumstances, no matter political preferences, soldiers of the US Armed Forces make the decision to fight for what they believe in – and their families sacrifice along side them.

In your opinion, what is one of the best aspects of being in a military family? One of the best aspects of being in a military family is the sense of unity and strength that few people will ever understand. To having someone you love knowingly and voluntarily stand up, raise their hand, and say “me, send me.” I didn’t understand this call to action that my husband has always had until we went to Ground Zero together just two weeks before his first deployment. There was no monument. There was no calm. It was chaos, it was destruction, it was pain. But the man holding my hand was willing to fight for those people, fight for their families, fight for their memories. And now? So was I. Through his first deployment (and now going through our second), I don’t look at being a military family as a burden – I look at it as being a blessing. After the first deployment, each hug meant more. Each kiss meant more. Every second with the one I love meant more – this was a lesson I feel that people spend a lifetime trying to figure out. We were blessed to learn it in our first year of marriage.

What is one thing you would want to accomplish with the MSOY title? I want to bring more recognition and understanding to the unique challenges of being a National Guard (army, air, or reserve) military spouse. These spouses are typically in communities that do not understand the military way of life nor the sacrifices that come along with it. Even amongst the military community, I want all of the branches to work in unity – they serve the same nation. They serve the same people. They serve you. They serve me. Army National Guard families, and other part-time military families, are often the “forgotten” ones. We’re looked at just as the “weekend warriors.” However, we’re just as much a part of serving this nation as any other branch. The Army cannot do it on their own. The Marines cannot do it on their own. The Air Force cannot do it on their own. The Navy cannot do it on their own. The Coast Guard cannot do it on their own. They must work in unity, in oneness. They are equal. Every day they serve, we serve. Even if only serving on “the weekends,” they are always ready for the call. The motto of the National Guard is even “Always Ready, Always There.” Well, as spouses we have to also be “always ready, always there” when duty calls. I want fellow Part-Time military families and spouses to know that they are heard, they are not alone, and that their sacrifices matter.

Thank you for taking the time to read about this great honor. In order to advance to the national round (18 total candidates – three from each branch of the military) – I need your help! I truly appreciate you taking a moment out of your day to support me in this process. Please forward this link to friends and family. Thank you very much!

thankyou_Arizona

Music Monday: Beauty From Pain – Superchick

superchickMusic is a BIG part of me getting through each day. Certain songs, on certain days, really speak to me. Calm me. Validate me. Heal me. So – I decided to start #MusicMonday here on the blog! Each Monday I’ll post the lyrics to a song that helps me in some way. Maybe they’ll help you too.

Today? I’m sharing Beauty From Pain by Superchick. I’ve loved this song for a long time, but it became even more meaningful when my husband told me of the looming second deployment. I couldn’t wrap my mind around having to go through another deployment – this time with a three year old to raise by myself. All our future plans and dreams, put on hold. Again.

My husband kept reminding me how much stronger we became after the last deployment, even with as difficult as it was at the time. So, I present to you Beauty From Pain:

The lights go out all around me
one last candle to keep out the night
and then the darkness surrounds me
I know I’m alive but I feel like I’ve died

and all that’s left is to accept that its over
my dreams ran like sand through the fist that I made
I try to keep warm but I just grow colder
I feel like I’m slipping away

after all this has passed, I still will remain
after I’ve cried my last, they’ll be beauty from pain
though it won’t be today, someday I’ll hope again
and they’ll be beauty from pain
you will bring beauty from my pain

my whole world is the pain inside me
the best I can do is just get through the day
when life before is only a memory
I wonder why god lets me walk through this place

and though I can’t understand why this happened
I know that I will when I look back some day
and see how you’ve brought beauty from ashes
and made me as gold purified through these flamesafter all this has passed, I still will remain

after I’ve cried my last, they’ll be beauty from pain
though it won’t be today, someday I’ll hope again
and they’ll be beauty from pain
you will bring beauty from my pain

here I am at the end of me
trying to hold to what I can’t see
I forgot how to hope this nights been so long
I cling to your promise, there will be a dawn

after all this has passed, I still will remain
after I’ve cried my last, they’ll be beauty from pain
though it won’t be today, someday I’ll hope again
and they’ll be beauty from pain
you will bring beauty from my pain

Heavy Rains, Heavy Heart

Final Rain

Heavy rains, heavy heart.
It’s no secret I hate it when we’re apart.

The pressure is building in the air,
It feels, at time, more than I can bare.

At my weakest, lightening will strike.
The rivers will flood and breach the dike.

The rain pours on, and so do my tears.
Too much uncertainty, too many fears.

The wind is strong, the gusts won’t stop.
I feel like I’m drowning, reaching for the top.

The night is now silent, but the weather is loud.
Another storm looms in the cloud.

The flooding might end, but we’re just at the start,
Of the storm of deployment that consumes my heart.

Unpublished work © 2014 Ashley Ella