Military

Five Career Hacks for the Military Spouse

This was first published on Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I am honored to work with them!

5 Career Hacks for the Military Spouse.png

One of the greatest challenges, and topic most talked about by military spouses, is finding work. That may come as a shock to some who assume it would be milking their service member for benefits, eating all day and not working; alas, no. A majority of the spouses I have come in contact with are desperate to continue working in their field or continuing their education to become gainfully employed in the future.

It is not always easy. Moving every few years, or even more often if you’re in the training pipeline like we are, makes employment complicated. Depending on your location, there may be few or no positions in your path, or employers may be reluctant to hire you due to your status as a military spouse. It gets tricky explaining frequent job changes on your résumé, and they may not want to hire someone who will most likely not be long-term. All of this, in addition to other reasons, makes things murky; but, it isn’t impossible, and there are opportunities available which I have compiled below:

5-career-hacks-for-the-military-spouse

  1. Working from Home: There are many benefits to working from home. It may be one of the few PCS proof work options available to military spouses. Do your research on the different positions and options available which may fit your skill set, and then get to applying! Be careful of scams, since unfortunately they do exist, but if you’re diligent in your research on companies and any offers you may receive, this may be a great option for you and your career.
  2. Furthering your Education: Whether you are currently in school, looking to begin a new program, or wanting to advance your career with more education, there are tons of options available for military spouses. You may even be able to receive tuition assistance which is definitely helpful on any budget. Be sure to check out options through MYCAA.
  3. Connect with a Mentor: Taking the time to find someone in your location  who can help you not only find employment but develop your skills and connections will make your transition much easier. Even if they do not work in your field, their ability to help you adjust to a new station will give you the flexibility to focus on your next steps career-wise.
  4. Build your Business: Many military spouses have their own businesses they support. Growing your personal business can be a great way to increase income, connect with your community and grow personally. Do this through connecting online, local conferences, and working with a mentor specific to your field. Set goals for where you would like your business to grow and what steps you need to take to achieve them.
  5. Start a New Career: This may be one of the scarier paths military spouses can choose. However, as we’ve learned from being in the military, life is not meant to be lived standing still. If you are feeling like you have the opportunity to change your career be sure to do your research on the course you will take. What skills do you already posses that are transferable? What skills will you need to learn? Is this new path going to be a feasible option with the military lifestyle? Feel confident when making your choice, plan for success and then buckle down and get to work to make it a reality.

One of the biggest mistakes one can make is trying to do it alone. So get out of your comfort zone, connect with other spouses, connect with your community, find a mentor-have I broken that record yet?- and watch your career take shape and grow. It might not be what you thought it was going to be 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even last year, but it is still yours. You are still a success, and your purpose and impact will be felt everywhere you go.

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Travel

SODEL-The Five Beaches you Have to Visit

you-are-simply-theIt’s been over two months since I moved away from the only home I’ve every really known of southern Delaware and moved to Pensacola Florida. I’m going to be heading home for a visit next month which actually got me missing home a little bit more than I thought I would. So in honor of my roots, I thought I would share a bit about some of the beaches we have at home. You might be thinking, a beach is a beach, and while they all have sand and water in common, each one has it’s own uniqueness and quirks to offer.

  1. Lewes Beach– I love Lewes for it’s history, small restaurants and boutiques, views and charm. Lewes is the “first town in the first state” and has so much to offer. You can peruse downtown which has all the history you can want, the restaurants are yummy and the shops are quaint and you will for sure find something that will catch your eye. From downtown, the canal is a brief walk away; which offers more scenic views, fishing and restaurants. about 3/4 of a mile from the canal is Lewes Beach. Lewes Beach is a small beach with very small, if any, waves. You can catch the ferry in Lewes which will take you to Cape May, NJ, or you can just watch the boats come in and out of port. You can also find the Cape Henlopen State Park for additional nature, more beaches and more fishing. Some notable restaurants to try would be Touch of Italy for italian, King’s Icecream for icecream, Agave for mexican, and Crooked Hammock Brewery for a laid back, fun atmosphere.lighthouse
  2. Rehoboth Beach Rehoboth Beach is where you want to go for shopping. Rehoboth has the Tanger Outlets which is great for tax free shopping. Rehoboth also has some delicious restaurants to choose from and I’m sad I didn’t get to try ALL of them before moving, but that’s probably for the best. Once you get down towards the ocean on Rehoboth ave. you’ll find tons more shopping and restaurants, and once you hit the end you’ll have the whole boardwalk to peruse as well. You can get candy, popcorn, play in the arcades or ride rides at Funland. Definitley a fun time for the whole family. Some notable restaurants would be The Greene Turtle on the boardwalk, Delaware Distilling Company for really good margaritas and crab mac and cheese, and Arena’s for a laid back, fun atmosphere.de-hp-main-005
  3. Dewey Beach Dewey is definitely known for it’s nightlife. If you have a babysitter, or are childfree and would like some dancing and drinks, head out to Dewey Beach. Be careful driving through as pedestrians tend to flood into the streets sometimes. Some popular spots include, The Starboard, Northbeach, and the Rusty Rudder. Who am I kidding, there are so many bars and restaurants the line the strip, you can do a crawl to check out as many as you want until you find one you don’t want to leave. I haven’t eaten in Dewey too many times, but I’ve heard marvelous things about The Starboard for brunch, and Que Pasa for tacos.deweybeachsign1
  4. Bethany Beach– Bethany is another family friendly beach. It tends to not be as crowded as Rehoboth, but it doesn’t have the carnival rides. However if you’re just looking for the beach and small boardwalk, then Bethany is definitely for you. Some notable restaurants include Matt’s Fish Camp, DiFebo’s Restaurant for italian, and Sunshine Crepe’s for breakfast food.

    bethany-beach-entrance_905cb02f-e51e-46ed-818c-913dfc8403be
    credit: www.visitdelaware.com
  5. Fenwick Island– Fenwick is as far south as you can go before hitting the MD state line. I’ve only been to Fenwick a handful of times and each time the waves were huuuuuuge. Definitely great for boogie boarding on most days, unless they’re too big and then it’s a little dangerous and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are prepared for getting tumbled around quite a bit. Fenwick also has a number of mini golf places you should add to your itinerary if you’re in the area. Some notable restaurants include Harpoon Hannas or Fenwick Crab House for yummy seafood. Don’t like seafood? Well I’m sure they have other stuff, but I couldn’t tell you what because seafood is amazing.fenwick_beach_photo-560x254

For my fellow native Delawareans, I know so much was left out of this post. There are so many places and reasons to visit our beaches, but our attention spans are short, had to keep it brief.

I am officially a little a homesick and a lot hungry now after reflecting on the great beach spots back home. I hope you get a chance to check out at least one of these hidden gems. So often I get a confused look when I tell people I’m from Delaware, many people have never even heard of the state, which is embarrassing and you should work on your geography. So if you find yourself in the northeast, swing by, you won’t be disappointed.

Have you been to Delaware? What did you do? Where did you go? What did you see?

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Health

Five Weight Loss Myths

weight-loss-mythsI happen to be writing this early in the week. While I know that I have gained weight since the last time I did an update, I also know I have made every effort to get back on track this week, so I’m hoping for a loss on the scale by the time this is posted on Friday. I’ll throw an update on here last minute Friday morning.

Anywho, so there are a lot of tips and tricks and also false claims on how to lose weight. I have shared what I have been successful doing in the past and I decided my anecdotal story clearly validates it to be concrete science and should rightfully share it with you.

Weight loss Myths:

  1. Snacking is Bad: Snacking on garbage is bad. Snacking on real food like fruits and vegetables is not bad. When in weight loss mode I will have a snack at least 3x a day in between my meals to keep me from getting hungry. If I miss a snack and then mealtime rolls around and I’m ravenous, I’m more likely to overeat or eat not so healthy options. Don’t snack on these:false_snacks are Bad.png
  2. Fast Food is Bad: Eating garbage at the fast food restaurant is bad. There are healthy options at almost every fast food restaurant. You need to train yourself to choose these options, or downsize your portions. For example, I absolutely love the spicy chicken sandwich at Chick Fil A, but it’s not exactly the healthiest option. So I save that bad boy for special occasions and select the cool chicken wrap instead. Skip the fries and go with a salad or fruit cup instead and you’re golden. False_Fast Food is Bad.png
  3. Carbohydrates are Bad: Not all carbs are bad! Processed carbs are not the best choice, so if you can skip the white breads and pastas and shoot for whole grains, beans and brown rice, you’re going to be on a better track. Also fruits and veggies have carbs, but are super great for giving you energy and keeping you full longer than your processed choices. False_carbs are bad.png
  4. Weightlifting will Make you Gain Weight: False. Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica. Doesn’t make sense? Sorry, just my favorite scene from The Office. So I did weightlifting over the summer and I didn’t gain weight. I lost weight. I’ve chatted about this before. Read all my weight loss posts. There aren’t that many and you’ve got time. false_weight-lifting-equals-weight-gain
  5. Eating Late at Night=Weight Gain: Incorrect. As long as you aren’t just consuming more foods than you would in a typical day, then it doesn’t matter what time of the day you consume them. Does that make sense? So you get off work late and are starving and eat at 9pm, if that is your dinner, it doesn’t matter if you eat it at 9pm or 6pm. However if it is now your 2nd dinner, then we may have a problem.

Golly gee, aren’t weight issues fun? Final note: I started looking up images on weight loss to add some pizzazz to this post and pictures of pizza come up. Seriously? It’s a damn conspiracy to keep us all fat.

Update on my current weightloss:

Week 8: I gained 1.6 lbs, bringing the total since Jan.3 to 5.6 lbs lost, and from my heaviest weight ever 42.4 lbs.

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Random Ramblings

Give me a break… give me a break… break me off a piece of that.. (fill in the blank)

give-me-a-breakI didn’t write anything last week. If you follow my page on Facebook then you may have caught a quick post about what I did do last week. It consisted of:

  1. Writing/Editing for the Military Spouse Advocacy Network
    • I write two blog posts and two social media shares a month for the Military Spouse Advocacy Network. I write about topics and issues new military spouses may be curious about. You can look forward to reading about my first trip to the commissary and if military spouses are allowed to be involved or vocal in politics. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to do this and have learned so much in such a short amount of time. I hope to continue doing this for as long as possible. logomsan-01-2-clear-background
  2. Researching immigration procedures
    • My husband is an immigrant. No he isn’t my mail order bride. He arrived as a teenager with his mom and brother, became a permanent resident for 5 years and then applied for citizenship. Despite watching my husband go through the legal process to citizenship, I still didn’t know much about the procedure and all it entails. This week my eyes were widened when just taking a few moments to peruse the USICS website. I have a masters degree and consider myself a pretty intelligent person. I still struggled with understanding some of the logistics and proper procedures one would take to be granted a visa into the country. So when people say that illegal immigrants just need to do things the “right and legal way”. They need to get off their high fucking horse. It’s not as simple as they try to make it seem. And the wait times are crazy. Oh and they also just raised their fees. On average fees went up 21%, but they can only claim fame to that low-ish sounding increase because while some fees only went up $20, others damn near doubled.
    • I wasn’t only interested in learning more about immigration because of my husband being an immigrant, but also because a number of my friends are as well. And with the political climate around immigration right now, a few of them came to me and shared their own personal experiences and fears they are having right now. I have two friends with spouses in the military. Their husbands are American-born and now they(my friends) are seeking citizenship. I also have another friend who applied for the DACA program but whether or not she will be allowed to continue to stay remains to be up in the air with the new administration.
      • Quick little fun fact about the DACA program: to qualify you cannot have been “convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor,or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety”. A significant misdemeanor includes a DUI. My US representative, Matt Gaetz, was arrested for a DUI in 2008 and avoided conviction thanks to his daddy being a US Senator and now gets to represent the 1st district of Florida. Moral of the story: when you’re a white male and know the right people, you can drive under the influence and not only avoid criminal convictions, you can also hold a position of power. If you’re an immigrant seeking permission to stay in the only country you’ve known as your home, toe the line and even then- good fucking luck. 6a0133f5d4f71b970b01a3fcc0175c970b-600wi
  3. Researching contraception and abortion
    • It is not a secret that I am a huge supporter of choices and education in contraception. I also always considered myself as pro-choice under the radar. I never voiced my opinion on the issue because it is so controversial and even though I would say I was pro-choice if asked, I didn’t really take the time to consider the details of what the meant for me. Do I support abortion at any time during pregnancy? When does life truly begin? Do I only support in times of rape, incest or the woman’s health?
    • I decided it wasn’t enough to simply have an opinion, I wanted to truly understand what I was having an opinion about, how and why others felt the way they did and to be able to justify my own stance if ever called on my shit.
    • The end result was: you can literally find anything on the internet to support what you already believe so I won’t even bother linking you to any of the sources I found, because if you you believe differently, you will also find sources to support your beliefs. Regardless, what I ended up with- and in no way am I trying to convince you of changing what you may already believe, just sharing my current position- I am still pro-choice. I think women should be able to have access to safe abortions up to 20 weeks. It is only after 20 weeks that a fetus has developed enough to sustain life outside of the womb and even then the chances of survivability are extremely low. A majority of abortions occur during this timeframe and I do not think it is my place to judge the reasoning for a woman to feel like she is not prepared to be a mother. boycott36
    • I understand that many disagree with this stance. But I also understand that fewer unwanted pregnancies occur due to carelessness of not using contraception and instead occur due to failed contraception. Women should not be forced into continuing a pregnancy that is unwanted, it’s not best for the woman and it would not be best for that child if they were carried full term.
      • CDC Stats: Women in their twenties accounted for the majority of abortions in 2013 and throughout the period of analysis. The majority of abortions in 2013 took place early in gestation:  91.6% of abortions were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation; a smaller number of abortions (7.1%) were performed at 14–20 weeks’ gestation, and even fewer (1.3%) were performed at ≥21 weeks’ gestation.3592bd5644e2f8f3bb7aae64cc5737ab.png
    • We’ve spent decades pushing condoms (failure rate of 18%), birth control pills (failure rate of 9%), or abstinence(puh-lease) as the best or only forms of preventing pregnancy and there are now better options. Long-term contraception such as implants and IUDs are more effective; the failure rate of an IUD is .8%, but they’re also more expensive so insurance companies do not want to pay for them. It was only under the Affordable Care Act that insurance is required to cover these options for women’s health. I hope it stays this way, because due to the increase in education and access to free contraception, abortion rates have fallen considerably. Source.birth-control-methods
  4. Eating a lot of food
    • I seriously fell off the wagon when it came to diet and exercise. I was blowing a lot of smoke apparently with all that talk about sticking to my plans, and tracking, and “something clicking”. I’m human. It happens. We’ll try again tomorrow.weightloss-the-struggle-is-real
  5. Updating my résumé and looking into more things that make money because… bills
    • I’ve been in Florida since December. I’ve tentatively been looking for paying jobs while here, but we always knew we would only be here short term before moving on with my husband’s flight school. Well we should be moving on in the next couple months, so I thought it would be wise to start looking more aggressively for a gig that pays at our next destination.

So I took a break from my personal writing and completed the above items. But oh how I’ve missed the clicking of my keyboard and also reading updates from fellow bloggers. So I’m back! Did you notice I was gone? It’s ok if not. I have some pretty exciting ideas for future posts, so be sure to not let me fall off the grid again!

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Military

New MilSpouse, New You! 32 Military Definitions to get you Through!

This was first published on Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I am honored to work with them!

new-year-new-you-3Weight loss, pay off debt, save money, learn something new! As if you could forget, it’s a brand new year and with that comes everyone making New Year’s resolutions.

You may have promised yourself to pursue some of these endeavors also, but chances are, as a new military spouse, you probably have something a lot more simple, yet so complicated on your goal sheet. Raise your hand if that goal is to learn the language of the military. Hello acronyms!

Or maybe it’s to survive your first PCS (permanent change of station). What in the world is a personally procured move? What about finishing your education or finding a job in your career field? MYCAA who?

You have a set of unique challenges to tackle and it’s something your civilian family and friends may not fully understand or be able to help with. This is where your military network comes in to offer the tools you need to save the day! To survive this crazy life as a military spouse, self-reliance, confidence and empowerment is key. So prepare to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and we’re going to learn some need-to-knows together.

Let’s start with the communication barrier. Who would have thought you’d need a translator when being married to your love in the military? As a former teacher, I thought the world of education had a lot of acronyms to memorize, but the military definitely takes the gold medal. The list is probably infinite, but here are some very common acronyms and vocabulary you’ll need to know to get started32 Need to Know DefinitionsFor the New Military Spouse-3.png

Whew! Are you ready for the quiz later? These terms will be old hat in no time at all and you’ll be on your way to fluent in the language of the military!

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Health

Weight loss. The Struggle is Real.

weightloss-the-struggle-is-realGuess who has two thumbs and fell off the wagon this week????….. This guy!! img_0922

Just kidding….she doesn’t have thumbs…. and it was me…

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I think it all started a couple weeks ago when we went to New Orleans. Beignets are a gateway drug ya’ll. Steer clear…. no, don’t steer clear, they’re amazing. All the cool kids are doing it.

Anyways, so New Orleans was like my teaser, I came home and got back into the groove of things for the most part but I made some pretty big errors too. I didn’t track my food, and I skipped a few workouts. Damn it Carlie! I should know better by now. Alas, here I am, and my daily weigh ins are definitely indicating I will have a weight gain this week. Especially since my mother in law has been here all week, and when people come to visit on vacation, they want to eat like they’re on vacation, which makes sense, because they’re on vacation! But damn it, I’m not on vacation and I have a very delicate balance I need to maintain when trying to lose weight!

So here I am, thinking about what the five ways I went wrong this week:

  1. Plan– I did not make a plan for the week. Normally I have a schedule for every meal and snack and I failed to do this. I am a planner and failing to plan definitely led to a plan for failure. womp womp womp. plan-ahead
  2. Restaurants, Diners, and Dives. Oh my!– I should’ve mapped out what meals would be eaten out. This would have allowed me to make more conservative choices at home in preparation for eating out, or I could have researched the menus to make better choices in advance of arriving to the restaurant. Alas, I let my eyes roam the menu which lead to one too many portions of mac and cheese and other heavy carb and fat-filled items.16403235_1219686821446509_4454195779467240004_o
  3. Workouts– I was on a very good schedule with my workouts. Monday, Wednesday, Friday I do dance fitness and strength training at home. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday I jog and swim laps. This week not so much. I have really slacked off and only did each workout one time. blah.fullsizeoutput_8c4
  4. Ice cream– So much ice cream. We may have had ice cream twice a day somedays. We would get it from various ice cream shops while out and about and then I had Halo Top at home as well. Lord, what is wrong with me. c5fde1fd981c875dd58d9196bf9b0ca1
  5. Connect– I blame my brother. Typically I talk on the phone to my brother a couple times a week. And we talk about how we’re doing with our weight loss goals. The last couple weeks, I’ve been busy when he called or he’s been busy at work and hasn’t had a chance to discuss. So it’s been too easy to ignore the fact that the above 4 items occurred. This is your fault Joshua. I hope you’re happy.548311

In all seriousness though, I don’t really blame my brother. I slacked off this week. I’m to blame. BUT…. I’m human and I’m in this for the long haul, so I will suck it up, put the ice cream away and get back to the plan. I know you all have my back, and it keeps me motivated when someone tells me how I have motivated them! Never in a million years would I think I could do that for someone else. So I shall get back to work immediately! I have some hot points to earn.

Update on my current weightloss:

Week 6: I gained 2.6 lbs, bringing the total since Jan.3 up to 7.2 lbs lost, and from my heaviest weight ever 44 lbs. According to my weightloss spreadsheet I’m behind schedule from where I could be. Disappointing and motivating at the same time to quit dicking around.

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Random Ramblings

Getting to know Myself

getting-to-know-myself

I have experienced so many changes in a short amount of time.

I moved over 1000 miles away from family and friends.screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-2-54-55-pm

I left a career that was incredibly fulfilling and felt like I was contributing greatly to my community. readiness_logodesign_delaware_final

I grew in my convictions and values. 

I chose to change direction with my career and pursue a dream I never thought I’d have the chance to make a reality.

I have been demeaned, insulted, and “unfriended” due to my choices and beliefs.

I am more informed than I have ever been in the past from a lot of research. I have more headaches from said research.

I am more politically involved than I ever have been before. jimhightower1

I am exhausted. 

I work for myself, for no pay. The price I am paying in the now, for what I want in the future.

I am now a writer for the Military Spouse Advocacy Network. logomsan-01-2-clear-background

I still need to work on spending too much time on social media.

I’ve lost ten pounds, but I feel my motivation dwindling.

I feel like I am more myself than I ever have been. 

I think everyone should spend more time reflecting on themselves and what they have done for their community in the last year. If the answer is nothing, you should feel guilty. We have become a very selfish society.

I spend too much time worried about saying the right things in the right way, which sometimes leads to saying nothing at all. 191

I can usually see both sides of an argument and have a hard time choosing sides, this leads to headaches as well. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t as understanding so I could be more firm in my convictions.

I don’t think I’ve truly grieved the loss of both my parents.

I am angry and defensive that my success is judged by the amount of my paycheck or lack thereof. I feel like I have achieved a lot, but will be discredited regardless.

I wish I could fix so many things I see wrong, but feel overwhelmed. I still do what I can, but worry it isn’t enough.

I wish people were more openminded. I wish people knew what it was like to live in poverty. To feel hopeless and unsupported. I wish there wasn’t a stigma around mental health and better resources. I wish people weren’t assholes.

I made new friends, grew closer with old friends, and distanced myself from others.

I traveled. I tried new things.

I laughed until I cried. I made others laugh too.

I changed. I grew. the-great-thing-in-this-world-is-not-so-much-where-you-stand-as-in-what-direction-you-are-moving

 

I found an old quote I first read 10 years ago. It’s truer today, than it was 10 years ago.

“I want to be free to act, and I also want my actions to mean something”

 

Do your actions mean something? Spend some time reflecting on your life today. Will you like what you see?

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Military

Courage and Inspiration: Synonymous with Military Spouse

In the eight months I have been a military spouse I have met so many diverse, inspirational, and courageous women. Every single one of them keeps me motivated and inspired to continue to work hard and make a difference every single day.courage-and-inspiration-synonymous-with-military-spouse

I have met women who are in college -while also working jobs- to obtain their own degree and have a career alongside their military significant other (SO). I have met women who are living apart from their SO for a number of different reasons, like school, or economical circumstances, or training. I have met women who run their own businesses, while running a household and raising their children to not be little assholes. I have met women who volunteer on base, off base, and virtually. I have met women who struggle with their mental health, physical health, family issues, money problems, moving to a different side of the country without a job or knowing anyone there. And I have seen them persevere through it all.

Along with meeting all of these amazing people, I have also become wiser to the stereotypes and stigma that comes along with being with a spouse/fiancé/boyfriend in the military. The expectation is that the non-military SO doesn’t work, is lazy, and is just a moocher along for the ride and benefits. There may be people out there that do fit this description, but I have yet to meet them. Sometimes, when faced with this expectation that if you’re a military spouse, you’re a dependa-potamus (as it is so lovingly referred to), it can get you a little down, a little defensive, and a little hurt. So I found a few inspirational and motivational quotes that will keep me and hopefully you aware that you are important, and you do make a difference-regardless of perceptions.

challenges-are-what-make-life-interesting-overcoming-them-is-what-makes-life-meaningful

no one knows what you have been through or what your pretty little eyes have seen but I can reassure you whatever you have conquered shines through your mind.png

the courage to live brings its own rewards.png

courage-is-the-first-of-human-qualities-because-it-is-the-quality-which-guarantees-all-others

the great thing in this world is not so much where you stand as in what direction you are moving.png

there is hope in dreams imaginagtion and in the courage of those who wish to make those dreams a reality.png

I am proud to be a military spouse and am not defined as so simply because of my husband’s profession, but because of the unique set of challenges I face, endure, and persevere through every day. So I can chuckle at the dependapotamus cracks and jokes, because I know it does not apply to me, and it doesn’t apply to you either. We’re not along for the ride, we’re driving our own car.

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Travel

NOLA Bound: 24 Hours in New Orleans

nola-bound_new-orleans-in-24-hoursYou guys! I LOVE New Orleans. Have you been? So much fun!

Before going to NOLA, as it is lovingly referred to by the cool crowd, I only pictured Bourbon Street, Boobs and Beads when thinking of New Orleans. But there is literally so much more to offer! Now don’t get me wrong, Bourbon St. is a good time, but I’m not really much of a partier, so I was good with walking up and down it one time and one night of having a few drinks. If you want to do it more-DO IT!, if you don’t, there’s tons of other places and things to do.

We headed off to New Orleans to return my brother in law to the airport after his brief, but fun visit. Being the bums that we are, we left later than we anticipated, but we were in New Orleans around 3pm to check into our hotel. Unfortunately and fortunately there were issues with our room at the Hotel Chateau and they moved us to their sister hotel Hotel Royal. Both of these establishments are boutique hotels and have beautiful courtyards. I’m a sucker for boutique hotels after working in one in Lewes, Delaware for over a year.

They also upgraded us to their top floor and a suite with a balcony. Some pictures from our room:

Once the room debacle was resolved we headed out to explore and grab some grub before our haunted walking tour around the French Quarter. Since we only had a short time here, we stayed in the French Quarter and all within walking distance of the hotel. I really wanted to get adventurous with my meal selection so I wanted to find somewhere to enjoy crawfish and alligator. We set out to Bourbon St.

Wait…wait.. What am I doing? Let’s process this in list form.

The top 5 things we did in NOLA in 24 hours:

  1. Cafe Du Monde– Beignets! Beignets, also known as heaven. We got beignets from Cafe Du Monde and they were amazing! They’re like if donuts and funnel cake had a baby. And they were so inexpensive! 3 beignets for like $2.63 or something like that! So many exclamation points! Because I’m that excited about beignets!cafedumonde
  2. Witches Brew Tours– We did a 4 in 1 tour by Witches Brew Tours, $20 bucks if you’re military or a student or $25 full price. Orrrrrrrrrrr, look on groupon and you can get an even better deal. Groupons have to be booked at least 48 hours in advance though, so plan accordingly. I loved walking around the French Quarter and getting to hear the TRUE stories of murders, torture, voodoo and more. There were so many groups walking around from different companies, so you have options, but I thought ours was really good! My favorite story was about Madam Lalaurie. Crazy stuff.img_7689
  3. Grubbing– We had dinner at a restaurant called Remoulade on Bourbon St. Very yummy. I got a sampler platter that had gumbo, a crawfish pie, and jambalaya. I didn’t get to sample any alligator like I wanted, but I still highly recommend. The next day we had breakfast at Ruby Slipper. There are a few of these throughout New Orleans and even one in Pensacola. Excellent breakfast. I had the eggs benedict and since I couldn’t decide between all the different delicious options I did a pick two. Let’s all appreciate some Nawlins food:

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  4. Voodoo Authentica– On our walking tour we learned a little bit about voodoo and I was hooked! If you don’t know much about voodoo, I highly recommend taking some time to learn more, it was such an interesting history and we were advised to make any purchases from the store Voodoo Authentic as it is owned by direct descendants of Marie Laveau. I’m super excited about the voodoo doll I purchased and one for my bestie to have at her home too. It’s not quite this large, but it’ll do. img_7693
  5. Music– There is literally music playing ALL THE TIME! Walking down any street and suddenly there’s a 2-6 piece band playing some great tunes on the sidewalk. You don’t HAVE to go to Bourbon St. So slow down, stop, listen, enjoy. Put your phone away. It’s called culture and it doesn’t live in social media. Believe me, I’m still struggling with getting away from social media, so I’m not judging. But there’s so much more out there! img_7691

I think one of the greatest ways we can combat intolerance is to travel. Experience lives and cultures outside of our own. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day to day stuff and always being surrounded by people who look like us, or talk like us, or have the exact same experiences as us. This is what breeds misunderstandings. The world is such a wondrous place and diversity is what makes it magnificent. Take a trip somewhere different this year. Get out of your comfort zone. Get out of your timezone. You don’t even have to go to a different country to experience a different culture. You’ll be surprised at how much you just might like it.

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Health

Top Foods to Eat for Weightloss

I absolutely adored our short trip to New Orleans last week. While traveling, I gave myself the privilege of being less strict on my diet and just enjoy my trip. Doing this did not come without consequences. I typically weigh in on Fridays but since we were traveling that day, I weighed in on Saturday and rather than losing any weight for the week, I ended up gaining .6 lbs. This is due to the lax on tracking my diet, and the numerous sweets and alcoholic drinks I allowed myself.

I’m not even mad about it! It’s not everyday that I have family visit, or that I travel to New Orleans, so I’m going to enjoy a could margaritas and beignets. Now the hard part is returning home and jumping back on the wagon. The first few days were a challenge. My appetite was higher than usual but I did my best to curb it through snacking on fruits and vegetables. On the bright side, my daily weigh ins reminded me I was making right choices and I could count on a loss for my official weigh in, and I met my goal of losing 4% of my weight in January for the dietbet I was participating in!

top-foods-to-eat-for-weight-lossTo be successful in losing weight I have found I follow a few staples in my diet that keep me satisfied because they are filling and tasty.

  1. Eggs– I eat eggs every. single. day. No I don’t have high cholesterol. No I never get sick of them. They can be made so many different ways! Scrambled, hard boiled, over easy, over medium, over hard, baked, poached… the list goes on and on.  If you follow weight watchers, one egg is 2 points so I personally prefer to take one egg and mix with 1/2 cup egg whites to make a 3pt wonder of scrambled eggs. Delicious. egg-hen-s-egg-boiled-egg-breakfast-egg-160850
  2. Quest Bars– I had a rocky start with quest bars. The first flavor I tried was cookies and cream and it was alright, but not anything to write home about. The second I had was white chocolate raspberry and it was gross. So gross. Now I powered on and fell in love with smores and double chocolate chunk. I’ve also discovered a warmed up quest bar is damn near heaven sent. I recently ordered a variety box of quest bars off amazon that had 18 different flavors. I haven’t tried them all yet, but some new favorites include banana nut muffin and blueberry muffin.img_7568
  3. Poultry– I don’t do red meat very often. Not because I don’t like it, but because poultry like chicken and turkey is a leaner meat with less fat and therefore healthier and easier for our bodies to digest. To make things easy on myself, I’ll cook a bulk amount of chicken on the weekend to help get me through the week. It can be used in lunches or dinners. I’ll use different toppings like bbq sauce, teriyaki sauce or other spices to give it variety. pexels-photo-262945
  4. Halo Top– I am such an ice cream addict. I’ve also become quite the chocaholic. combine the two and I’m weak in the knees. Thank goodness for Halo Top. Halo Top is a brand of ice cream that is becoming ever more popular which is a great thing, because that means it’s going to be available in more places. When I lived in Delaware it was NOWHERE. Now I can get it at the commissary or Publix in Florida. And word on the street is it’s available at costco now too. I love the chocolate and the mocha chip, and the lemon cake, and the strawberry, and the mint chip…actually there isn’t a flavor I’ve met that I didn’t like. Halo Top is love.16473835_1131420806984018_4418118659173994676_n
  5. Bananas and apples– I eat a banana every morning if I have one. And then I’ll have an apple or applesauce for a snack in between breakfast and lunch. They say you need to be careful with fruit because of the natural sugars, but this routine keeps me full, it’s tasty, and I tend to continue to lose weight steadily. banana-tropical-fruit-yellow-healthy-39566

So these are the food staples that work for me. What are some of your go-tos to keep you on track? If you don’t have any, feel free to test out some of mine!

Update on my current weightloss:

Week 4: I gained .6 lbs. Thanks Obama.

Week 5: I lost 2 lbs, bringing the total since Jan.3 to 9.8 lbs lost, and from my heaviest weight ever 46.6 lbs. Woohoo for getting back on track!

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