Travel

Texas Car Camping Part 3

I’ve fallen in love… and not with my husband.

I have found a new love in car camping and hiking. The simplicity of the experience and freedom it allows me is everything I didn’t know I was missing.

I told you how I prepared for my trip in my post Solo Car Camping. I told you about the first night in my post Texas Car Camping and my second day in my post Texas Car Camping Part Two. Now I’ll detail my third and final day of my weekend away.

As the sun began to rise Saturday morning I was feeling all sorts of things.

  1. I felt a stiffness in my shoulder that I wasn’t sure if it came from sleeping on it wrong or if it was from climbing in and out of the cave the previous day.
  2. I felt the four blisters on my right foot and the one on my left from hiking 13 miles in new shoes.
  3. I felt excited to move on to Enchanted Rock State Nature Area where I would hike to the summit of a massive pink granite dome.
  4. I felt a little gross and dirty from not showering for a few days. Thank goodness for dry shampoo and baby wipes.
  5. I felt disappointed this would be my last day of my adventure and I would have to return to work on Monday.

All of these feelings energized me for the day ahead. I hit the road by 7:45am to drive the 1.25 hours to my destination. I arrived 30 minutes after their opening time of 8:30 to this sight: About 50 cars lined up on the side of the road trying to enter the park. I underestimated the number of people who would be interested in hiking and this fantastic natural location so early in the morning. Watching every car briefly stop to talk to the park rangers lined up at the entrance only to either continue on down the road or u-turn and head in the opposite direction, I finally got to the front of the line. They already reached their max capacity for the morning, but I was offered a voucher that guaranteed admittance at 1pm when they reopened.

With a little over 3 hours to kill, I fortunately had many options to occupy my time before I would be able to return to the park. I decided to travel the 17 miles to Fredericksburg, TX. What a fantastic town! This destination is known for its German immigrant culture mixed with Texas pride. There are tons of shops, restaurants, wineries and entertainment to keep you occupied for days! The town was bursting with activity and tourists participating in egg hunts, shopping and sight seeing since it was Easter weekend.

I’m not really much for large crowds or spending money so I did some quick research and found a nearby wildflower farm that was free to visit. Sign me up! Wildseed Farms was perfect! You can’t help but admire all the Texas Bluebonnets lining the roads as you travel through Texas, and to have a location with acres of them growing in on place was absolutely gorgeous. They have a shop, winery, an event venue, cafe, and of course the fields. If you’re in the area, you really need to make it a priority to stop.

As the time drew closer to 1pm, it was time to head back to Enchanted Rock.

It was worth the wait.

My intentions were to hike to the top of the dome and then complete a loop around the base of the mountain as well. You can see the trail map here. The climb to the top was tough, but doable. My shoes gripped the granite easily and even a simple tennis shoe would probably do the trick. The views were breathtaking. Nature truly is amazing.

My feet and blisters were not happy though. I laid down and smiled through the pain.

After basking in the sun at the top, I finally decided to make my descent, skipping the longer hike I had planned and headed home.

I don’t think I could have had a better time on this trip. Everything exceeded my expectations. I know there were a few people concerned for my safety, but not once did I feel unsafe. Cold? Yes. But never, unsafe. I really need to get that sleeping bag for next time.

Travel

Texas Car Camping

My first adventure into solo camping was quite the experience. When I brought up the idea with friends and family, the majority of responses included:

  • That’s not safe!
  • Aren’t you scared?
  • Do you want to die?

I did get one:

  • I’m so excited for you, and jealous!

Now either I’m too naive or stupid to be scared of solo travel, or there’s nothing to be scared about. I guess time will be the judge of that conundrum!

You can read how I prepared for my trip here, but I’m so excited to share where I went in this post!

I started my trip right after work Thursday evening. As soon as I had my little chitlins(students) on the bus and I was free of responsibility, I filled my cooler of ice from our break room, jumped in my Toyota RAV4 and hit the highway. 4.5 hours later I reached my first destination where I would camp for the night. An amazing little (free!) campsite, Cedar Point Recreation Area, was the perfect spot to sleep for the night. This location is first come, first serve, so I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find a spot in one of their 9 campsites, but when I arrived at 8pm with the sun setting and deer frolicking in the fields on either side of the drive, only 3 of the 9 sites were claimed. I backed into site number 9, directly on Lake Buchanan, and started to set up camp as the camp host pulled up to write down my tag number and let me know about the rules of the campsites. This elderly gentleman was so kind and reminded me of my grandfather as he let me know not to try to drive around the speed bumps when I leave and if I planned on drinking to make sure I do it from a koozie. Reasonable requests in my eyes. And can you be mad about the view? Sunset from my campsite

I honestly cannot rave enough about this lucky find for my first night camping. They are grossly undercharging for their product, but don’t tell them that.

Some lessons learned from my first night:

  1. The temperature drops significantly at night in the spring in Texas. It was 90 during the day, 40 when I woke up.
  2. Leaving the windows down is a mistake if the temp is going to drop 50 degrees.
  3. One quilt is not enough to provide warmth if the temp is going to drop 50 degrees.
  4. Why didn’t you check the weather and temperatures you would encounter, knowing you would be camping?
  5. Add to shopping list: sleeping bag for cold temperatures.

This may have been my first time camping in my car, but it wasn’t my first time camping. Apparently I was so excited for adventure I forgot about common sense things like: it’s cold at night.

Any questions on my setup or experience?

More on day two coming soon!

Health

Simple Life, Happy Life

Less is more.

This popular saying is my mantra for 2018.

Five tips for a simpler, more satisfying life pinterest.png

I’ve spent so much time thinking and planning and trying to outdo myself in every aspect:

  • Having the perfect pinterest-worthy house
  • Making as much money as possible
  • Perfect body: thin, flawless skin

It’s so easy to get caught up in the rat race of life where nothing is ever good enough. There’s the belief that there’s always room for improvement, and nothing and no one is perfect. The danger of this mindset is that you will never be satisfied with anything you ever accomplish. Lost 2 lbs this week? You could’ve lost 3 or 4. Ran a mile? You could’ve done it faster. Made x-amount of money? You can make more if you do xyz. It’s a never ending cycle.

Yes, it is important to have goals and not be stagnant. It is also important to learn to appreciate what you do have. Gratitude, health, and happiness will contribute to a more fulfilling life than any of the material items, or non-essential milestones I or society sets before me. What does simplifying my life look like?Five purge tips to simplify life.png

  1. The Household Purge
    • I’ve moved twice in the last year, so I already downsized a lot of items just so I won’t have to move a bunch of stuff over and over again. Now that I have lived in one place for 9 months, I can identify even more items that I can get rid of. If it hasn’t served a purpose in the last 9 months, then there is no reason to continue hoarding it or bringing it to the next destination.
  2. The Clothing Purge
    • I’ve had a lot of the same clothes since high school. They’ve had a good run and I think it’s time to retire them. May they rest in peace.
  3. The Social Media Purge
    • I deleted the Facebook app off my phone. I have spent too much time mindlessy scrolling through my newsfeed. I unfollowed anyone on Instagram I don’t personally know. I’ve gone a month now with these drastic reductions in social media and it has been so refreshing. I honestly don’t miss any of it.
  4. The Career Purge
    • Work/life balance is crucial. Identify if what you are sacrificing is worth the reward. I’m having a hard time making any changes in this. I still want to make more money. I’m still actively pursuing ways to do this. I’m a work in progress.
  5. Body Expectations Purge
    • Yeah, I need to work on this too. I still want to be thinner, and my skin sucks. I can’t do it all at once. Baby steps. But learning to let go of certain expectations and not maintaining the thought that once I achieve certain things, only then will I be happy. I will purge myself of this behavior.

I am looking forward to continuing to implement these small adjustments to how I live my life. I’m turning 30 this year and one of the great things about getting older is really getting to know yourself and for me a simpler life is a happier life.

 

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Random Ramblings

Finding Identity and Purpose

My world was just rocked by Selena Gomez.

The humansofny instagram page shared a photo of her at the Met Gala and she was quoted,

“I feel like I’m just starting, but I think I’d be fine if it all went away. I get that from my mother. From the moment I started singing, she always reminded me that all of this was a privilege, and could be taken at any moment. So singing is not how I define myself. I try to keep my identity rooted in my friendships and my faith.”

This spoke volumes to me as I’ve struggled with my identity and sense of purpose so much over the last couple months. It’s gotten even more difficult the last couple weeks. I have built so much of my identity into my career and defining my success and myself off of how much I work, how much money I make, and how I am titled.

identity and purpose graphic.png

I need to change this dialogue. I am not my job title. I am not defined by how much money I make. I have a purpose and identity outside of that.

I took some time to read and reflect old blog posts, (well not that old since I have only been blogging for a few months)… I had so much passion and hope and truly connected with what writing was giving me. I need to explore that more. Because I am more.

So what defines me and my identity?

  1. Advocacy and helping others
    • At a recent interview, one of the questions they asked me was what motivates me. And honestly I thrive when I feel like the work I am doing has a purpose. I want to help others, I want to empower others. I want to leave my community, my world better than I found it.
    • It was easy to align this with my job with the Delaware Readiness Teams, and I was feeling like I needed a job that fulfilled this in the same way. I believe I will someday. But I believe I also do this through my writing. Not only here on my personal website, but also through the volunteer blogging I do for the Military Spouse Advocacy Network.
  2. Family
    • Family is not only defined by blood. I am incredibly lucky to be close with my brother, sister, my in-laws, my best friends, and my best friend’s immediate family as well. Oh and my husband. Him too.img_4122img_7189
  3. Values
    • I’ve spent the last few months really getting to know myself and confirming where I stand on issues, and my beliefs. I believe in being a good person. I believe in all people. And I hope I can be an advocate for those beliefs.
  4. Independence
    • I am a strong woman who don’t need no man.
    • Seriously though, even though I know I have people I can depend on, I take a lot of pride in knowing I can and do take care of problems myself. Everything from hanging pictures in my home, to cutting the grass, to fixing the vacuum, to absolutely anything. I firmly believe I can do just about anything.
  5. I don’t have a number 5.

How do you define yourself? If you lost one of those identifiers, would you feel lost? Without a clear and defined career, that’s exactly how I was feeling. But I’m glad I have had the opportunity to delve deeper and redefine myself. Thanks Selena Gomez. 

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Travel

Inspiration for the Wanderlusts

inspiration-for-the-wanderlusts

So far this year I have been able to cross off two destinations from my goal list. I’ll be traveling to a third destination next week. Travel is something I have loved pursuing since reaching adulthood and being able to afford trips to new and adventurous places foreign and domestic. But travel can be complicated and expensive which leads many people not doing it. I hope this isn’t you. I hope you get to see at least one new place a year. Even if it’s only a short drive from where you live. Travel is the good for the mind, body, and soul. To hold you over, or inspire your next trip, enjoy the following 25 images:

“WHERE TO NEXT?”8ecc224aad57e973ec238731143970ac

“IF IT SCARES YOU, IT MIGHT BE A GOOD THING TO TRY.”55f7c5ce1661a8a5ac74bb34b67065f6

“I WAS NOT BORN FOR ONE CORNER. THE WHOLE WORLD IS MY NATIVE LAND.”7bc85c129df00e4e8fee55188e1d9685

“TRAVEL FAR, DON’T LOOK BACK.”d6d5cd8e73441ddf518f55953fc43e14

“LIFE IS EITHER A DARING ADVENTURE OR NOTHING AT ALL.”fdae8f802b5b5e235636248babccfb5e

“I FINALLY FOUND THEM, AND I FOUND THEM TOGETHER NO LESS.”57d1803ba0eab0c47939b39414fdedde

“BETTER TO SEE SOMETHING ONCE THAN TO HEAR ABOUT IT A THOUSAND TIMES.”6164552c208c0f3675b097b2595936a9

“TRAVEL, AS MUCH AS YOU CAN, AS FAR AS YOU CAN, AS LONG AS YOU CAN. LIFE’S NOT MEANT TO BE LIVED IN ONE PLACE.”ad497a6d2b9868ef4515672ea3963a3f

“ONCE A YEAR, GO SOMEPLACE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN BEFORE”11d07b6285d7891cb8fc2c5f8004c88d

“YOU’LL NEVER KNOW UNTIL YOU GO.”202c3dca4bb1391e358f319b94bbcd3d

“I HAVE AN INSANE CALLING TO BE WHERE I’M NOT”8d9fb83d5da0749f0541290ef11b7cf1

“EVERYONE SHOULD BELIEVE IN SOMETHING. I BELIEVE I SHOULD GO TO THE BEACH.”b1c0802061c7438e3a75fca6a5b00613

“BUY THE TICKET, TAKE THE RIDE.”be73ed0867077375266b7ed3167fabc6

“WITH AGE, COMES WISDOM. WITH TRAVEL, COMES UNDERSTANDING.”9aabc580621e4191d183142ab5917ef6

“YOU MUST GO ON ADVENTURES TO FIND OUT WHERE YOU TRULY BELONG.”0ea990a5da2049f59d3d3dbd68a01b40

“TRAVEL MORE. BUY LESS.”7bd3bc321855481573a0e04afc797136

“DON’T BE THAT PERSON WHO IS TOO BUSY WHEN YOU ARE YOUNG AND THEN TOO TIRED WHEN YOU ARE OLD.”15558693c80d2e9c453a35eff043d120

“WORK HARD, TRAVEL HARDER.”098f10dfa44bced164b30500b5453128

“MY GOAL IS TO RUN OUT OF PAGES IN MY PASSPORT.”ca1f539211fcc419b72ef4487698f13d

“I’VE GOT BIG BIG PLANS.”0d08c09d417ad6315ec9f410508bde81-1

“NO REASON TO STAY, IS A GOOD REASON TO GO.”7aba52e1119b0eb58acf5b11ea910d29

“TRAVEL IS MY THERAPY”79c078a70c98736099f62505f0a5c99c-1

“TRAVEL DOES THE HEART GOOD.”3098f1bbaa31470c6fd648bf6752e30a

“VACATION CALORIES DON’T COUNT.”f2916eb62d5538b1817ea6bc34763014

“IT’S BAD MANNERS TO KEEP A VACATION WAITING”a31efd6f516a93588ba1de20b8a29bfc

Feel inspired? Where to now?

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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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Random Ramblings

Women’s March Brings Unity, Passion, Inspiration, and…. Confusion? Part 2

 

womens-march-brings-unity-passion-inspiration-and-confusion-part-2Now I remember why I never post about politics. It is exhausting. I was very nervous writing about the Women’s March. I was nervous because I know a lot of conservative and/or republican people, and I thought my views on the march might not be well received. I was pleasantly surprised. While I’m not sure how many of my right-leaning friends actually took the time to read what I wrote, no one belittled or wrote anything negative either. I also participated in a pretty extensive conversation on another friend’s Facebook status with a stranger as to why I walked in the march. Despite having different opinions on certain topics and disagreeing about certain issues, the long conversation remained respectful. Even though I was not attacked or experienced any backlash for participating in the march, my brain is still tired from explaining and justifying my stance on particular issues.

But I will carry on and continue to share my perspective because I am proud of being part of such a large and incredible movement and have been inspired to be more involved advocating for the issues I believe in for myself and for those who cannot, and to educate myself on the issues I do not understand or have never taken the time to research in the past so I can form an opinion of my own.

One point that has come across from various people on why they do not believe in the march or do not feel it was impactful was the broad number of topics being advocated for. I’ve heard that it made people feel like all those women out there couldn’t unify under one front and instead are just, “all over the place”. Well, the fact that there are so many different issues which need to be marched for should speak volumes itself, but the purpose of the march was to bring a collective voice to all of the different topics to serve as a platform over the upcoming months. Now that America and legislators have hopefully opened their eyes to the concerns of millions of Americans, more emphasis and targeted tactics can be taken to continue the work and progress.

In my first post about the march, which you can read here, I wrote about reproductive rights. This round I will be highlighting worker’s rights. You’ve heard it before, the wage gap. It is undeniable that women make less than men and advocates and women around the world are asking for equal pay for equal work. Below is a chart from the Bureau of Labor statistics for 2015. screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-6-20-30-pm

In case you can’t tell, the women’s earnings are lower than the men’s earnings. An even more disturbing chart is when we start looking at gender and race. Take a look:screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-6-21-08-pm

You would think this information would speak for itself and not require further explanation on why this data is alarming, but there are many people who are still in disbelief or deny that this is a problem. I have personally experienced being in the same position as a man with the same qualifications, skills, and arguably a better work ethic and still made a lower wage. I have also been witness to a male getting preferential treatment in the workplace with a promotion over a female despite having just returned from a suspension for behavior issues. Have you ever been exposed to the “humor” of a woman “getting her knees dirty” to earn a position of leadership? This direct undermining of women is a systemic problem across our nation and it is not remedied by sucking it up and working harder. These are all very real circumstances women face today and the concern with the current government is there is no address to this topic as a top issue. The current administration plans to “bring back jobs and growth” without a single mention of equality. In fact, equality is not listed anywhere on the current White House dot gov website and the presidential cabinet is currently only slated to have four women.

Maybe you still do not think women in America are experiencing oppression or inequality. “Try being a woman in the Middle East and have to wear a burka or not even be able to drive” is one argument I have heard. And yes, there are women in much more horrendous situations than the average American woman. But just because there are others in worse situations, does not mean we cannot fight and insist on a better situation for ourselves.

So perhaps equality in the workplace is not a top priority for you so you’ll roll your eyes and say there are bigger problems at hand. And that is certainly your right to believe so. But to dismiss others making this their priority is unfair.

I came across this article that put into words what I have not been able to. This is an excerpt, but you can read the full article here.

The United States ranks at 45 for women’s equality. Behind Rwanda, Cuba, Philippines, Jamaica.

But I get it. You don’t want to admit it. You don’t want to be a victim. You think feminism is a dirty word. You think it’s not classy to fight for equality. You hate the word pussy. Unless of course you use it to call a man who isn’t up to your standard of manhood. You know the type of man that “allows” “his” woman to do whatever she damn well pleases. I get it. You believe feminists are emotional, irrational, unreasonable. Why aren’t women just satisfied with their lives, right? You get what you get and you don’t get upset, right?

I get it. You want to feel empowered. You don’t want to believe you’re oppressed. Because that would mean you are indeed a “second-class citizen.” You don’t want to feel like one. I get it. But don’t worry. I will walk for you. I will walk for your daughter. And your daughter’s daughter. And maybe you will still believe the world did not change. You will believe you’ve always had the rights you have today. And that’s okay. Because women who actually care and support other women don’t care what you think about them. They care about their future and the future of the women who come after them.

~ Dina Leygerman, 2017

Over 500,000 people were in attendance in Washington, D.C, 750,000 in L.A., 250,000 in NYC, 250,000 in Chicago, 150,000 in Denver, 130,000 in Seattle, 150,000 in Boston, 2,000 in Pensacola, 3,000 in Charleston, 40,000 in Austin, 10,000 in St. Louis, 100,000 in Portland, 7,000 in Palm Beach, 100,000 in London, 60,000 in Toronto, 10,000 in Sydney. Over 670 marches took place world wide. This wasn’t about women whining or making much ado about nothing. If you don’t understand why women are marching, maybe you haven’t been listening. if-you-dont-understand-why-women-are-marching-maybe-you-havent-been-listening

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Military

The Five Stages of Grief…aka Becoming the New Military Spouse

the-five-stages-of-grief-aka-becoming-the-new-military-spouseWhether you are marrying your significant other who is already in the military or you’re already married and they are now enlisting or commissioning, many spouses undergo a cycle of emotions when becoming a new military spouse. These stages may look familiar as the stages of grief, but they 100% apply to this life changing moment as well. Pour yourself a cup of tea or some Irish coffee and enjoy:

  1. Denial– It’s not going to be that bad. My spouse won’t be gone ALL the time. Our lives won’t be SO different from what they were when we were civilians. Oh sweet, naive you. This is the first part of the cycle when you have your rose-colored glasses on and haven’t received your own set of battle wounds yet. Now don’t get me wrong, the reality isn’t the complete opposite of what you think it’s going to be like, it’s much more in the middle, well…. maybe leaning a little bit more to the right. Truth is  your life is going to be completely different from when you were a civilian, and no your spouse won’t be gone ALL the time, but they will be absent pretty frequently -some more than others, depending on their job- and no it won’t be that bad. It’s not going to be all candy and flowers, but it will certainly be an adventure so buckle up for the ride.thisisfinecomicthumbnail1-630x227
  2. Anger– Oh will there be anger. You’ll be mad at your spouse. You’ll be mad at the situation. You may be mad at the military or the government. You’ll be mad at yourself for being mad. You’ll be mad because you can’t make any concrete plans. You’ll be mad because Sally’s spouse called her or sent her flowers and you didn’t. You’ll be mad because people ask the same questions over and over again. You’ll be mad because you feel guilty for being mad. You have a right to be mad. Don’t be ashamed of your anger. Just don’t stay there.94b77afc279bec32413ccc62976004815ed0665d82e88e4892097a043fb6d025
  3. Bargaining– You’ll make deals with yourself or with your God about if you get to talk or see your spouse you’ll be ever so good. You’ll be the best spouse ever when they get home. You won’t take your time together for granted. You’ll bargain with family, you won’t be home for the holidays this year but maybe next year. Or what if they come to you instead? No? Don’t be surprised when they can’t or won’t come. You’ll take a job below your skill or education level because sometimes you have to take what you can get. You’ll watch the neighbors kids this weekend if they’ll watch yours next for a date night with your significant other. Get your bargaining chips ready, there’s a lot to barter for in the military life.nzox5nl-jpg
  4. Depression– You’ll want to be alone. You’ll want to not do anything even though they say, “Keep Busy!!”. This is like the anger stage. You have a right to be depressed. Don’t be ashamed of your sadness. Just don’t stay there. tumblr_n7mcyauebg1t7gtxto1_250
  5. Acceptance– You’ll start to get the hang of things. You’ll get into a routine. You’ll make a few friends. You’ll be able to find everything you need in the grocery store, and even get to the grocery store without a GPS. You’ll start speaking the military lingo using all those acronyms and your civilian friends and family are going to need you to translate. And then you’ll PCS and even though it won’t be as hard as the first time, you’ll hit up some of these stages again. 348baa9ffbfdd7791f63c2bf2632b234

The stages of grief do not move in a cycle like they are frequently pictured, and neither are the stages of being a new military spouse. It is much more organic than that. You’ll bounce from one stage to another and back again, you may skip a cycle and think you’re in acceptance, only to go “back” again. It’s all normal and it’s all part of the adventure! Because you’re not only going to feel these emotions, you’ll also feel extreme moments of happiness, joy, excitement, support, purpose, and love. Those are the ones that make it worth it.

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Random Ramblings

Women’s March Brings Unity, Passion, Inspiration, and…. Confusion? Part 1

womens-march-brings-unity-passion-inspiration-and-confusionHeads up, this post will not be full of laughable memes or silly humor. Hopefully it won’t be boring either, so please press on.

January 20, 2017 marked a day in history. Inauguration day is historical and notable for the United States of America for our government to commemorate the peaceful exchange of power. So on this day Donald Trump officially became the 45th President of the United States of America. This day was celebrated by millions and for many others also induced a great deal of fear, panic, and alarm. I am not writing to bash President Trump. So if you think that is where I am headed, you will be disappointed, or perhaps pleased, depending on where you stand politically.

Now fast forward to January 21, 2017 and this day will also be noted in the history books. It will be noted because millions of men, women and children participated in a world wide March. It began with the Women’s March on Washington which quickly expanded to include hundreds of other sister marches in other cities around the globe. Not just country. On every. single. continent.

I’ve seen a number of posts on social media of men and women confused about why so many people participated in such an event. So I thought I could maybe share a little input to hopefully bring some clarity to those who don’t understand. First of all, this was not solely a protest against President Trump. Were there people in attendance who were there to protest President Trump? Yes, however, this march was bigger than that. This was to bring a collective voice around issues regarding reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, ending violence, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, and environmental rights. Now you may be thinking that’s a very wide spectrum and you’re absolutely right, but each topic deserved to be highlighted and I’ll break it down over a series of posts,

Read Women’s March Brings Unity, Passion, Inspiration, and… Confusion? Part 2

and you can read more at the Women’s March website. I know our attention spans are limited and I don’t want you to lose interest to go look at a cat video instead, no matter how worthy and cute that cat is of your attention.

Let’s start with reproductive rights. No this is not only about abortion. Reproductive rights also include access to contraception, health screenings, STD care and prevention, and sexual education. So there is the argument that we have access to all of this and while we can debate how one defines “access”, for arguments sake, let’s agree. However, current legislation threatens the continued equal access to contraception of the woman’s choice. Let’s get personal. I have made the choice for myself and my body to not have children. To ensure this does not happen I have elected to have an IUD as my method of birth control. I chose this for multiple reasons, but the biggest reasons were it’s long-term effects (5 years) and the high percentage of effectiveness. Now this is an expensive method of birth control, but under current legislation my health insurance is required to cover it at no out of pocket cost to me. This opportunity is threatened for me now because should certain legislation be passed, my health insurance, or your health insurance could elect to not cover contraception and then the burden is placed on us to pay for the expense. I can afford to do so, and I will if it comes to it, but there are many women who cannot shoulder this burden to ensure they do not get pregnant until they are ready.

You may be prepared to argue that women can get birth control pills or condoms for free even if legislation changes and these other contraceptive options are no longer covered. But these methods are not as effective as an IUD, and they may not be a feasible option for every woman, there are allergies, health side effects and discomfort that could be taken into consideration. Many unplanned pregnancies occur when these are the only methods available. I am not saying every woman who does not wish to get pregnant should have an IUD, however, I think every woman should have the CHOICE to select the method that is best for her and her body regardless of cost.

Why is this important? Many reasons. I do not expect to get everything for free; however, let’s look at this from an economical standpoint. More unplanned pregnancies= more unplanned children. And we do not live in a perfect society, so many of these children then experience growing up in poverty, receive a poor education and do not even have their basic needs met of food, shelter and feeling safe. Many experience a life of violence, criminal behavior, and repeat the cycle for themselves. Does this happen all the time? No. But if it could be avoided simply by offering women the choice of contraception, why not advocate for it? Many Americans complain about the number of families living off of government assistance, well let’s offer a way for women to prevent starting families prior to them being ready and that may alleviate some of the burden.

Still not convinced? By preventing unwanted pregnancies we are also preventing unwanted abortions. This should be a huge incentive for pro-life advocates. This can only be done through equal and unobstructed access to a variety of contraception options.

Now let’s briefly address the big bad wolf of Planned Parenthood. This is a hot topic for many. Many believe Planned Parenthood should not receive any federal funding because they offer the service of abortions. Planned Parenthood does much more than abortions, they also offer numerous health screenings, STD testing, prevention, and care, counseling and contraception. There are not many options out there for abortion, so Planned Parenthood does the bulk of this service for women. Think of it as if Planned Parenthood is a cable provider. And they are the only ones in your area who provide internet service. So you buy your internet, cable and phone from them. Your neighbor doesn’t need internet, so they just get their cable from them. They don’t insist the company should be shut down because they don’t need internet. Comparing internet providers to abortion may seem like a stretch, but my point is that Planned Parenthood gets a bad rap because they offer abortions, but reproductive rights is more than just being pro-choice or pro-life. I’m not here to change your mind about Planned Parenthood, that is a mountain I do not even want to attempt to climb.

Try to be a bit more open-minded. I focused heavily on contraception in this post because that is the area that is mostly under attack and what seems to be difficult for many to understand. But just like parents would like to have their choice to get pregnant and raise their child covered by their health insurance, those who are not ready or will ever choose to have child, would like their health options to be covered as well. I would like to make everyone a little more aware of why reproductive rights are important and that they are indeed at risk. Think of this march as if it were the military. We do not wait for an attack to build up or organize an army. We are proactive because a great offense is the best defense.

Over 500,000 people were in attendance in Washington, D.C, 750,000 in L.A., 250,000 in NYC, 250,000 in Chicago, 150,000 in Denver, 130,000 in Seattle, 150,000 in Boston, 2,000 in Pensacola, 3,000 in Charleston, 40,000 in Austin, 10,000 in St. Louis, 100,000 in Portland, 7,000 in Palm Beach, 100,000 in London, 60,000 in Toronto, 10,000 in Sydney. Over 670 marches took place world wide. This wasn’t about women whining or making much ado about nothing. If you don’t understand why women are marching, maybe you haven’t been listening. if-you-dont-understand-why-women-are-marching-maybe-you-havent-been-listening

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Health · Military · Random Ramblings · Travel

Not your Typical Millennial: Choosing to be Intentional

courtesy-of-6Twenty-eight years. I’ve spent twenty eight years and some months becoming the person I am today. It’s funny how I have always thought I had my life together. I’ve had to be an adult for as long as I can remember. I started working (on the sly) when I was 11 at a convenience store my mom managed. I didn’t get paid, but she still got in some trouble for that when the supervisor found out. Fast forward to my first legit job at 14 working at McDonalds. I’ve worked for Dominos, Claire’s Accessories, back to McDonalds where I became a shift manager, multiple banks, multiple schools, and even running my own little business selling desserts. All throughout high school and college I worked full-time, and at one point I was doing school full-time, work full-time, and a part-time job.twitter-work-work-work-ahafgeidbdveisnaidhbejdisb-work-work-573277

I have a habit of trying to stay just under being overwhelmed. Which is why I was shocked when I was faced with the brutal truth that I’m considered to be part of the millennial generation, and I. was. appalled. Every time you hear about millennials it’s made out to be synonymous with entitled, lazy, overly sensitive children. So I was very distraught to be lumped into that category. And it didn’t really make sense to me. I’m not anything special. A majority of the people I know my age are very hard workers, and like me, have worked or do work multiple jobs. I think we should split up this millennial category a bit. Because I get around a younger 20 something and I don’t feel many similarities between our two upbringings or lifestyles. But that’s neither here nor there.courtesy-of-7

My point is, I’ve always felt very put together and like I had my shit on track. But something has happened the last couple months since turning twenty eight. I’ve started to really feel more clarity in who I am as a person, my values, what I stand for and believe in, who I want to be and where I want to go. And it makes me realize that younger me was just basically playing life and going through the motions. I was getting a college degree because I wanted to make a liveable wage, I wanted to feel accomplished and successful. I did what felt right at the time. I was getting a degree to be a teacher. And at the time it felt right, or at least I thought it did. Maybe getting a business degree or a journalism degree would’ve felt right too. I probably should have explored my options more because now I have a three degrees and three teaching certifications and have no interest in entering a classroom again. Buuuuutttt I have those pretty student loans to remind me that I paid a lot of money for a piece of paper with my name and and a sticker on it. Hmmmm. Maybe I am a millennial.

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I make it rain on my loan holders.

One degree wasn’t enough though, because even when I started teaching and I thought, maybe I don’t want to teach forever, I continued on to get my master’s degree in school counseling. And my how those student loans very quickly skyrocketed when paying for master’s levels courses. But I didn’t think about it, because I wanted that larger, more impressive piece of paper. And now I have it! And it’s framed, and sitting in a box right now, because I refuse to fully decorate a house I will only be living in for a few months. And I also don’t think it’s fair, or wise, or probably even realistic to find a job as a school counselor when I’ll be moving in a few months.

Even if we weren’t going to be moving soon, I still feel I’ve found a better connection with writing. And while doing research for a few posts this week, I came across another blogger who wrote about being intentional with her use of social media this year. And it really spoke to me, because I feel like intentional is exactly how I see myself now. I don’t want to just go through the motions, I don’t want to survive through the week to live on the weekends. I want to be intentional in a variety of aspects throughout my life. So what does intentional look like for me now?

  1. Career– I’ve always been very job-oriented, and career-driven. And I don’t necessarily want to change that, but I’m definitely pursuing it in a different way. I have this obsession with finishing things that I start. And I think that’s why I have a masters in education. I started my degree in education and by golly I was going to go all the way come hell or high water! And I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to be intentional with my career choices that fulfill me professionally, personally, and can make an impact in others. And while the idealist me would like to say-no matter what the compensation is, the realist me says-you’ve got bills to pay (thanks student loans). So I need to make a way for this writing gig to pay. Writing has connected with me in a way that teaching never will, so my pursuit from here will be taking my writing and finding a way to pay the bills with it. Intentionally step out of my comfort zone of banking, or teaching, or school counseling and truly set my sights on what I want to do. Oh fuck, it’s intimidating. Eh, I swear too much to be surrounded by kids anyways. f6e57fd72fcbf51feff9e60fe0d95184
  2. Social Media– I check social media a god awful amount. Sometimes I feel like my eyes are crossing from staring at a tiny screen. Anyone else scroll through their newsfeed until they have seen every new post, just to refresh so you can see the new ones that rolled in while you were scrolling? I’m going to be much more intentional with my social media usage going forward. Not to cast a dark shadow on the big bad demon of social media, it’s just, I can probably be doing something much more productive with my time. So I’m going to limit my social media usage to two times a day, with a time limit on how long I’ll be catching up. To make this work, I’m going to get rid of all those useless pages I currently follow- Do I really need to like Walmart’s page, or Dominos? No. So this way I truly can focus on staying connected with family and friends. courtesy-of-8
  3. Diet and Exercise– So I started this at the beginning of the year and I’m going to continue it, because even after only two weeks of healthy eating and exercise, I already feel a thousand times better! I’m going to be intentional about what I am eating. In case you didn’t know processed food is crap and really bad for you. So let’s try to stick to lean meats, fruits and vegetables as best as we can, k? K. And exercise. I’m finally getting my exercise regimen into a schedule that works for me. I’ll be sharing more about it on Friday’s post. 0e7c931b14166d183ec643e942a37914
  4. Free time– This is something I need to work on. I want to be more intentional with how I spend my free time. It ties in with the social media piece though. Currently all my free time is spent scrolling through Facebook or Instagram; however, with limiting my time with these apps, I’m going to finally allow myself the time to do some of the things I tell the strangers I do. You know how your dentist or someone will ask you what are your hobbies or what do you like to do? Normally I have no idea how to answer this, because who has hobbies anymore? It’s sad. I’ve gotten so tied to my phone, I’m such a liar when I finally spew out reading or knitting or some other super cool hobby that I have. Oh you don’t think knitting is cool? Psh. Wrong. But I haven’t knitted in probably years! So bye bye Facebook, and hello knitting needles! Or the books that just became available from the library on my kindle. Or how about all that traveling I claim I want to do? Let’s do that instead! So sorry Netflix, but I’m about to get all bookish and artsy AF. tumblr_ndannigsdv1qcy5a2o1_5001
  5. Marriage– My husband is about to become super busy with flight school, but right now we have some down-time while he waits to class up for part of his training. So rather than scrolling through Facebook, I’m going to instead be intentional with spending time with him while I can, doing all the things we both love, him outdoorsy stuff, me traveling and experiences. We cute.untitled-2524

This ended up being a longer post than I originally intended. And it almost feels like all those New Years Resolutions people set. New Year, New Me! Hopefully you’re still with me. Of course you are! If you weren’t you’d miss out on this awesome picture of my cat:img_7282

But seriously, intentional. Intentionality. Intentionalism. Let’s be a little bit more purposeful about how we choose to spend our time. Do you feel like you’re just going through the motions?

“Do not stay in a mistake because you’ve spent a lot of time or money making it.”

I’ll say it again:courtesy-of-9

And if you find yourself hitting your late twenties, or thirties and you realize you don’t want the same things you did when you were 18 or 20. Don’t be afraid to change. Yes it’s important to be responsible, I’m not saying drop the ball on your family and stop paying your bills. But don’t be afraid to change because it will be hard. Fuck yeah it’ll be hard. That’s what makes it worth it.

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