Nomadic Wanderings

I wrote this essay back in Kansas right before we moved to Kentucky and then picked it back up after living in Kentucky for 8 months.

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Moving season is upon us nomads (aka military) once again. I see it everywhere I turn, Facebook posts from friends, moving vans parked along the sidewalks, discussions at the bus stop on where the next duty assignment is. Some of these folks are going to really cool places like Germany, or Italy, and then there are others like myself going to places like Kentucky.

Military life is nomadic. Home is home for only a short while. That’s why as a military wife, one must move fast to make friends, make a home, and get involved. Because in the blink of an eye it’s time to pack up and start the process all over again.

So many non military folks tell me all the time, “I could never move all the time like you do.”  I get where they are coming from. I stayed in the same area for 24 years before becoming a nomad. I understand the comfort and joys of living near family and friends. I long for that at times. But had I never joined this nomadic lifestyle, I would have missed out on so many adventures and relationships along the way. Some of those adventures and relationships I could have done without. But at the end of the day, they were growing experiences.

It’s especially hard moving when you aren’t ready to go. My heart still breaks almost every day for having left Utah because I left my family behind, and Alaska because I left my heart behind. I know nothing will ever replace either place.

Moving to Kentucky or Kansas were not on my top choices of places to live, in fact, I hate to admit this but I didn’t know where either one was on the map. The reason is because I never cared to know where they were. I never planned on visiting let alone living in either place. I guess I’m learning some geography along the way. Kansas was a pleasant surprise for me. Although the landscape is nothing like what Alaska has to offer, it had been a positive experience. I had time to relax, reflect, and be a better mom, and wife. Also I met some great friends.

I think the best part of moving every 1-3 years is I get a chance to reinvent myself. If I don’t like the direction I’m heading, no problem, I can be a new me all over again. In Alaska, I was career oriented, I was a clinical manager and guess what? I was so stressed I couldn’t ever sleep and I missed out on being available to my children. So when we moved I decided I was done with climbing the career ladder and went to work part time. And it was been the best of both worlds.

People outside of the nomadic lifestyle often say they couldn’t constantly uproot their kids from friends.  I totally understand that aspect, especially as we enter the teen years. I worry constantly how my almost 13 year old will adjust to the next move. But, one thing is normal for him, and that is moving. I truly believe military kids are extremely resilient. Roots aren’t holding them back from exploring places and life. Nick used to tell me that he would encourage Jake to go to college wherever he wanted. At first I couldn’t imagine living apart from my children. But now, as much as I would hate them to be apart, I understand that in order to really understand our world, you must try different things, live in different places, explore the big wide world. I’ve made a decision that when the time comes, I will cut the apron strings so they can experience life to the fullest.

The hardest part about moving all the time is making the most amazing friends and leaving them. That part hurts like hell. It’s leaving a piece of your heart in each place. And it really doesn’t get easier.

Some places are great, and some are not so great. We currently live in Kentucky and this has been the hardest adjustment for all of us. I need to remind myself this is temporary. And most importantly I need to find a way to embrace it. As a family, we need to make the best of it because that’s what military families do.

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Goodbyes

Goodbyes

Saturday, May 31, 2014

7:24 AM
 

I hate goodbyes. I should be a professional at them by now as we have had to say goodbye so many times over the years. But it really doesn’t get easier with time. I’m not better at it now than I was the first time we moved. It still hurts to say goodbye to people I like who I know I most likely won’t see again.
 

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had to begin saying our goodbyes. First to my previous co-workers, and yesterday to Anna’s preschool class. I’ve discovered there are many unique and different ways of saying goodbye. Here are some of the most common I’ve found.

 
 

  1. The Goodbye Party: This usually is for the work environment. The last two places I’ve worked they have thrown a potluck to say goodbye and good luck. I have a hard time with this as I don’t feel deserving of a party and don’t like all the attention. Not to mention when everyone is gathered together, I feel the weight of loss and sadness over those who I have seen on a daily basis that I will no longer see. I make promises to keep in touch in most cases and if they are on Facebook, I will, but it still stings when I walk out the door for the last time.
  2. The Promise Goodbye: This is where goodbye is much too hard to say, so instead we make a promise to get together before leaving. I always hope we will be able to fulfill this promise, but then life happens we get busy with getting ready for the move, time passes, etc and before we know it, we are pulling out of our driveway for the last time, and never got that one last lunch. Maybe this is for the better though, as we don’t have to actually say ‘goodbye’.
  3. The Promise Visit: This is where we vow to see each other again. Someone promises to visit me, or I promise to visit them. I hate this one most of all, because most of the time, those visits don’t happen, I know this, and perhaps they know this as well, but we have to hold on to hope. In some cases, they do happen, this is a true test to the relationship. And I’m happy to report that I have quite a few friends who have fulfilled this promise. I hope to also have time in my future to be able to do the visiting as opposed to having them always have to come see me. I wish I had more time and money so I could visit all those who I’ve made this promise with
  4. Promise to Keep in Touch: About 75% of the time when we promise to keep in touch we do. I am thankful for Facebook as I have been able to keep in touch with some great friends. There are also some special friends I keep in touch with through snail mail, actual visits, Skype, phone calls, texts, e-mails. All of my greatest friends I have are long distance friendships. We may not talk every day, every week, every month, even every year, but I know we can pick up where we left off.
  5. The Quick Goodbye: This is where we just say goodbye, good luck to you and know we won’t keep in touch so don’t make any false promises. One would think this is reserved for people I don’t particularly care for, but it’s not, it’s for those who don’t like goodbyes. We keep it simple, we say goodbye and move on. Still leaves me feeling a bit sad. This happened at Anna’s preschool. We said goodbye quickly and left.
  6. The Denial Goodbye: We don’t say goodbye. Maybe because we can’t. I don’t know.
  7. The Sad Goodbye: Tears are shed, not just at the goodbye, but whenever we think about it. We miss each other so much it hurts whenever we think about it. We never get over these goodbyes, they are carved in our hearts forever. All we can do is keep in touch and look forward to our next visit.

 
 

I don’t like goodbyes, but I am glad they are still hard even after all these years, and all these moves because the day it is easy to leave a place, is a day I have become callous and no longer care.

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Time Marches On

Wow, hard to believe fall is already here! To say I’m not ready for what happens after fall (winter) would be an understatement. In fact, I’ve spent the entire past week in denial of the changing of seasons. Not just the literal changing season, but also the metaphorical changing season. Lazy days of summer are officially over. Not that they ever felt lazy; I pretty much ran around all summer long without a day of rest in between.  This is why I’m having such a hard time adjusting to knowing life is going to pick up a few paces.

 As the leaves change color and the weather cools, a new school year starts as well. A new season in the life of my family. The new season began for Nick as soon as he went back to work. But I don’t really consider the new season for me starting until yesterday.

Jake started 6th grade yesterday, and although I wasn’t ready for this, I realized that I had to get on board because it was happening unless I decided to home school. Homeschooling never really was an option as I am no good at 6th grade math.  Not to mention both my kids are very social creatures and prefer to be around other kids rather than their less than social mother who needs two cups of coffee before she can even say hello to anyone.  

One of the biggest reasons I wasn’t ready for summer to end (besides the cold) is because I wasn’t ready for the hustle and bustle of the new school year schedule. Also,  it means my tiny baby boy is growing up. 6th grade! How on earth did that happen so fast? And finally, this means it’s time for me to get into a routine and schedule as well. No more going with the flow, it’s time for structure.

I am happy to report that after a full day at home without Jake, I did get a bit bored, and realized it was time for me to embrace this new season rather than balk at it. This new season will include me finding a job which is something I have been less than excited to do. I miss making my own money, and I miss some aspects of working, but I really do NOT miss the stress.  Knowing that it’s officially time to hunker down and really start looking for a job has been hard to accept. Also, when I start working, Anna will have to go to day care/preschool.  She went before and absolutely loved it, but I’m having a hard time cutting the apron strings over on my end this go round. I’m clinging to those apron strings with dear life, Anna’s and Jake’s. And last but not least, this new season will include shuttling Jake back and forth with various activities. I really should enter Anna into some extracurricular activities as well. But for now, I simply can’t because I refuse to spend every night of the week running around. I would much rather have the 4 of us sit around at dinner time together discussing our crazy days.

Yesterday, I learned that time marches on and seasons change regardless of if I’m ready or not.  I really can sit at home and refuse to accept this fact, or I can get out and start the insanity all over again. After some much needed rest, I’m ready for the latter. Bring on the fall! But let’s not enter winter just yet, let’s sit back and enjoy the slow change of weather, and watch the leaves slowly turn color and fall.  My goal this fall is to notice the leaves changing color. This translates to slowing down in the midst of the hustle and bustle for calmness in chaos.

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Embracing Insanity

One month until our Alaska adventure begins. One month until I trade in this life, and begin a new life. One month left of my amazing home, friends, and job.

I continue to get asked if we are crazy for choosing to go to Alaska. At first it really pissed me off when people asked that. But now, I realize there are 2 types of people in this world, 1) those who are crazy and 2) those who are not crazy. Instead of thinking I belong to category 2 (not crazy), I now realize and embrace that I actually belong to category 1 (am crazy). Since I’ve realized, accepted, and embraced this, my life is now all the better. Especially when I meet fellow category 1 folks. These folks don’t ask if I’m crazy but instead say, “Wow, what an adventure.” Those that say that are usually fellow people who also like adventure, or at least understand it. I want to hug them and tell them I love them when they say nice comments about moving to Alaska. But I usually am good about restraining myself from doing that. The funniest thing about the category 2 folks (the not crazies) who ask if we are crazy for moving to Alaska have usually not even been there, and who for sure have never lived there. Those that have lived there always say something like, “Right on”, “Awesome” or “I wish I could go back, I love it there.” Those who have never been always tell me how cold it is. Really? It’s cold in Alaska? Who would have ever thought Alaska would be cold? Also those who think we are crazy for going to Alaska have usually lived in the same city for their entire lives. I’m not knocking on that at all as I grew up in the same city for 24 years before I left. I get it. It’s nice to have roots. I miss my roots. But it’s also nice to see new things, experience things most people will never get to experience such as air so cold in the winter it hurts to breathe. Who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want to see how fast you can get frost bite on your nose? Who sounds crazy now?

This last month is all about tying up loose ends, and preparing for departure. There is a lot of work that goes into moving over 2000 miles away. Luckily, I’ve married a man who is willing to do ALL the said work so that I can focus on doing what I do best, which is not doing the said work mentioned above. In order to prepare for our new life, we have purchased a bigger stronger truck, a camper, and a trailer for our 4 wheelers. Never mind we don’t have 4 wheelers yet, but when we do, we will have a trailer ready for them. We have rented out our house; found a house on post in Alaska; and mapped out our trip to get there. We have done so much to get ready for this (we being Nick), and yet there is so much left to do. We still need to pack up our most prized possessions (kids not included) and get ready to make a once in a lifetime journey. When I first learned we were moving to Alaska, I went into denial a bit, then there was a time where I felt sad for all I was leaving behind, but finally I have reached not only acceptance, but excitement. I’m moving to Alaska!!!! Who ever gets to say that? Only crazy people right? Well hello, I’m crazy people!!! So is Nick, Jake, and Anna by virtue of being our offspring.

Washington, it’s been real, it’s been fun. I will miss many things about you dear Washington! And hope you feel the same about me. It’s now time to embrace my craziness. Alaska here we come (in a month)!!!

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We’re Never Gonna Survive Unless We Get a Little Crazy

I’m not even a Seal fan, yet I find myself singing this tune day in and day out. It would only be better if I was in a padded room in a straight jacket.

Life is crazy! That’s a fact for all of us. My life is no crazier than your life. I’m sure you could spin me a crazy tale or two from your own life. So I’m not here to preach about how crazy my life is compared to yours. I’m here today to tell you that right now, my life feels really crazy. And guess what? For the most of it, it’s all been self chosen, that’s the really crazy thing. We were comfortable, cozy, and living quite a ‘normal’ life by most people’s standards. You know what I mean by normal right? 2.5 kids, 2 cars, house, 2 steady jobs, quiet neighborhood, nice neighbors, etc. Life has been pretty normal for the last 3 years. Well at least for almost 2 years it has been; let’s not forget there was a deployment the first year we moved here.

Most of the craziness in my life is self chosen. I’ve not been one to contemplate major life decisions carefully, neither is Nick. We come up with an idea and go with it. For instance, marriage. We didn’t even know each other, had dated only a few short times, he even lived in another state, and 8 months later, we get married! At the ripe old age of 21 and 22, which by Utah standards is actually a ripe old age. Almost 14 years later we have managed to stay married. Probably because we are both a bit crazy.

We did the same thing when we decided we wanted to have a baby. One day, we thought about it, and then 9 months later, Jake was born. Okay, I’ll admit, it took a little bit more than thinking. But for the sake of keeping this G rated, I won’t delve into those details. So clearly, Nick and I jump into life decisions at times. At other times, we thoughtfully plan things out, such as retirement, kid’s education, our own education, etc. But I’m not going to focus on those thoughtful plans of ours. What fun would that be? That would bore you to death.

Our latest crazy decision is our choice to PCS (move) to Alaska!!!! Leaving behind the comfort and safety of Washington to go to Alaska of all places! Daily I’m wondering what the heck we are doing. The army isn’t making us move as most people would think. No, the Bradley’s chose Alaska. So as I prepare for this crazy adventure, I can’t help but wonder at times if we truly aren’t just a bit crazy. And if I’m going to survive this move, I need to get just a bit crazier. You may ask yourself, why would anyone choose Alaska? That’s a great question, and let me answer that. We have decided that as long as we are in the army we might as well take advantage of being able to live in some pretty amazing places we wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to see and experience if we weren’t in the army.

What awaits us in Alaska? Cold weather? Beautiful serene nature? Loneliness? Happiness? Sadness? I really don’t know. It’s scary not knowing. But the illusion of the known is really just an illusion anyway, none of us know what tomorrow brings.

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Home is Where the Heart is

Oh the joys of preparing to move to a place greater than 2000 miles away. My predictable life here in Washington is slipping away each passing day.

We just sold Nick’s truck.  We bought it brand new in 2005, and it was a good truck. It was the first vehicle we bought brand new. Then, just like a snap of the fingers,  it was gone. Gone from our lives forever.  For 8 years, I would see Nick’s truck in the driveway. Now I come home and there is only an empty space where his truck used to be. I miss his truck. It seems so silly to miss an inanimate object, but that truck had so many memories for us. It went through 3 deployments with me, many family vacations, and so many other amazing memories. It was a good truck.

I realized I will also go through feeling a sense of loss when we leave this house. I love this house; it’s spacious, awesome set up, and we have created some great memories here.  It’s been a wonderful house. And now we are getting ready to sell it. After 3 years of enjoying my house, I will be saying goodbye to it as well.

Both of these things I will miss dearly.  I know we will be getting a different truck and a different house.  They both are only things, but in some ways, I do feel a sense of loss with selling the truck, and another sense of loss realizing we will be selling our house (hopefully).

All this change is happening whether I’m ready or not. I have to constantly remind myself that nothing in life is permanent, life is change. So I need to embrace it or drag my feet, but either way, things are a changin’. We are moving to Alaska in June whether I’m ready to or not.  I love my life here and now it’s almost over.  A brand new life to begin. I get to reinvent myself.  Over the horizon a new life is waiting, I need to prepare to meet that new life.

Home is where the heart is, not where the home is.

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Saying No Does Not Win Friends and Influence People

But it sure is liberating!!! I’ve spent most of my life saying yes when I’ve wanted to say ‘no’. As of this past month, I’ve been saying ‘no’ more and ‘yes’ less. I might not win any popularity contests this year, but I tell you what, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.

I am tired of doing things out of obligation or because I don’t know how to say ‘no’. My whole life I’ve spent trying to please everyone because I’m a people pleaser. Being a people pleaser has its benefits. It means I’m caring, sensitive to others, and an empathetic person. I also can read people’s feelings pretty well. The downside is I truly feel awful when someone is not pleased. It’s been impossible to please everyone which means I have felt awful a lot. At the cost of my own sanity and happiness, I would go to great lengths to try my best to make sure every one else was happy. I would say ‘yes’ to things I would really want to say ‘no’ to just so I wouldn’t hurt someone’s feelings. At the end of the day this left me feeling great discontent, exhaustion, frustration, and completely overwhelmed.

In saying ‘no’ more to others and ‘yes’ more to myself, I’ve learned that I have more balance and peace in my life. The plans I do make these days are more rewarding because it is something I truly want to do rather than something I feel obligated to do. However, I’m definitely not winning any awards in the people pleasing or popularity department. Saying ‘no’ to social plans without lying about an excuse is not an easy thing to do because the person I say ‘no’ to might feel bad. And making someone feel bad is not my cup of tea. But, I’m finally realizing that I’m also important, and I shouldn’t have to feel bad by saying ‘no’. Time is one of my most valuable commodities and my time is extremely precious. Should I really waste it doing things that I don’t feel add value to my life?

Sometimes it’s not so black and white. The benefit of saying ‘yes’ can help maintain friendships, or help someone in need. So at times, it’s important to say ‘yes’ even if a ‘no’ is what I want to say. Before saying ‘yes’ to something I don’t want to do, I really outweigh how it will affect my sanity, and if the positives will outweigh the negatives. The difference now is that I’m not saying ‘yes’ to EVERY option. I’m paying more attention to the big picture. I do still want to help people and have friends, but I also want to make sure it is not at the cost of my sanity.

It is a difficult concept for me to embrace because I really do wish everyone were pleased, and pleasing myself seems so selfish. And it is, which contradicts the whole spiritual aspect of my life. But the most unhappy I am is when I have too much going on around and me, and not enough time down time with my family. How good am I to others if I’m not good to myself? I really do have to put my own oxygen mask on first. So this year, I vow to say ‘no’ more and ‘yes’ less. This might wittle down my circle of friends, but I guess those that can’t understand this concept really aren’t ones I would want in my circle anyway. Besides, I have to include myself in that circle which is something I don’t think I’ve done before.

P.S. After publishing this post, I went to church and the message happened to be about the importance of relationships and community. Interesting.

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