Saturday, February 17, 2018

Observations: On moving, and getting settled-in

As a preface, I tell clients that my training is in making observation of patterns of behavior and thought, and drawing educated conclusions from those observations.  That is how I think...I observe patterns. 

The topic of moving is VERY fresh and on my mind, since we are in the settling-in phase of a move.  We are feeling our way around a new area, learning streets, where the good restaurants are, where to grocery shop, finding doctors, and gas stations, and church, and friends.  This is always a mixed bag of sadness, and excitement, and anxiety. 

 From the moment of arrival at the new, empty house, all the way through until the last box is unpacked (HA!!), this process is hard.  We are exhausted from whatever travel we have had to do.  We are all overworked with the packing process, cleaning out the old place, disposing of things that didn't make the cut, and saying farewells to places and people who have been important to us.  We are emotionally wrung-out from everything, and on edge about what the newest adventure will hold. 

We are a military family.  By usual standards, we move a LOT.  In counting back over 26 years, Jason and I have lived in 18 different houses, in 6 states.  We have a lot of experience with what it takes to get through a move.  We may be short with each other, and grumpy, and eat too much pizza, but we survive each and every move. 

In addition to all of the newness of a new state, new service providers, new environs....the hardest is always the making of new friends.  We are ALWAYS the outsiders.  This is harder on some family members than others....the more extroverted family members tend to find it easier to jump in with both feet, seeming to instantly make connections, while others take a while to warm up to and make friends with these new people.  Some areas seem to make it more difficult to make friends...perhaps being less used-to having military families around means that there is less expectation of making quick connections.  As a military family, we KNOW the importance of making connections quickly, both of the networking variety, and of the friendship variety. 

We were sitting around our dining table the other night, talking about expectations, and how challenging it is that our expectations are ALWAYS wrong.  This is something I have struggled with for the entirety of our married life, and applies very aptly to this discussion.  In all of our 18 different locations, I have had expectations based on others' experiences of moving....the proverbial "welcome-to-the-neighborhood cookies/pie/meal".  That has NEVER happened.  NOT ONE TIME.  Never has anyone noticed the moving vans and come to knock on the door to even say "welcome".  NOT ONE TIME. 

Now, I know this is not a universal experience.  I know that there ARE welcoming people, and that those stereotypes/expectations are there for a reason...there ARE places and times that this happens.  It just has not happened for our family.  And that is a challenge for me...because some day, we will no longer be the perpetually-new people on the block, and I can be the one sending over cookies, and inviting the new neighbors for dinner or coffee. 

I genuinely look forward to that day!! 

Friday, January 5, 2018

On house-hunting, educational choices, and discrimination

There is an issue rolling around in my head that is somewhat new to me, and so I am going to try to process this here on paper.  Forgive me if this seems rambly. 

I know there are some of you who will laugh, and say, "Girl, WHERE have you been?!?  This is NOT a new issue!"  Forgive me...this has not been on my radar, AT. ALL.  Though, to be honest, it probably should have.  Just chalk this up to my privilege showing....

I know a LOT of people who try to claim that racism no longer is a major part of this country's makeup, and that discrimination is rare.  I beg to differ.... 

In looking for houses, one big thing to consider, as a parent with children in school, is the quality of the school district, and of the individual schools.  There is a rating system, and it is easy to quickly see how well a school scores because those scores are included on the websites with the houses that are advertised. 

So, we've been looking at houses, and by extension, looking at schools, for the last two months.  And I saw something that really has bothered me.  In the areas of town where the rent is the lowest, and there are a large number of rental homes available, the schools scored the lowest (and by lowest, I mean the worst).  In the area zoned for the "good" schools, there is practically NO rentals available, and even though we are SOLIDLY middle-class, we couldn't afford to buy the homes that were available. 

I KNOW.  Schools get money based on their tax base.  I know that's how they are paid-for.  I get it. 

I just want to know, if there is no classism, no racism, no discrimination, why children from lower-income families don't get the same priority for a quality education as those from homes with higher incomes?  Are their educations less important?  Is there somehow less value to them attaining a good education? 

Methinks there is something rotten in the state of Denmark....

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Inside my head (during a PCS move)

"I'm sorry, ma'm.  You have what is known as 'major-move-itis'.  There is no treatment for this.  You just have to ride it out, and hope for the best." 

Every time we move, I feel like I have come down with the worst sickness known to man. 
No one wants to do things with me because I am moving. 
Heck, I don't want to do things with me....I don't like who I am when I am preparing for a move. 
I am much to do in so little time. 
I am going to forget something, so I am hyper-focused. 
I beat myself up about how messy the house is. 
I beat myself up about how much stuff has accumulated in the 2.5/3/4/7 years we have been in this place. 
I want to spend all the time with all the people. 
I want to hibernate...sleeping away the time will make it pass more quickly, right?!?
I feverishly try to get all the things done.
I feverishly attempt to avoid doing all the things. 

Internally, it is no better. 
I'm a ball of nerves. 
Emotions well up at the most inopportune times. 
I get overwhelmed easily. 
I show my anxiety as anger, and impatience. 
I have gotten better over the years, but my poor husband used to bear the brunt of my move-emotions. 

This time, we have a forced day off a week before the movers arrive. 
There is a BLIZZARD forecast for tonight.  EVERYTHING will be closed tomorrow.  There is really NOTHING we can going out to return things, or get rid of things.  I mean, I WILL continue washing curtains and boxing them up, and planning what needs to go out next trash day, and trying to sell off 5 window AC units, a dryer, and 39 extra gift bags, among other things...but I can (and WILL) do that from the comfort of my office, in my jammies and warm slippers....with a hot cup of tea. 

Please pray for a smooth-ish transition over the two weeks.... we need it!! 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A tale of two gifts

You never know what it is that people will remember about you, what thing it is that you do that will make their day special. 

One Christmas, more than 30 years ago, a young girl and her mother were given luxurious bathrobes.  To the young girl, this gift was special, showing a recognition of growth, maturing, and love from a family member.  To her mother, who received a robe identical in all but color, the gift was an opportunity to complain. 

Fast forward through teen years, college, the births of 6 children, and 25 years of marriage, and the original robe was MUCH worse for wear. 

When queried about what I would like for Christmas this year, I said I would like a nice robe, which I was given.  The bonus is in the color.... 

To the two family members who blessed me with almost identical bathrobes, 35 years apart, thank you.  Your gifts mean more than you know.... 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


1. I have learned in more than 20 years of observing military families that it is not the act of service that shapes the life of the children of those who serve, but rather the character of the person doing the service.

2. If I come to you acting/feeling needy, it is because I feel like there might be something fundamentally wrong with how I interact with the world.  I don't need judgment.  I need you to reassure me that I am normal and/or show me a more effective way.

3. Socializing by financial strata isolates from some pretty amazing people, and makes you see things through a very small window that blinds you to most of the rest of the world's perspective.

4. There are crappy people at every level.  More money will not make them better people, and less money does not make them worse people.  More money means they have more leverage to hide who they really are at heart, so they can manipulate more readily.

5. People say things as platitudes, but their words mean nothing, and often are more painful to the hearer than to have said nothing at all.  Silence truly is golden.  Or, as my mother used to say, "Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it."

6.  People are lazy on social media.  Very few research anything.  Most just repost without checking veracity, and often react without thinking through what they have read, not looking at it from any perspective besides their own. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Change is coming....

There is always news of change, some unexpected, but always change.

It will not be news to anyone that we have been waiting for orders for MONTHS.  Forever is a LONG time to spend in limbo...but flexibility is something we are no strangers to....

And now we actually have news!!  ORDERS!!

And so...

We're doing things....

...and looking for housing... and a job (for me), and figuring out schools, and a church, and doctors, and hair stylists....  

...because we're headed to....  

Can't wait to say "See ya later!" to Massachusetts!! 

Actual dates are not very far in the future...the Navy procrastinated as long as they could, so we will be leaving in early January.  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Stepping up to say ENOUGH

I'm sure most of the US, and for sure a small community in Texas are still reeling from the after-shocks of the shooting that happened almost a week ago.  As I struggle to make sense of the deaths of half of that small country church, I have been reading media accounts, testimonies of family members, of the two community heroes who stopped the gunman, and the background of the man who did this.

This is my attempt to assimilate everything I know so far....

The gunman was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force after being convicted and serving time for domestic abuse of his wife and infant stepson.  The Air Force admits that they neglected to pass along this information to the agencies who should have been alerted, making it possible for him to purchase the guns he used.   (sources: here, here, here)

The details of what he did, and why he did it, and who was killed, and who was injured, and how he was stopped are available all over the internet with only the most cursory search.  Those things are not really what is most concerning to me.

In the wake of this horrific crime, people again are asking "WHY?!?"  Why are white men, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, doing terrible things to powerless people?

These questions always make me start looking for patterns, which is what I am trained to do.  Patterns of behavior help us figure out why things like this happen, and what can be done to prevent further bloodshed.

Too often, people think there is no tie between the "lone wolf" gunmen across our nation.  "They acted alone" is the report on the news.  While that may be true, there is a disturbing link between most of them that is often overlooked, underreported, and most often completely ignored.  That link is a history of domestic violence.

This gunman abused his wife and stepson.
In Texas, in the last 7 years, there are nine more incidents (at least) where groups of 4 or 5 family members and friends were killed by someone with a history of domestic violence (source).
It doesn't just happen in Texas. 
While perpetrators of domestic violence account for only about 10 percent of all gun violence, they accounted for54 percent of mass shootings between 2009 and 2016, according to the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, so there is a disproportionate link, Webster tells Kodjak. (source). 

 In working with victims of domestic violence, one shocking statistic shows that the most dangerous time for a woman escaping a violent and controlling man is AFTER she has already left the relationship.  THAT is when she is most likely to be killed.  (More statistics at this link).

The typical woman tries to leave a violent relationship SEVEN times before she is successful.
Why don't they leave sooner?
 - - They have been alienated from their friends and family by their abuser.
 - - They are afraid people won't believe them this time.
 - - Fear of retaliation by the abuser.
 - - For Christians, they are often told to stay in the relationship.
 - - Fear of losing their children.
 - - Fear of homelessness.

This is a complicated issue.
Women and children need to be protected.
Violent men need to be redirected, to be stopped from continuing the abuse.
Churches need to know how to respond.

This morning, our pastor talked about security for our very large church, and how there is a concerted effort to keep those attending services as safe as possible.  This is a NEEDED response.  But it is NOT enough.

Our church also is affiliated with a ministry to women, providing a safe and confidential resource for women who are in abusive relationships.  This is a NEEDED response.  But it is NOT typical for churches across the country.

This week I posed a question on Facebook, asking my MANY pastor-friends what their policies are for dealing with domestic violence.  I got ONE response...from a female pastor...and NONE from male pastors, though they outnumber female pastors by a large majority.  I want to give the benefit of the doubt, and recognize that they may have been preparing for the weekend's services...but I'd still like to hear from them, at least an acknowledgement that this needs to be on their radar.  Because, as we saw last week, domestic violence unchecked affects us all, even in the church...maybe ESPECIALLY in the church.