The New Normal

Most of my posts have been about lessons I have learned. These have been a lot easier to compose than the one before you. What I share with you now is a lesson I am still learning. It is a road I am still traveling, so I figured I'd take you along for the ride...

It's been over a year now that the man I love left to begin his tour of active duty with the military. Hard to believe how fast and yet how slowly it has passed by. In raw honesty, it was one of the hardest years of my life. When he first left I found myself pouring over "so you're dating a military man" blogs, and what I read completely horrified me. Girls were gushing about never leaving their phones, passing up nights with friends, and not doing much else but watch their phones, should they light up with a call from him. I read these posts and told myself I could be the exception, I didn't have to abandon my life just because I was now alone. I remember taking deep breaths and praying. I prayed for strength and I prayed for patience. I asked God to grant me the two things I felt like I was without.

You'll never know the journey of being a military girlfriend/wife until you are one. The women I've met and who have listened, laughed, and cried with me, have taught me that compassion is a quality you must have if you are to travel down the road of the red, white, and blue. To them I offer a million thank you's-and that wouldn't be enough. You all are my inspiration and show me that strength can be summoned even in the most despairing of times.  There exists a kinship so sacred that I have felt both privileged and honored to know all of you.

I remember talking with a new friend of mine while I was visiting my boyfriend's base over Christmas. With her I shared my recent struggles and how at times I have felt completely helpless.  I shared with her the disease of loneliness and how at times it seemed my boyfriend did not or could not understand. She listened and told me something that I have since cherished... she laughed and nodded at my words and told me everything I was feeling was completely normal. She too had gone through similar bouts of loneliness and helplessness. She wanted me to know it doesn't last forever. The minute I heard the word normal...that was the best feeling in the world. My head, often so full of thoughts and ideas, was quiet for a quick moment. What I was going through, everything I felt, was something bigger than myself. For generations before my birth women have survived the sacrifice of separation.  It's not something that just any woman can handle. I feel that God knows very well what he's doing when he picks out which one of us will rise to the challenge of the ultimate sacrifice.

Now, I know I still have a long way to go before I make it to the ranks of some of my sisters. I'm still learning the terrain, and I have my good days and my bad. There are moments where I still feel crazy and there are days where I wish I had a private jet. But I'm trying. In a lot of ways I can almost hear God laughing softly when I look up with frustration. I like to think he's up there cheering me on, saying to me, "My child I would not have given you this if I thought you couldn't handle it. So buck up and push on." And in my heart I know he is right. I know that loving a military man means putting yourself second, because much like the person you love, the country we call home becomes an undeniable first. But to someone who is just beginning, I'd tell her, it takes time, and you'll fail a lot along the way. You just need to keep trying. It's never easy when someone else's choice becomes your only option...but every good story needs a hefty obstacle to overcome.

My biggest battle right now is learning to accept. A sense of control must be abandoned while we adopt a means to accept whatever the next assignment or situation that is fast approaching might be. And I just enrolled in Acceptance 101. There are no textbooks and there is no teacher. In this scenario, the lessons are my mistakes from which I am taking notes.

But, where there is love, there is hope.  And between the men and women I have met facing this reality, along with my boyfriend and myself...there is enough love to sustain me for years to come. There exists a fierce passion behind the belief that one must fight for the beautiful things in life. One must be willing to get down in the dirt and even after falling, have the perseverance to get back up. Because the men far away from us aren't the only ones wearing camo. We just sport ours on our hearts.




The Road Not Taken

Tonight's original post has been shelved. It's a good laugh but I think it will be much better suited for tomorrow night instead. Instead, I want to dive into a different topic. We put this subject matter in shoe boxes that find themselves camouflaged by clothes in our closets  The street I'm going down is called Forgotten Avenue, or perhaps better known as Memory Lane.

The human mind captivates me, but even more so how we handle our pasts. This idea that every person you see has a unfinished story written up there in their head, in a language only they can read... is just awing. In essence we are all just walking notebooks, our bodies marked with scribbles and punctuations. Sorry Shakespeare, but perhaps all the world is a library.

I know when it comes to my past, I am very much so shaped by it, both by what I'd like to remember and what I've tried (and failed) to forget.  Someone told me once that they saw my past in my eyes, and I guess that makes sense. After all, the eyes are the iPad mini through which we see the soul.  But even with eyes wide shut the film screen plays out years gone by and the dialogue is heard so loudly that the people in the neighboring theater complain.

I'm realizing that we cannot escape our pasts, these scribbles and punctuations cannot be erased. They are sketched on our bodies with permanent ink and we are the showcased artworks in the gallery opening called Life.  And this is something I guess I have a hard time swallowing...maybe you do too.
What's so hard about accepting the past is that sometimes it hurts to think about it. Sometimes you pick up an awful chapter and think, why would I ever want someone else to read this? 

But what I am coming to realize is that every chapter needs to be read and reread, because it teaches us how to live out the next one. It illustrates a roadmap of experiences that enable us to live well and even more importantly- to live fully.

Sometimes the past is a book you need to sit down on a park bench with and have a good read. Because that's where life's greatest lessons are written down. Generation after generation, we the people, are the writers of the book called Lessons, and they are all derived from one gravel road.  It's rocky, uncomfortable  and sometimes nostalgic. But at the end of the road you arrive back at the present, ready to keep driving off the beaten trail. Because when Robert Frost said to take the path less traveled by, maybe he meant take the road called Memory Lane, or Forgotten Avenue. After all, learning from our mistakes, in the words of Robert Frost, would make all the difference.




A Denim Revolution

There are days when meeting my parents for a post work dinner they see me enter the restaurant, take one look at my outfit and ask, "Did you seriously wear that to your job?!"

And my answer is, Yes Mom & Dad, I did wear this boho blazer, colored denim, and riding boots to my job. Why might you ask? Because wearing a ball gown felt a little too stiff.

From my observations as both a young professional and a child of style, there is a revolution afoot. The days of mauve lipstick, flared black "work" pants, and square stiff blazers are approaching their end. Generation Y has rang the bells of war on a stark working world and their soldiers are clad in colored denim. The heels your mother wore should no longer be your greatest steal. Instead loafer wedges are walking into conference rooms and cropped pants have unfolded themselves gracefully into cubicles.  Where's my briefcase? Try a Longchamps tote or for the boys a cross body messenger. Generation Y is freeing the hands of the oppressed because paired with a good pair of e-touch gloves, how else would you be able to text down the winter streets of the city? No one likes some red chapped hands handing them their reports.

It doesn't stop here though, the corporate world of Generation Y is one that is centered around convenience. We've even taken to using a chap stick that is already rounded! We have no time to actually circle our dry mouths, we need the product to do that for us. Thank you EOS for knowing this before we did. Your lip wisdom has changed my life and my mouth.

The idea of a formal work environment has become, for many companies, (I.E. Coyote Logistics, GUESS, Lucky Brand) as jaded as lip liner. In the year 2013 my peers are pushing down the doors of tradition and turning up the song called Change.  Now, listen close. This doesn't mean the value in tradition has vanished like CDs. Rather it is a revolution of reworking and curating a new perspective. With fresh mascara-ed lashes, we are looking at PC's and asking, why isn't this a Mac?  We are asking questions, but not with the youthful arrogance we have been branded by. The past is what has shaped our society and is the gas in our engines. The past illustrated what could be, and now we wish to push the envelope further. The office for the fashion fiends is a haven of creativity. It is a place of business and beauty. Presentation time?  The auditorium is your runway. As a culture we have begun to rely on our appearance to relay the message of who we are. Individuality is embedded in that statement necklace... so choose wisely.

With every revolution there is a catalyst and from what I see, this one begins with jeans. Who knew denim could be so daring? We live in a society of jeggings, so is it really a shock to the system that denim is becoming just as vital as your morning Starbucks?

As long as Generation Y tweets tradition alongside innovation, I am seeing a corporate future full of color.  It might not always be mint green jeans, because after all, this Fall's color is lavender.

Go rock your purple.




Lessons in Love

My iPhone's gmail is crying out for help. It's suffocating with all the LivingSocial & Groupon street vendors asking if I'd like a dozen red roses on the 14th. Well, thank you gentlemen, but no thanks. Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays (I am a greeting card FIEND) but not because of all the red and pink things. It's a day that I often find myself reflecting on where I was the previous year.  No matter if you're deliciously single or in smooth sailing relation-ship, we all wake up February 14th and think huh... it's been a whole year? 

In thinking about all this lately (thanks to the Groupon chorus boys) I came to a conclusion about the lessons in love. That being, we all have two big loves in our lives. There may be many in between, but in talking with your gals or pals, you always reference one as the head honcho X Factor, and the other is crowned the victor (the BF).  For me and my inner circle of trusted ladies- you know who I'm talkin about. We all have one of each my friends, and let there be no shame, for we can not have one without the other. The Big Wrong often paves the path for the Big Right. I know I met my Big Right when I least expected it. I had just decided to be single, throwing myself into the reckless abandon of Singletown, USA. But just when the water was beginning to warm up, I was pulled out of the pool by an incredible man. 

No story starts like this though. Our stories begin on Valentines Days we'd rather forget, texts that sent our phones flying across bars, and late night bonfires where your heart catches aflame.  How could you have known it was about to be torched? That when you least expected it, your relation-ship would be captured by ravenous pirates? Oh... and the iceberg you chose to ignore? Yea babe... it's dead ahead.  The Big Wrongs in our lives aren't all bad though, and I know many people who remain friends with the person that once shattered their hearts. Personally (and thankfully) friendship with my exes is not my speciality, nor theirs. The Big Wrong is usually your first love, or at least the first person who you looked at and thought for the first time, "When we gettin married?" Typically it's a volatile relationship where slowly but surely you tear apart everything that made that person beautiful. You run on passion and your endurance is that of Lance Armstrong's when it comes to drama-rama. You get invited to the Olympics of mind games that make Hunger Games look like a walk in the park.  You experience for the first time a raw vulnerability that makes even a glance seem like a knife.  And yet--> you're in love. You placate your anxious friends and dressed in armor march of to the battlefield of first loves. Some of us come out with a Big Wrong turned into a Big Right. More often than not though, our friends come running out onto the field after the white flag has waved. They pull you back to safety and nurse you back to the person you forgot you could be. You lick your wounds and heal, but this time, you're wiser and instinctively cautious. You tell yourself... dating is nowhere near the now.

And then after years (or months) of little oops-es and Big Wrongs, you meet him. You approach him like you're starring in The Prestige and you're just waiting for the evil twin to come around the bend. But that doesn't happen.  You two begin to talk and something funny takes over. You're back and you're open. Your heart begins to move and your brain gives the green light for go. Your worst fears are back but this time they're not so scary. You're raw and vulnerable but in the most beautiful way. Sure you have your walls, we all do. Not to have them is like a country without an army- you're just asking for an attack. And an attack on the heart? Not so easy to bounce back from.  

The Big Right could be the guy you'll be celebrating this VDay with, or it could be the guy tweeting about when he's gonna meet you. The scariest thing about love is the not knowing. I'm a planner, so placing blind trust in something so precious (i.e. my heart) is horrifying.  But I can honestly say, I've never regretted it... and you won't either. Don't let the Big Wrong taint your dating profile page forever. It takes some littles and bigs to find the one that's just your size. 

Without the past loves of my life, in particular the Big Wrong, I would have never found, nor truly acknowledged the pure joy it is to date your best friend. That's the dream. So go out & live it.