Close your eyes, let your spirit soar

Sometimes the mask needs to go.

Sometimes the mask needs to go.

 

Anniversaries are a weird thing.  Sometimes they can be happy and full of joy, like weddings or employment.  And other times they are awful, like deaths.  I guess it’s a matter of perspective.  As I sit here in present time in 2014, I reflect back on my three-year Iron Girl anniversary…and my 4-year-almost-got-married anniversary.  It’s not so much a let’s wallow in the past moment, but let’s celebrate the moments as I moved charged forward.  It’s amazing how the first four months (okay, admittedly longer) of my engagement-that-wasn’t-meant-to-be I couldn’t imagine my life without former fiance, and now, I honestly can’t imagine my life with him.

I also think symbolism is a powerful thing.  Originally, our “song” (you know, everyone has a cheesy song) was “All I ask of You” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera.  I recently found the CD and popped it in during the drive to work (it’s no Sirius, I know).  That song, as I listen to is now, seems so promising, but also naive and filled with fairy tales.  Maybe it’s my jaded 30-year-old self thinking this, but really…how early 20s is that song and thought process?  Totally pre-quarter-life crisis.  I know now there’s no one who can fulfill certain emotional needs solely by their existence, devotion, and validation – it takes some personal commitment and work to partner with someone else to get through this life a bit easier.  But no one can lead you down this path guaranteeing everything will be okay.

But then…these lyrics came on from “Music of the Night” and it suddenly all made sense, like a total “oh shit!” moment.

Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams
Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before
Close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar
And you’ll live as you’ve never lived before

I mean, if that stanza doesn’t summarize my past four years, I don’t know what will.  I did purge the life I knew before – the civilian job hopes and dreams, the potential of living in Cleveland, Ohio for the rest of my life (this is a good purge), and I got to let my spirit soar and now I’m living like I haven’t.  Cliche, yes of course.  True, most definitely.  Life hasn’t been perfect, but it never is.  But this life I’ve lived because of the darkness I had to surrender to has been pretty freaking awesome.  I’ve seen half of the United States, done a triathlon, seen some awesome cities, met great people, became the 1%, ran half marathons and marathons, re-found fitness, and found myself in a career I never would have going down the civilian path I was currently taking.

So, on this fourth anniversary, one traditionally honored with fruit or flowers, I’m going to celebrate with some roses, acknowledging that what was once a thorn is now beautiful life.

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In-dependas or independence?

I try really hard to avoid military social functions.  It’s not because I dislike the people who are attending or the company or outing isn’t appealing.  It’s because I continually feel insanely out of place.  Today, I was invited to a Fourth of July/Farewell shindig.  Upon arrival, I was the only one there solo (boyfriend hates these things so elected to stay home).  As I watched my surroundings, I saw five couples, three of them had children, another couple has only half clearly wanting children, and the other will remain childless (and nameless).  Normally, this isn’t a bad thing.  Until more and more couples showed up with more and more kiddos.  And as all of this was happening, I wasn’t getting any younger.  Two guests had just celebrated 21st birthdays.  I don’t even remember in what year I turned 21.   

Maybe it’s a product of watching my grandmother have children at age 30 in the 1950s or my own mother waiting to have children until she was 28 and 30 respectively that I don’t quite understand babies having babies.  It’s such a hard concept for me to grasp, and I feel terrible for judging, but I can’t NOT feel badly for these women.  I mean, sometimes I wish I could stay at home all day and Pinterest and pretend to play house, but I can’t imagine at age 21-22-23 or even 27 accepting that was my primary role in life – to take care of kids and keep the house.  I also can’t imagine knowing myself enough to truly know I was going to commit to someone, because at that point in my life I was in the bubble of college with no proven adulthood experience.   “Dependas” aka dependents aka milspouse stereotypically (not ALL) get to stay in that bubble, popping out children, hoping they can get a job at Applebee’s as a server, living in military housing, and pretending real adult relationships are based off of video games, League of Legends and government housing.  When I become a parent, I don’t want to ever think deciding between diapers and Netflix is a hard decision, let alone not be financially secure enough or responsible enough to actually have to make that choice.  I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck in efforts to hope that I can buy clothes and formula.  

Or maybe I question my place in life because I’m 30, unmarried but happily committed to a great guy and I constantly have people up in my uterus asking when I’m having kids.  The answer is, when I’m ready.  And I don’t know when that is.  But if these social situations continue to confirm that I’m not, then I know now is not the time.  If these young ladies are content and happy and loving where they are in life, then more power to them.  I applaud their decisions to devote their lives to being a mother.  But as I view from a very much outsider position looking in, it feels so alienating.  I can’t talk about whether I’d use cloth or disposable with the other girls at these things, and I spend 40 hours a week having to engage in shop talk.  I can’t talk about goals for a PhD or my dreams to travel the world, because they’re talking to me about their kids’ poop and the CCAF.  Maybe someday I can talk about both, but not in this assignment, or maybe even in this military.  In the civilian world, I’m right on track in life.  In the military, without two kids and a divorce by my age, I’m way behind the experience in life curve.  

Until this is all resolved, I’ll be celebrating the independence I’ve developed in life — independence that myself and Beyonce are pretty proud of, as opposed to the alternative of being “in-dependence” with someone or something else.   

 

It’s time to change, we’ve got to rearrange

life-change-images-1727007

After a fairly successful 2013, I feel like Quarter 1 of 2014 has knocked me down time and time again.  My energy is l0w, my motivation lacks, and I find myself questioning everything.  I’m angry, bitter, and removed.  This is not good.  I applied to the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, really hoping to get out of enlisted life and a commission and a PhD.  Instead, I didn’t even get an interview and had to retreat back to the dungeons of menial, boring work.  So, I attempted to deploy….hopeful I’d have a shot at adventure, and then those dreams were shattered as well.

My leadership keeps trying to encourage me along, and I know they mean well.  Keep working hard, they say.  We’ll get you recognition they say.  Keep working hard, you set a high standard, you’re involved and have done great things, keep doing them.  I kindly reply thank you but no thank you.

And herein lies the problem.  I don’t work hard to recognition.  Never have and never will.  Earning AOY was nice, but it wasn’t an ultimate goal.  Getting coined is great, but I don’t do the things I do to succeed.  I just work hard based on the principles quoted in They Live: I deliver a hard day’s work for my money. I just want the chance. It’ll come. I believe in America. I follow the rules. Everybody’s got their own hard times these days.  

But, even taking a cognizant step back to allow others to step into leadership roles, lead things, an get actively engaged as a developmental opportunity for others, I’m still expected to fill shoes and expectations.  But honestly, there’s not much else to complete that my rank allows.  And it’s frustrating as all hell when you’ve reached your developmental capacity based on institutional limitations and just feel trapped.  LIterally like Shamu in a big pool at SeaWorld with no where else to go but around and around in circles in a pool, knowing you deserve a vast ocean.

The truth is I’m tired, and I think I deserve the right to take a step back and deliberately choose what activities I invest my time into  — those being me!  I work 0530-1330 every day now, and although not intellectually taxing work, it’s emotionally and mentally draining because it’s literally that boring.  I come home, take a quick nap, go work out, and then fall asleep, all to wake up at zero dark thirty the next morning in hopes I have something more to do than make a single powerpoint slide.  It’s amazing that these organizational structures which promote burnout exist almost every where.  At Hiram, the same 100 people were involved in pretty much everything.  The same model applies in an AF squadron.  No wonder colleges graduate people every four years and squadrons PCS 3-4 years.  It would be terrible if people stayed put any longer.  2 years is pushing it for most.

I need a change, and I need a change really soon.  This isn’t me or who I am.  Big Blue hasn’t seemed to like my personal plans this first quarter, but they haven’t heard the last of me.  I’ll keep moving forward.  Hash tag winning.

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!  — Rocky

Dos.

I feel like because Adele can name her albums 21 or 19, and Beyonce and can her album IV, I can call this post DOS.  Like it’s some dramatic wonderful piece of writing which will instantly change lives, if not for a brief five seconds of inspiration and power.  Hey, we call all dream.

Dos.  It’s been two years since I boarded a plane from Syracuse, NY and flew to Washington Reagan and then to San Antonio to enter the “World’s Greatest Air Force.”  I remember the civilian looking at my enlistment paperwork asking if I really had in fact completed 18 years of education.  Yes, I’d been in school longer than most fellow enlistees had been alive.  I met my “Military Training Instructor” who provided 8 weeks of entertainment and a real life Zimbardo prison study experiment.  I met crazy borderlines, and princesses, and girls who freaked out about losing 4 inches around the waist but gaining 3 pounds, and 35 year olds, and married women, and engaged girls, and lesbians, and my best Air Force friend who also has a Master’s degree and I still talk with at least weekly despite the fact she’s half way around the world.  I was probably far too bold in many situations, but I’d like to think I kept my MTI on his toes and his “material” aka  smart-witted comments which made it near impossible to keep military bearing.

But the real gift in this two years is the stable employment.  It is a very fearful thought to think if I got out tomorrow (and believe me, there are days I want out yesterday) what would I do with 3 years of psychology experience and two years of military experience, no matter how much education I have.  I’m beyond the luxury of being able to go back to school just to be able to go back to school.  But, it’s the simple pleasures of my stable employment which keeps me here.  I can Crossfit, run races, and play soccer.  Buy clothes if I want.  Indulge in scrapbook materials and other crafty materials.  I’ve paid off credit card debts which loomed when I was nearly a year and a half out of full-time work.  I have no fear of deductibles or car payments if I get in an accident because that money’s sitting there waiting for me.  I don’t need to wait to get my tax refund to try to make ends meet.  And this Christmas, there’s no fear of having my credit card declined and suffering defeat and embarrassment beyond what normal people should feel when trying to buy Chinese food alone on Christmas day because I have the cash monies.   But it’s not the perceived power or status of money, because let’s be real, I’m an E-4 in the military, it’s the reduction in stress that results when you don’t need to pray that nothing will be wrong with your car on this e-check because you can’t afford new tires, or hoping you won’t get sick because you don’t heave health insurance, or moving 5 times because you always need to find the best rental deal you can.  Or hoping that a job offer will come through so you can begin to feel “normal” again instead of scrambling from county to county and job to job, trying to get there on time and without a car wreck.  And while I might not be making my 65-75K a year right now, I can look proudly back on the fact that, like Drake, I started from the bottom, now I’m here.  And that’s a lot to be thankful for (preposition, oy vey!).

On One Year

Nevermind all the times I just couldn't wait
I cant remember when it all began to change
Watching the grass grow and die from summer to fall
It's funny how the year passes by and you don't notice at all
I know, I know

I can't go wrong, as long as I remember where I'm from
Hold my head up just to keep it clear
I want a chance just to face my fear, face my fear
- Can't Go Wrong, Phillip Phillips 

Image26 June 2013: This date marks my one year time on station.  So in essence, I have been employed by DoD and the same agency for a year.  Yay stability!  It was definitely a year of both growing pains, personal accomplishments, and lessons in life.  I’ve met some fantastic people, and have been less than impressed with a few.  Overall, while applying multiple 80/20 rules, I have become the 20% of employees who do 80% of the work, but more importantly, have enjoyed myself 80% of the time and like what I do.  I don’t LOVE it, but it suffices.  

Top Accomplishments of the Year:

  • One week into my new flight “Oh, you’re the girl who likes to run” and ran the opening leg in the base’s POW/MIA Run
  • I finished the Air Force Marathon – 26.2 miles!
  • Over 700 volunteer hours between Girls on the Run, the base chapel, and various other events I’ve found myself partaking in.
  • I’ve won some 5Ks and have begun my quest to run a race in every month of the year.  In Six months, 11 races done.
  • Command Brief Team!  One of four on site.  
  • SAPR Victim’s Advocate, one of three in our entire squadron.  
  • I was named “Hot Shot” of the month for my work sections twice.  It’s nice to be recognized.  
  • Selected to run for AETC in the AF MAJCOM Challenge at the USAF 1/2 Marathon in September.  **It pays to submit paperwork even if you don’t think you have a shot!**

And now some important lessons learned:

  • Sometimes you have to lay low, but not too low.  You can’t expect the supervisor you have been assigned to actually be invested in your career.  You need to seek out mentorship and guidance from others sooner rather than later.  I waited far too long for this, being far too conscious of the rank/structure/chain of command of the military.  Bottom line, if you need something from your career, go get it.  
  • If you clearly know someone who are working with/for has limitations in their view of the world or their human relations skills, just lower those expectations.  Lower them and refer to lesson number one.  And in the same sense, don’t let their limitations define you potential.  Go out, do, seek, try.  
  • Never say no to an opportunity.  Seriously, even if you think you have no shot in doing it.  If you say you’ll be there be there.  Far too often people don’t follow through with their commitments, so if you do, you are that much further ahead of the game.  Case in point, 21 of us started out with the briefing team interest.  The next week, I was the only person to show up to practice.  Six weeks later there are only four of us on the briefing team.  Three from the 21 who showed interest.  Persistence pays.  Face time pays.  
  • Sometimes it’s the little things in life, like emails from your SEL to your leadership to thank you for all you do that means so much more than anything.  **Note to self when in leadership roles: thank your people more often than reprimanding them.  They will feel appreciated and in turn work harder.**
  • Consistency is key.  We all have off days, but being a persistent and consistent hard worker has won the respect and mentorship of many people with years of experience.  Within that hard work, you can learn something from anyone, whether it’s how you would do something or how you wouldn’t do something.  
  • Start mentoring others soonest.  Whether they arrive on station from another base or straight from technical training, set up people for success.  This is key to being a strong person and a strong co-worker.  Childish jealousy games are pointless when we have a mission to accomplish.  So let’s help each other tap into our talents and achieve mission goals more efficiently.  
  • It’s not about the degrees you have, how old you are, or where you are going in life.  It’s about using your gifts and talents where you are in the journey and making the best of it.  That’s when life is most fulfilling and everything comes together.  

And so now we press on, to my second year time on station to challenge, evolve, conquer, and excel.

A journey of 26.2 miles almost commences with this post…..

Image So obviously my marathon was on 15 September 2012; somehow I forgot to publish this back in the day, but I find it fitting and necessary to share, especially as I prepare my summer training plan and moving towards more halfs and full marathons in the end of 2013/early 2014.  And…away we go!  

My first MARATHON is in 14 days.  Only taper, a plane ride and hopefully just under 5 hours of constant movement forward separates me from being part of the crazy group of runners who decide pushing their mental and physical limits is a way of fun, a goal towards happiness, a lifestyle they are willing to endure.  

So, in efforts to reflect on the reasons I began to think running a marathon was even a feasible goal, I think about the 26.2 reasons I decided to run this thing.  Even today, on a “six-mile easy” run day, half way into my first slowly paced mile, I had to force myself mentally not to quit.  It was too congested in the cardio room, I was on a treadmill (something I don’t do often), I had more important things to do.  But looking at the bigger picture, I got it…the reasons why I embarked on this journey for a greater reason than just to say I did it.  It was easy to find the motivation for my Iron Girl…I was fueled by emotional anguish.  But this, this was a test of self-discipline, dedication, and long-term goals with the ability to plan for their fulfillment.  It seemed like a good idea four months ago…..but why?

26.2 Reasons Why I decided to Run 26.2 Miles

1.  Because my first year in the Air Force needs to be commemorated.  Why not make my first marathon the Air Force Marathon?

2.  I was once the fat girl.  When I turned 25, I was 168 pounds.  Horrible.  Terrible.  T.R.B.L.  But it wasn’t about weight, it was that I wasn’t healthy.  So, for my 28th birthday, the year where I can only be closer to 30 instead of 25, I’m choosing to maintain my health, in one of the most demanding races out there.

3. Because the body can do some amazing things.  Do you know how awesome it is to be able to run for an hour, put in 7 miles, and NOT be sore or winded?  It’s pretty awesome.

4. Because I feel sexiest when I sweat, work hard, and kick butt.  Natural strength and beauty is so much more attractive than painted on faces, sucked in stomach, and duck lips.

5. Because I have to remind myself on the daily that life is a marathon and not a sprint.  This gives the necessary reminder to myself to just pace my self.  Slow and steady, and I WILL finish the race.  Just because I can’t change being treated like a small child today doesn’t mean that through good pacing and hard work, in a year I won’t have those treating me like a small child saluting me.  It’s a metaphor for life.

6.  Because guys like girls with endurance.

7.  Because it’s my birthday and I’ll run if I want to.

8. Because if you tell me I can’t, I’ll show you I will.

9.  Because running is an amazing way to escape the mundane daily tasks and reach psychological balance.

10. Because I like creating play lists, and this one gets to be extra long.  

11. Because it’s my health, and I value that.

12. Because I want to be a living example of someone who sets a goal and finishes it for my Girls on the Run.  Whether it’s a 5K, 10K, or 1 mile run – I want to set a goal and finish it.

13. Because I want to transfer my running goals into personal goals.

14.  Because after three months, I know I’ll need to get outta Texas for a even a little bit!

15. Because I never liked running and now I do.  As in, I probably picked to play goalkeeper in high school because I enjoyed that much more than running around as a midfielder.  And for the terrible shape I was while playing college soccer, somehow I need to redeem myself.

16.  Because I had completed an Iron Girl and this seemed like a good next event.  

17.  Because it makes me part of another elite group of 1% in the world.  Not that I’m an elitest, but it’s fun to say you are a small group of people who has EVER run a full marathon.

18. Because I like race bling, okay?

19. Because living in Boston inspired me to begin running.  And even though I’m not there, my heart is.

20. Because I got 99 problems, and cardio ain’t one.

21. This is the transformation of who I was to who I am now.  It was another journey, and journey very tentatively taken into the military world.  I’m still on that path, but it’s been good to see the evolution.

22. Because it’s always good to win bets against former instructors.  Period.

23. There’s a weird satisfaction I get through physical pain.  Not in a sadistic way, but in a way that I know I pushed my body to an absolute limit or further than I thought I ever could.

24. I run for hope; I run to feel;I run for the truth;For all that is real;I run for your mother your sister your wife;I run for you and me my friend I run for life.

25. Because people think I run away, but I actually run towards opportunity.

26. Because I needed to explore the Missions and River Walk of San Antonio in a unique, intimate way.

26.2 Because I’m crazy.  I’ve accepted this!  

Dear Civilians….

Dear civilian Americans:Image

It’s come to my attention lately that the evolution of my sarcasm, dry with and wry humor has been somewhat confusing, and potentially troubling to some of you.  Allow me to explain.  

In November 2011 I gave up a civilian life that so many of my friends know as comfortable and normal to join what they call the “military.”  The structure and hierarchical nature of the beast is not one to be reckoned with, and unless you experience the day to day back story which allows to only coping and say I have in the situations I am currently forced into as sarcastic Facebook posts, it’s hard to really understand the gist of the tragic comedy.  But let me try to draw some parallels, so maybe you can laugh with me too instead of thinking I’m just a complaining, whiny brat.  

In the civilian world, college juniors at most colleges/universities can move off-campus, providing they are willing to pay.  Or, you can claim commuter student as a freshman.  The point is, ALL undergrads aren’t necessarily required to stay on campus.  In the military, think of rank as you class year.  Guess what…ALL junior enlisted are required to say on base.  Unless of course someone put a ring on it.  So, it does not matter that I am 28 years old, have more education that 60% of the officers appointed above me, and have lived independently for nearly ten years.  In the eyes of the military, an E-3 needs to be baby sat in a dorm room.  There’s no arguing….believe me I’ve tried. 

In the civilian world, you’d probably laugh at your 19 year old college girlfriends getting ready to be married after their second semester of sophomore year.  You’d question how they’d pay for school, pay rent, finish school, and work out all the details.  My guess is parents wouldn’t CELEBRATE the marriage, but suggest one waits until things are more “stable,” e.g. full time job, a place to live, no more school, etc., etc.  The military enables a culture where marriage is seen as purely beneficial.  You get to move off-base, have the government pay for it, get more BAS paid to you, and possibly separation pay.  What 18 year old in LOVE wouldn’t want that?  It’s TOO easy to play house.  You don’t have to worry about affordable housing, because it’s PROVIDED to you.  Only one income for your family?  No problem, the government still gives you enough dollars to make sure the both of you can eat.  My point is, I could go out and get married tomorrow and move off base or be provided something more comfortable than a horrible dorm room.  

And for those who think dorm life in college wasn’t all that bad.  You are wrong.  I live with the Army.  As in the Army that has keg parties on the nightly based on their work shifts and smell.  Badly.  It reeks everywhere.  There is one kitchen for 72 of us dwelling in this building.  ONE stove, 4 burners.  For 72 people.  I have to wash dishes in the same sink I brush my teeth in and I often ponder would my dish rack look better on the nightstand by my bed or the vanity by the sink?  

In the civilian world, especially in an entry level job, your boss probably has more education or professional experience than you.  So, my psychology people, your supervisor probably has an LPC or LMHC, LMFT, whatever, showing that they have professional experience and a license and have also somehow managed to maneuver the crazy of the mental health field.  With continuing education courses, various certifications, etc, their competency is usually established.  The military has that too, in the form of CDCs and skill level.  But my “boss” isn’t necessarily college educated, older than me, or even willing to be a mentor/supportive supervisor or capable of helping me reach my professional goals (not that all civilians are like that).  In fact, my boss is determined by the number of stripes on their sleeves, which, some may argue is a valid justification of earned advancement.  But truthfully, if you can take a test well, you can make it to the NCO tier fairly easily.  And if not, you get to an E-4 no matter what based on time in service, which means I still have to do what you say, regardless of how dumb you are.  But making it to an E-5 doesn’t make you any more capable to SUPERVISE people or any less of a douche-bag.  It means you had some decent EPRs and can test.  And if you’re in my situation, there are some things that I might NEVER be able to fully put on my EPR (military resume/brag sheets) because the categories don’t fit.  Prime example: Education.  What are five things that I’ve done to advance my education.  Well…I submitted my transcripts from my Bachelor’s and Master’s to make sure they all transfer so I can get my coveted Community College of the Air Forge Degree.  That’s one.  There’s not much else I can do, because guess what, while everyone else is earning free Bachelor’s and Master’s (if they have the drive and determination to do it), I get screwed, because Uncle Sam has decided I don’t get tuition assistance because I’m TOO educated.  Yep, even in the “smartest branch” I get screwed…FOR BEING SMART.  

My point is, there’s nothing else I can really do about all of this except laugh. And if you’re not on the “in” or been exposed to the ridiculousness of the military, you might not “get it.”  Just lemme have my laughs, because that’s the only way through this all.  Until I’m the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, my hands are tied.  

Thanks,

Military Mel (Civilian, Retired)

Five Years Time

Senior Dinner, May 2007

Noah and the Whale has a bomb song called Five Years Time.  It’s been five years since my graduation from Hiram College.  They have simultaneously been the best of times and the worst of times.

Tomorrow is my reunion.  I hate these things.  It’s like a real-life opportunity to validate your fake Facebook “my life is wonderful and way better than is really is.”  You don’t have to fool anyone.  I want to meet the mid-20s something who hasn’t had difficulty with a job or interpersonal relationship.  I want to meet the 20s something who hasn’t felt as if they were wavering somewhere between small child and supposed adult with adult responsibilities. I want to meet the 20s something whose career objectives have gone as planned and they are now working their dream jobs.  Truthfully, is anyone really out there?

I’m sort of dreading the question: so what have you been up to?  Why?  Because when I sat back and reflected on it, I realized just how much I’ve been up to in five years.  And if this is just the first five years of my so-called adult life, I’ll gladly take the good and bad and look forward to the next phases of my life with excitement.

Niagara Falls, 2012 (Team FREEDOM)

In five years I’ve done some crazy stuff.  I’ve gotten engaged and left at that altar.  I was the 99% and then the 1%.  I was under-qualified and over-qualified for jobs.  I had three full-time job offers at once and then applied to 350 jobs without a full-time offer.  I went to graduate school expecting to help change the world and “help people” and realized there were multiple other avenues to fulfill the same purpose.  I worked for the VA and one day I’ll get healthcare from there.  I lived in Syracuse, NY for 2.5 years and lived in 6 different places.  I was published.  I parished.  I went up six dress sizes and then down to one size below what I was in college.  I dreaded running a mile and now I’m training to run 26.2.  I became an Iron Girl.  I finished two half-marathons.  I’ve lived in four states.  I’ve hated myself and loved myself.  I’ve volunteered more hours that my spreadsheets and keep track of.  I hated God and loved Him again. I learned to love to be single.  I had nothing and now I have the world in my hands.  Yes, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  It’s builds character equity.

So here’s to the next five years.  I hope they are just as eventful as these.

Giving up on Fear

I had decided to give up fear for Lent, based on a challenge issued by Regina Brett, award-winning columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and a New York Times Best Selling Author.  Giving up on fear.  It sounds like a mighty task.  I mean, people have a fear of walking across the street, a fear of spiders, and fear they are met with every day of the week.  How do you just give it up, when in reality, fear is what has been holding us all back for so long.  Fears inhibit growth, allow for settling for a minimum, and a potential to miss out on amazing opportunities in life.  Fear inhibits people from applying for a job, school, or asking someone out.

These past 6 weeks I found myself inhibited by fear.  And not in a good way.  With the variety of challenges I find at Goodfellow High, I found it far to easy to sit and be annoyed than go out and do things I really enjoyed doing in my civilian life, as an undergraduate and graduate student and a young professional.  So, for six weeks I made a conscious effort to pursue things outside of my comfort zone.  And in six weeks I have accomplished so much, and started to conquer my biggest fear – this hierarchical structure and beast called the military.

I’ll preface by  saying maybe now that I’m a short four months into my military career, it’s just really hard for me to see that “that’s how the military does it,” because really it’s like most of my real life experiences, except people my age are Tech Sergeants without college degrees instead of A1Cs with Master’s degrees.  But I had all this preconceived notions, and many are panning out to be different from what I had expected.  Another major fear I had was that my “civilian” Melissa wouldn’t transfer into the mold needed for A1C Melissa.  After basic, I didn’t really feel like I lost any part of who I was or whatever, just regressed a few rings on the social ladder since it’s really hard to find peers my age.  But I’m still sarcastic, witty, intelligent, positive, brutally honest, and workout-aholic me.  So the fear of losing who I had worked so hard to recreate after my year of loss wasn’t really valid anymore.

In six weeks, I’ve accomplished a lot.  And I’m glad I did (yet exhausted by doing so).

White Rope – Chapel liaison OJT, Sunday School Teacher, Usher at Church, Crossroads Volunteer

Green Rope – Airman Leader

Students Against Sexual Harassment and Assault Volunteer (perhaps the best compliment was random strangers telling me that I’m one of the few qualified to be a volunteer – that means a lot to be recognized by peers as one to handle a position of confidence)

Habitat for Humanity Volunteer

Railway Museum Volunteer

Bluegrass Festival Volunteer

5K Winner for my Age Group 🙂

And keeping a 92+% average in my class

 

Yes friends, giving up fear is a great thing.  And truthfully, the only thing we really do fear is the fears created in our heads.  And we are the only ones who have the power to conquer those.