Crap Week

Grit is something we military spouses have in spades, whether we want it or not.

Facing another deployment, I’m finding that they never get easier. It’s so easy to talk about deployments in abstract terms when living shore duty life. We make plans and assure ourselves that the kids will be fine, we’ll get through it, no biggie. We’ve done it before.  Then promptly push the thought immediately out of our minds because we know the time will come and it’s just too damn hard to think about, so we put the thought in the “later” box.

Later is now and the box is being ripped open.

The platitudes of “you just get stronger” sound hollow and tinny. I’ve written about the positives of deployment and the first time experience with kids, but I am smack dab in the middle of crap week (the week right before they leave where life just sucks because you know the painful “fair winds” and “see you soons” are merely days away and you keep trying not to think about it, but you can’t and did I mention it sucks?) and I don’t feel very positive.

So I’m riding the crap wave. It looks like this:

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I will get back to the pulling up my big girl britches, but right now they are scratchy and chafing.

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In an effort to feel the feels and just get through it, (as opposed to stuffing feelings and numbing out, neither of which are helpful in the long term) I made a sappy playlist. Music is therapy in many ways and why not just wallow in the awfulness for just a bit? Then I get sick of my sad self and move on with said big girl britches firmly in place. Here’s what I got:

  • Tonight I Wanna Cry – Keith Urban
  • Come Home Soon – SheDaisy
  • I Have Nothing – Whitney Houston
  • Never Tear Us Apart – INXS
  • Stay – Sugarland
  • Stay With Me – Sam Smith
  • Hurts – Emile Sande
  • Everybody Hurts – REM
  • Hearts a Mess – Goyte
  • Ship to Wreck – Florence + the Machine
  • I Can’t Stop Thinking About You – Sting
  • Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor
  • As Long As You Love Me – Justin Bieber
  • All I Want to Do – Sugarland
  • Can I Be With You – Todd Agnew
  • I Try – Macy Gray
  • A Little More – Machine Gun Kelly
  • Lose Yourself – Eminem
  • Shatter Me – Lindsey Stirling
  • Praying – Ke$ha
  • Take U There – Skrillex & Diplo
  • Shake it Out – Florence + the Machine
  • Rise Up – Imagine Dragons
  • Rise – Eddie Vedder
  • Faith – George Michael
  • You are the Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne
  • Circles – I see MONSTAS
  • Bird Set Free – Sia
  • Alive – Sia
  • Help Me Run Away – St. Lucia
  • Whatever It Takes – Imagine Dragons
  • (I like it When You) Smile – Harry Connick, Jr.
  • It’s a Great Day to Be Alive – Travis Tritt
  • Lay Down and Dance – Garth Brooks
  • Unstoppable – The Score

Yeah, there are some gems and guilty pleasures in there. What songs would you add to a sad therapy playlist? What helps you get through deployments and the crappy transitions weeks just before departure?

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Quality Country?

You know when you hear a song so great, you have one of those transcendent moments where either the lyrics resonate so deeply you wonder if the writer took the thoughts out of your life, or the melody just makes you want to get up and dance?!

I miss those songs.

I grew up with all sorts of musical influences; rock, rap, country, pop, R&B, hip hop, oldies, and even classical. My mom and I used to dance around the kitchen singing the soundtrack to West Side Story. I can appreciate music in all genres, but country was what we listened to most, and preferred, when I was in high school. My husband and I met at a country dance. Over the past decade or so, I see in country music a shift from a story-song, to more “party songs”, which are fine, I guess, but not my cup of tea. (Or solo cup of beer, as it were.)

Over the last 5-6 years, I found that dance, pop, rap, and some alternative music was better suited to running and working out. Most music I listen to while exercising has faster beats per minute and have an uplifting or “getting after it” message. (Think Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”, The Hours’ “Ali in the Jungle”, and “Am I Wrong” by Nico & Vinz) I need a song that says SOMETHING.

Country doesn’t say much lately. How about a song that says ANYTHING but the tired message of “Get a hot chick in my truck, drink, and have a party.” Perhaps I’m just getting old and I’m past that phase. Driving across the country, I got tired of my own playlists and regularly surfed whatever I could tune on the dial. (Okay, it’s not a dial anymore – it’s a digital button, whatever.) The only thing I could find were songs about partying and trucks and a “good time”. Okay. Fine. But is that ALL? What happened to the story songs? Chris LeDoux, Reba, Conway, Alan Jackson, and even Garth Brooks seemed to be unavailable. Say what you will about the Dixie Chicks, at least they had their own sound and a story to tell. There were a few plays of Tim McGraw and King George, but it was few and far between. All the other songs sounded the same. All the male singers sounded alike, and all the female singers sounded like copies of Carrie Underwood. I just wasn’t impressed.

I came across this today:

Apparently I am not alone.

I am much more inspired by artists who can express more than one mood, elicit more than one feeling. As a writer, I naturally gravitate toward the lyrics as opposed to the melody and beat, so a song has to make me feel something. Or think. ANYTHING but the same old, same old.

What music moves you? What songs do you gravitate toward? Lyrics or melody more important?

Deep Cuts (And some not so….)

After getting my morning cup o’ joe and catching Billy Joel on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Hannah came bounding in the kitchen in her golden tutu, daddy’s white tube socks (because they make her twirl better), and a shiny gold ballet costume declaring that she needed to dance! We shucked and jived through Jimmy and Billy’s duet of You May Be Right in our living room and over breakfast, it occurred to me just how much music she has yet to discover.

The kids’ current favorites are typical kid songs (Jesus Loves Me, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, etc.) and a few like Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours, and of course the Frozen soundtrack is huge right now. They only know some music because of movies. (They associate AC/DC Back in Black with Megamind. Don’t judge.) But what about the essentials? We would be doing our kids a huge disservice if we didn’t, at the very least, expose them music outside of pop radio. (How many times do we really need to hear the SAME song!?)

Here in no particular order (and by no means a complete list) is what I compiled in the 10 minutes allotted by my 3-year-old because she “just couldn’t wait any longer!”

  • Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
  • Tell Her About It/It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me – Billy Joel
  • Tiny Dancer – Elton John (After Friends, it’s so hard to not say “Tony Danza” in my head. Thank you Phoebe!)
  • American Pie – Don McLean
  • Elvis Presley
  • The Beatles
  • Beat It – Michael Jackson
  • Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder
  • Mr. Tambourine Man – Bob Dylan
  • Layla – Eric Clapton
  • Education – Pink Floyd
  • James Taylor
  • George Strait
  • Adele
  • Neil Diamond
  • Etta James
  • Aerosmith
  • Musical Soundtracks: Grease, West Side Story, and The Sound of Music
  • The Police
  • Stand/Everybody Hurts – R.E.M.
  • U2
  • Rainy Night in Georgia (I really like the version from Conway Twitty and Sam Moore)

What would you have on your “essentials I must pass to my kids” list?

Music…and a New Adventure

For the past month or so, I’ve been slightly freaking out. Going about the daily routines; taking care of minions, grocery shopping, laundry, etc., but just underneath the surface: freak out central.

Not life or death freak out, but first-job-in-six-years kind of freak out. I accepted the spin instructor position at a local gym and my first class is tomorrow.

Gulp.

I’ve seriously changed my playlist of 14 songs 87 times. I hear music differently now. I mentally decide if the song I hear on the radio would make a good spin song.  While in the car driving, I cue pretend spinners in my imagination. Out loud. My kids have decided that I’m nuts. I’m sure that opinion will stick when they hit 12. Whatever.

A recent WordPress weekly prompt was to write about music. A favorite song, why certain lyrics speak to us, what our life’s theme song would be – all viable topics. My question is how the heck could you narrow any of those down to one song? Like most people, music is more than just noise in the background in my world. Our iTunes library is filled with “please don’t judge me” songs as well as Top 40. Every genre, multiple decades, with both the hubs’ and my tastes thrown in for good musical fun. He’s more of a beat and instrument guy. He loves the intros and the guitar solos. As a writer, it’s not surprising that the lyrics are what speak to me.

Now for the first time, I’m really hearing beats per minute, phrasing, and how that translates to a good spin class. As I crafted (and re-crafted, and crafted again) this playlist for my first class I listened to my favorites, had help from friends, and had to weed them down. As I look over this list now, it’s not surprising how this list speaks to me.

1. It’s Time – Imagine Dragons

Not only a great song for a warm up, great lyrics. I love that it’s (finally) time for me to put this certification and the studying to good use! And to quote another instructor friend who told me “it’s about damn time!”

2. Ali in The Jungle – The Hours

The lyrics in this track are superb for working out. Introduced to me by my neighbor on Oahu, this song reminds me of her and her determination to get healthy despite being in the middle of a long deployment with 4 kiddos. It isn’t easy, but as the lyrics say, “Everybody gets knocked down, but how quick are you gonna get up?” Love.

3. Sail – Awolnation

This one reminds me of my favorite trainer. Not only did she help me in so many ways, but she introduced me to all kinds of music that I never would have considered otherwise.  And every time I hear this song, I can almost feel the Hawaiian breeze blow across my sweat soaked-skin as I panted in relief that I had survived another one of her killer workouts.

4. Crabbuckit – K-Os

When I first heard this peppy little tune, Eric was deployed and I heard it come on the radio. Done with sappy sad songs, I was ready for this one and immediately thought it would be good for some jumps on a spin bike!

5. Dynamite – Taio Cruz

The perfect party song, but also a great running song. This one is always on my running playlist, and I had to include it in my first class. Perfect for a 5:30 a.m. class to get us all up and at ’em!

6. Everybody Talks – Neon Trees

Not a great thinker in terms of lyrics, but I like it and it works good for spin. It just sounds “happy”.

7. Money Make Her Smile – Bruno Mars

I love Bruno. Every single song. LOVE. That is all.

8. Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself) – Ne-Yo

When you’ve been believed in by someone who sees your potential before you do – that’s magic. That’s what I take from this song.

9. Give In To Me – Michael Jackson

For all of us growing up 80’s, Michael Jackson typifies the decade, among other things. Not only was this my favorite song when I first started going to spin, but I remember much of my struggling in that first spin class. Pushing beyond what I thought I was capable of. It was time to “give in” to the process and trust that I was going in exactly the right direction!

10. China Grove – Doobie Brothers

The first time I heard this song in a spin class, you could just feel everyone smile with recognition. I love a song that EVERYONE knows.

11. Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi

Oh Bon Jovi. I remember watching him on MTV, rockin’ out with my hairbrush microphone and my mile-high bangs. Good times. And it works for spin – bonus!

12. Shake it Out – Florence and the Machine

This song made me cry when my friend Katy sent me her spin playlist. At the time she had just started teaching, Eric was deployed and I remember it was a rough week. I had put the kids to bed, plugged in her playlist and imagined myself halfway around the world in her spin class. When this song came on it was a sort of release of knowing the end of the deployment was in sight, I was shaking it all off, all the tired, all the stress, and just trying to get back to myself. Tomorrow I will imagine her smiling at me in the back of my first class.

13. Red Hands – Walk Off the Earth

This song reminds me of endings. Ends of relationships. Ends of struggles and sad goodbyes. Goodbyes are hard, but out of them can come tremendous growth.  A tad melancholy, but makes for a great cool-down!

14. Home – Phillip Phillips

I love the beat of this song. I love the lyrics about making this place your home. As a military family – wherever we go is home. “Pay no mind to those demons they fill you with fear” speaks right to the whole Brene Brown and Daring Greatly thing. I have a feeling that spin may be my home away from home.

So there it is. Tomorrow morning me and a few friends will be spinning our hearts out. May I not puke, faint, or fall off a stationary bike as I did so gracefully in my dream nightmare last night.

Earning It

It really doesn’t matter what I’ve done in the past. What am I doing right NOW to accomplish goals (fitness and otherwise)?

Yes, I am proud of losing weight and running marathons. But, do I really want to be the chick that one time WAS fit and USED to run a decade ago?

Hell no.

This song is on my running playlist for a reason:

It’s, not, where you are, It’s where you’re going,
Where are you going?
And it’s, not, about the things you’ve done, it’s what you’re doing, now,
What are you doing, now?

Everybody gets knocked down,
Everybody gets knocked down,
How quick are you gonna’ get up?
How quick are you gonna’ get up, now?
Everybody gets knocked down,
Everybody gets knocked down,
How quick are you gonna’ get up?
Just how are you gonna’ get up?

The same friend that turned me on to this song has a group page on Facebook called This Strong Body. It’s a group of likeminded folks who are in all stages of their fitness journeys who come to the page for support, advice, and ideas for healthy living and clean eating. It’s also been a great source of accountability.  (Please check out the page on Facebook!)

I mean, really. Who can sit on the couch eating crap wearing this?

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I am at it again. I am working out. I am running. I am moving. I am fueling my body consistently with whole foods. It’s time for this strong body to earn it again!

I Am Woman…..

I’m always amazed when I do something I thought I couldn’t do, or was impossible.
Marathons, losing weight yes, but even little things. Like when I was in high school and I had my first car (89 Dodge Colt). I had a tail light that burnt out. I thought about waiting until my dad got home from work and asking him to fix it. Then I thought – well, it’s probably just a couple of screws or something and a light bulb…I know how to operate a screwdriver. (And yes, I can screw in a lightbulb!)
So I set about doing it myself. I’m sure I messed up and took something apart that didn’t need to be disassembled, but in the end I did do it. I remember the pride and the anticipation I felt as I couldn’t WAIT to tell my dad I had done it myself!  Car things always make me a little wary. I still don’t understand exactly how all the parts of a gas engine work. I know I need to make sure I have gas and oil and my fluids filled. I can change a tire if I need to. I am not an electrician. I’m not a mechanic.
For the past couple of months, we’ve had the same CD stuck in our car stereo.  My CD player likes to eat CDs apparently. It wouldn’t eject no matter how many times I tried.  (Yes, I know – first world problem! Smh….) Anyhoo, it’s a kid music CD which was just about to drive me over the edge. I can only listen to “John Jacob Jingle-Heimer-Schmidt” about 10,000 times before sticking a fork in my eye. We were on 9,997.
So I asked my cousin (who IS in fact a car guy) to get it unstuck. By this time Hannah had been left unattended to play in the car a bit and she had jammed a second CD in there. Yeah. So my cousin got it unstuck for me and we went merrily on our way.
The very next CD we put in there (YES, It WAS John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt on a different disc!) got stuck. UGH! But, since I had watched my cousin disassemble the radio (and I felt like a dork having to ask AGAIN to assist) I got out some needle nose pliers, the crescent wrench and a couple of screwdrivers and got to work on getting that dang CD out on my own.
And I did it! The CD, however, did not survive. (No, I did not have a funeral. I would have broke it on ‘accident’ if it hadn’t been destroyed during Extraction 2012.) Now, however, the stereo wouldn’t even take a CD. (Yes, I tried.)  We then drove for a couple of weeks with just the radio. I was thrilled to be rid of the kid music, but Jake and Hannah did not share my excitement. Go figure. Every time we got in the car, the idea of fixing the car myself jumped to my mind. Could I? Nah…I can survive without a CD player until Eric gets back. Or I can have my dad or cousin look at it. Did I mention that I “lost” 2 mini crescent wrenches beneath the console during Extraction 2012? Oh, yeah. My fumble fingers dropped the little bugger. So I got the next sized wrench and promptly did it again! So now not only was the CD player not working, but I had to go fishing for two tiny wrenches. Okay, time to call Eric.
So he mentioned some crazy words like “splicing” and “dash filler” and some other gobbledy-gook. I kind of tuned him out after splicing. Have I not mentioned that I am not an electrician? The little bit I remember from 8th grade technology and my dad building and wiring houses would probably not help me in this venture….
I called O’Reilly’s in Burlington (BIG shout out to them! The guy helping me WAS AWESOME and didn’t make me feel like a complete idiot!) and asked about a conversion kit or whatever it was that Eric had told me on the phone to ask for. They didn’t have what I needed, but he called the local Mobile Music (also great service) and had them set a kit aside for me. I ran over (after a pooptastrophy of course – because what adventure would be complete with out someone pooping their pants?!)
Home we go with the kit. I am getting excited thinking, Yeah, I can do this. Its just a couple of screws. I got it. Then I opened the kit and there they were….loose wires. Crap. I thought it was going to be a connector plug that would connect the car’s wires to the CD players without me having to do anything.
Off comes the dash….
Ugh – they don’t match!
SERIOUSLY?!!??
Again I peered into Eric’s tool box and looked around to see if anything sparked my memory on how to go about this. I also looked at what was in the new stereo’s box, the instructions with the conversion kit….wrench, check. Wire cutters, yep. Oh….Eric DOES have the little connectors. And yep – this wire cutter is outfitted with a crimper….hmmmm…..
The instructions instructed me to tape off the wires that didn’t match with the other side, so I did that. (After finding Eric’s electrician’s tape). I spliced, crimped, reassembled, and reconnected!!!

I DID IT!!

 

(And I haven’t been electrocuted yet!!)
While I won’t be opening up my own car stereo installation business anytime soon, I have to say – I’m pretty darn proud of my skills! And now, not only do we get to play CDs, I can also plug the auxiliary jack in to my phone and listen to my music that way without having to burn new CDs all the time! YAHOO!
And, of course while I wish Eric was home to do these kinds of tasks…I’m always proud of myself for doing what I didn’t think I could. (Insert self-back pat here.)
I am woman – hear me roar.
Or at least hear John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt blasting out of my car!

More Deployment Positives

As I am getting along and finding my groove with the kiddos, I keep thinking of the positives of deployment and more and more are cropping up. I love how no matter what a person looks for – they will find it. If I am looking for the positives or the negatives of a situation – I will find it. It really is about direction of focus.

So here are my additions to the positives of a deployment:

Military movies! 

I love a good military movie whether Eric is home or not. I love to ask him all kinds of questions about the authenticity of the uniforms, the filming locations, etc. He laughs and usually rolls his eyes reminding me that it’s Hollywood, and not real but I still think it’s fun. Military movies help me to feel closer to him when he’s far away. My favorites include:

Top Gun (Hello beach volleyball scene?!)
Men of Honor (Cuba Gooding Jr. and Robert DeNiro – need I say more?)
Pearl Harbor – Total chick flick, and I dig it! Plus having lived there, it’s fun to see our stomping grounds!
Officer and a Gentleman – An oldie but a goodie. I also like that it was filmed in the pacific northwest!
Antoine Fisher – Kind of a sad/dark movie, but anything with Denzel Washington in khakis is alright by me!

 
Random Back Burner Projects Get Attention

Little projects and things I like to do that I rarely have time for now can get done. Such hobbies/tasks include scrap booking, keeping up with the kids’ baby books, reorganizing the files (I love my label maker and rarely get any quality time with it!), reading, deep cleaning (I seriously need a 12 step program), blogging, writing, and trying out adventurous recipes!

Reading Books!!


I LOVE to read (as well as write!) and my Kindle makes it so convenient especially when I usually read in bed before I fall asleep. I’m currently reading The Black Stallion. I’ve never read it. It’s quite good so far. Some of my other recent reads include:

Three Weeks With My Brother by Nicholas Sparks. Seriously anything by this author is sure to elicit a sob fest!
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I had to jump on the bandwagon and see what all the fuss was about. Very interesting, an original storyline if a bit on the dark side.
Born To Run by Christopher Mcdougall. A must read for all runners!
Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat by Jeff Benedict. So amazing! Also interesting because this outbreak was HUGE in the pacific northwest at the time it occurred. I also love anything on this subject by Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan. Also check out Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. I read this in high school and it forever changed the way I look at food and I credit it with starting this journey with food and how to eat healthier.
Bossypants by Tina Fey. Just good brain candy!
The Shack by William P Young LOVE LOVE LOVED reading this book! I cannot tell you anything about it because it would give away some of the plot – just a must read!

Sappy Music

I love a good cornball song as much as the next person. (Okay, maybe a bit MORE!) And when Eric is away, I do really love the songs with a patriotic twist. Here are some of my standbys to belt out in the car:
Adele – Anything she does is amazing!
Martina McBride – Anyway, Independence Day
Travis Tritt – Anymore
Brad Paisley – Remind Me
Toby Keith – American Soldier
Reba/Faith Hill – Sleeping with the Telephone (SOB FEST!)
John Michael Montgomery – Letters From War
Mariah Carey – Hero

New Friends

I’m always proud when people stop Eric and thank him for his service, and I’ve even been thanked too (totally made me cry!) but I love the little gestures and kind words my neighbors have offered. More than a few have offered to lend a hand if we need it. I love that!

We were even invited over for dinner the other night by a neighbor! The old me would have probably just stuck close to home and politely declined or made an excuse not to go out of fear, having to be social – what if they don’t like me? Ugh. All of those insecurities.

Since I am no longer the old me – I went.

And had a blast! This neighbor also invited another friend and her 3 daughters. It was so much fun getting to know these two ladies and then the opportunity to share this past year’s fitness journey presented itself. It was amazing as I watched their eyes fill with tears as I spoke – I realized that this whole process for me was about more than just miles and marathons and pounds lost. It has been about getting comfortable (and liking) who I am as a person, in my own skin. And then come to find out, one of these ladies has also done triathlons!! (Which is my goal for next year!) Oh – and she knows my sister! What a small world – and so cool how the evening unfolded.

And I would have missed out on all of this had I been too afraid to step out of my comfort zone. While I am so thankful for my physical strength, my smaller size and the “fun” side of losing weight – I am SO much more grateful for the things the fitness “vehicle” has brought me to: cherished friendships, amazing experiences, testing my mental and physical limits (and SUCCEEDING!) and a loss of FEAR.

And that brings me back to this whole deployment stuff….I will not be afraid. There are just far too many positives to waste any time being afraid.

Bring it!