Blue Space

Texas sure knows how to do thunder.

And lightening.

Sitting in the car while big ‘ole fat rain pounded on the roof, I reached over to grab my phone. In line for school pick up, Facebook and a smartphone provide ample entertainment and distraction. (Yes, I was parked. No, I do not look at my phone while driving.) This time, I reached into my purse only to realize I’d left it in my work bag. At home. “That’s okay,” I thought to myself. “I’ll use this time to read my book.”

Yep, left that at home, too.

I had to just sit. And wait. The school pick up line requires about 30 minutes of waiting time, more if you arrive early to be near the start of the line. I looked out the window and admired the bright bolts streaking against the clouds while the booms shook the car. There isn’t really anything quite like a real thunderstorm.

This date makes many of us reflective, myself included. I’ve written about 9/11. It’s been 14 years. Fourteen. Looking up at the clouds, I saw a tiny circle of blue in the middle of all the ominously gray and black clouds. Reminded of a quote my niece shared recently, I forgot all about the phone and book I had neglected to bring.

“Think about the eye of a hurricane, or the calm still center of a cyclone. No matter how intense the storm or what’s swept up in its gale-force winds, that calm, blue center is always there. This is the metaphor I like to use when talking about the space between stimulus and response. We all have this quiet center within us. Mindfulness reconnects us to this center space, where we fully experience the present moment and have access to the transcendent wisdom that’s often associated with conscious flow. In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, neurologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl famously described it this way: ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. – George Mumford, The Mindful Athlete

It has been a while since I’ve just been. To pray something more than, ‘Oh give me strength to get through this day,’ ‘I need more patience with the kids,’ or ‘Help me say the right words, be more kind, do well at my job etc.’ -type of prayers, to just sit in the ‘blue space’ and be. And ask for nothing.

I thought about the friend of a friend whose baby is battling cancer. Cancer. A 1 year old. ‘How does she pray?’ I found myself wondering.  In the blue space, I found myself not only saying a prayer for her and her sweet babe, but saying thank you. Thank you that my children are healthy.

I have a client who is paralyzed from the waist down. She comes in to workout, and she works hard. Not only the physical aspects of lifting weight and doing exercises, but she works hard at ignoring the pitying glances. She doesn’t want or need pity. She’s just there to do her work. She has goals to walk again. She has hope. I find myself thinking of her and her strength. What it takes to even get to the gym, let alone battle the stares once she arrives. In that blue space, I am thankful for a body that does what I need it to do and then some. I get to run for fun. I can go to whatever store or restaurant I want to and not think about what the infrastructure will be like and will it accommodate a wheelchair. 

I get to work with people. People who want and need help. I have met some incredible folks who humble me on multiple levels. People who are dealing with some crazy-hard life stuff. But while dealing with what life has thrown at them, they continue to show up. They continue to have hope. To be brave. Had I not said, “Yes,” to invitations, had I been too afraid to step outside of my comfort zone time after time, my life would be entirely different. I am so grateful for the yes; even to the scary stuff. Because of the yes, I now get a daily front row view of bravery and hope in action.

On days like today, it’s easy for me to get swept into the heavy heart stuff. In the blue space thinking about the last year, as well the day fourteen years ago, I find myself unable to say anything other than thank you. 

Thank you.

I’m so glad I forgot my phone. I needed some time in the blue space.

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Safari Fun – Texas Style

Now that the house is getting somewhat assembled, we decided to get out and do something. We went to San Antonio to check out this:

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We got to see all sorts of creatures – and they came right up to our car door!

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EXCITED! “They are so close, Mom!”
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Inspecting and dividing up the animal food pellets.
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Why the long face?
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We saw an ACTUAL Texas long horn! (They are so huge!)
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Everything really is bigger in Texas!
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Hello friend! I wanted to reach out and scratch his chinny-chin-chin!
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Twin giraffes!
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ZEBRA!
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I talked to this guy. He looked at me like I was nuts. Nothing like being made to feel stupid. You know, by a bird.
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“Humps are what camels are made of!” – Jacob

Hannah said “OOOH OOH OOOH! Mom look!!!” about 5000 times. Jacob laughed at the funny looking animals for about 5 minutes into the tour, then promptly wanted to go to the gift shop. Hannah said the “drive” around the park was too long. When we exited, she cried saying she wanted to go again.

Go figure.

Perhaps Natural Bridge Wildlife would like to accept two new rare breeds to their menagerie. I’m thinking they don’t have anything as wild as rug rats…

Welcome to My Nightmare

I took the minions to the base pool yesterday. It was sunny and wonderful and hot! The pool felt amazing!

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This kiddie pool was HUGE! The kids loved it!

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They even have a little tube slide that shoots them into the big pool. (You’ll forgive the lack of pictures as I was playing “catcher’ when they came flying down!) We swam the length of the pool, went down the slide, and floated, played motor boat, blew bubbles, and all the water fun we could come up with. Then they suggested “Humpty Dumpty”.  This is where they sit on the side of the pool and we sing, “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great faaaaaaal!” and you pop the minion from the side and splash them down into the water. Okay. So off to the side I go, while they swim to the stairs leading out of the pool to sit on the side. I went to reach up to Hannah and I am nose to nose with a cockroach in the pool gutter.

I, of course, let out some kind of freakish terror-filled guttural moan followed by a scream to which the lifeguard looked at me questioningly. While running backward (read: stumbling and trying not to drown) in the water, I pointed and mouthed the word ‘cockroach’ as I pointed to the side of the pool where it walked along the edge, completely unfazed by my horror and outright panic.

The lady lifeguard took matters into her own hands. Well, she called someone over to take matters into someone’s hands. This big lifeguard dude came over, snapping on a surgical latex glove. He laid on the concrete, draped his burley arm over the side and karate-chopped the vermin. He then deftly scooped up the carcass, and carried it to it’s final resting place. While overwhelmed with gratitude, I may have clapped. I’m sure he thought I was a lunatic. My relief outweighed any sense of cool I had left.

I realize we live in Texas. I realize that bugs, like cockroaches, thrive in warmer climates. I also know that “everything is bigger in Texas”. The bugs are no exception.  I was stumbling in the dark to make some coffee this morning, I flipped on the microwave light to see a roach scurry across the kitchenette stove top. Again with the shudder, the moans, the general freakout as I hopped barefoot back on to the bed and scrambled to my phone to type a hasty text to Eric who had already left this morning: IMG_6892

I went to the front desk. As she said she would let housekeeping know, I think she was trying not to laugh at me.  I don’t care. You think I’m a pansy, a wimp, whatever who can’t deal with bugs? Okay. Yup. That’s me. Sue me. Just come kill my bugs first.

As I type this, I am cowering and trembling with dread sitting on the bed with the kiddos waiting for housekeeping to arrive. It’s been about an hour. I refuse to go back into the kitchen. I think I’ll be throwing on a ball cap and taking the kids OUT for breakfast. And perhaps lunch. This must be what it felt like for ocean swimmers after seeing Jaws.

I think I’m gonna need more than a bigger boat.

First Run

Last night I ran my first run in Texas. When I asked my husband (who had been here previously to scout out housing) what it was like, he said, “It’s flat and brown.”

Man does he have a way with words, or what?!

I was running on base around sunset and found a track, right by the golf course. From the lodge where we are staying, it was exactly 1 mile to the track. When I started running I saw all kinds of critters, herons, gulls, and what can only be described as a herd of these guys:

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They were running and jumping all along the fairway. And the birds where fighting these guys (prairie dogs) for a bite to eat:

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The fiery orange sun was just setting between the palm trees in the distance and there weren’t many other runners using the track. A mile and half in, I looked up and saw another runner and did my usual nod and wave, to which he looked at me, looked away and didn’t acknowledge at all. Seriously?! Where’s the southern hospitality? The unity of runners? Holy balls we are out here together, covered in a suffocating blanket of humidity and sweat, and you can’t manage a nod of the head?! Nice. Stay Classy NAS Corpus. We were running opposite directions so every lap, we would meet again for an awkward stride where no one said anything. I wanted to laugh out loud. Or pull a Jerry Maguire flip out:

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Or dance around spontaneously:

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After 3 laps, he was gone anyway. Bummer he missed out on my moves…cause I would’ve busted them out by the 4th lap! Then there came another runner who made me look like I was standing still. His legs came up to my shoulder. One stride of his was like 5 of mine. At least he did the courtesy smile/nod/wave. It was probably a pity wave; “Oh, look at that girl trying to run! Bless her heart!” (If you aren’t familiar with the phrase “bless your heart”, it’s a southern way of being slightly condescending or it can be an outright put down.)

As you can see by my crazy description, I see Texas as more than just “flat and brown”. That’s the beauty of running. You can take the time to notice the world around you, and see the things you wouldn’t see while driving. There is such beauty here, and I get why people love it so much.

As a runner, do you wave and nod? Ever held your hand up and got a high five? I’m dying for one of those! If you see me running – please high-five me! If you hold up your hand, I promise not to leave you hanging!

Life in the Lodge

Well, my meltdown/culture shock phase of this move is winding down. We’ve spent the last week looking at houses and rentals and have decided to purchase this time around.

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EEEK! I am so excited! Can’t wait until move in day!

 

We have about 2 weeks until it’s all ready for us. We are also getting geared up for school registration! (Yeah, that sentence made me throw up a little!)  In the meantime, we are living in the interim at the Navy Lodge.

Ahh, life at the lodge.

There is much to be irritated about when you are living out of suitcases; most of your earthly belongings are in a warehouse somewhere, lodge kitchenettes are TINY,  etc. What I do love about this phase of a PCS move is that there isn’t a lot to do, and it’s okay to sort of just hang out and be.

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We’ve been playing lots of games such as Old Maid, War, Slap Jack, and we attempted Crazy 8s, but, to quote Jake, it was a bit “too long and too boring”. We are good with Sorry! and I have a few books we’ve read, not to mention the iPads have been lifesavers, especially while driving all around a new town trying to find a place to live.

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We’ve also discovered that with life in Texas, we have to get in our outside time either in small doses, first thing in the morning, or at dusk. It is HOT, and our Washington bodies need just a little while longer to acclimate. But this morning when I walked out at 86 degrees, I thought it felt good, so we may be getting there sooner rather than later!

We’ve also encountered some neighborhood kids, one of which was about Jacob’s age and they had a muscle inspection the other night. (Muscle inspection = each one flexing and asserting (read: SHOUTING!) that “I have HUGE muscles”!) Following the showing of their ‘guns’, they proceeded to have bike races and then a great game of hide and seek with Hannah. Poor girl hid in a great spot, but immediately discovered the wonder of fire ants. Welcome to Texas!

Until our new home is complete, I’m trying to savor the little things about this time. Things like:

  • I don’t have to clean! Maid service!
  • We cook here, but don’t dirty up too many dishes so meal time is a cinch!
  • I’m not tripping over toys in the hall, or in their bedrooms – cause they don’t have many and we are all in one room!
  • God bless the iPad. It’s been a lifesaver in so many ways.
  • Hooray for PBS Kids TV. Educational programming so they might actually learn something
  • Cheap story books for bedtime.
  • The Navy lodge is not fancy (by any means) but it is clean. I have yet to see any nasty critters.
  • We are within walking distance to 2 playgrounds
  • We went to Padre Island Seashore – it was LOVELY. I can’t wait to go back!
  • Teaching the minions fun card games that I played as a kid keeps the screen time down, but it’s been really fun, too. I love hearing my little girl say, “Go Fisssh!” or the way Jake dances around when he doesn’t get the Old Maid.
  • For now, just right now, I have nothing that NEEDS doing. And I’m enjoying it!

PCS – Permanent Change of Station

PCS season is upon us and this time around it’s our turn. (Anyone else find the humor in that acronym? PERMANENT Change of Station…It’s anything but permanent!) Well we are down to just days before the packers come to remind us of just how much stuff we have (and how much crap we don’t need). The process of gearing up for a cross-country move/family vacation/trip to visit family/house hunting leave also brings up all kinds of other types of “fun”, outside of the actual moving process. Here are a few of our favorites and some of the not so:

1. The Cleaning
I’m a decent housekeeper, but there’s nothing like a move to make you feel completely disgusting. My personal favorite – after the cleaning is done! Nothing better than shiny windows and uber clean floors, to enjoy for the 5 minutes before handing over the keys!

2. The Thought of Other People Touching Your Stuff.
This is a weird one for me. We pack some of our clothes, but there’s some stuff that the packers will be boxing up. Random people touching unmentionables is just, well, eww.

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3. Stuff Gets Packed That Shouldn’t
No matter how well you separate, close off a room, repeatedly tell the movers, some or all of the “do not pack” pile will find it’s way into the sea of cardboard. Every. Single. Time.

4. The Paper
Paper paper everywhere! Ugh. When you move yourself, you wrap your stuff in your dish towels, throw it in a box, and off you go. Not so much with the professionals! Who knew it took 267 pieces of paper to wrap up one of Grandma’s plates?! With that much paper, you’d think nothing would get broken.

5. Something Inevitably Gets Broken
Every single time. With the sea of paper our belongings are wrapped in, it’s entirely shocking how every move, something ends up biting the dust. Never fails. It’s up there with death and taxes, really.

6. New Digs
I love setting up a new joint! Imagining where the furniture will go, figuring out the kids’ bedrooms…it’s all an OCD mom’s Disneyland! Yay!

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7. Learning a New City
I actually really love exploring a new place. Getting out and about either in the car as a family or with my own two feet in a pair of good running kicks! Although, we are going to Texas. In July. I may have to do some running exploring in the winter!

8. Hangers
Who knew you owned that many, right? Too many – and they usually end up in a tangled knot that has no hope of ever being used for it’s original purpose. I know! Let’s go pick up some more hangers!

9. Clean
When you get to the new house, it’s all clean! Usually this is the cleanest my house ever is in the 2-3 years we stay there. Freshly unpacked, fresh house, ahhhhh. Enjoy that. You know, for the 1 day that it lasts!

10. It’s Part of Military Life
Might as well embrace it. I have yet to absolutely hate any place we’ve lived. Every duty station is what you make it. No sense in being miserable for an entire tour! Instead of resisting what we have no control over, make it an adventure! Home is where the military sends us!

Bring it on Texas! Let’s do this!