New Year’s Doesn’t Matter

– New Year, New You
– Resolutions
– Promises
– Fresh starts
– New Month; New Year; NEW DECADE! What WILL you accomplish?

Sick of all the same kind of posts yet?
This time of year (and especially this year, because 2020 – WOWZA) it can feel like the pressure is ON to somehow reinvent ourselves; become super duper mindful, become better than ever. People are dusting off their gym clothes, getting out their journals and food scales, promising themselves and their entire social media network that THIS.IS.THEIR.YEAR. Things are ’bout to get REAL for everyone. REAL, I tell ya.

But what if we just want to, you know, chill a bit?

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One bird, two nests.

Everyone knows that when your children grow up and leave home, the parents left behind may experience what many have termed, “empty nest syndrome”. For approximately 18 years, your children live under your roof and so much of your time and energy as a parent is spent watching over them, helping them, guiding them, teaching them, and so much more. Since my kids are still relatively little, I felt nothing in common with these Empty Nesters, nor did I really give that future phase of my life much consideration.

I had years and years before I would experience an empty nest.

Except I didn’t. No one warned me about the junior version of the Empty Nest: when all of your children are in school.

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A Dandelion Life

If you didn’t already know, the dandelion is the official flower of the military child. It is said that like a dandelion, our children blow with the wind and bloom where they are planted.

I like this image. I like the idea that wind, often seen as a force of destruction, also carries in its arms new seeds to new places, creating new life. It paints a pretty picture for me and it makes me feel better about our multiple relocations as a military family.

If I may, however, I’d like to extend this comparison to more than just the military child but to the military wife as well. For we, too, are blown from place to place and land somewhere new each time.

But there is more to this comparison. I have never given it much thought beyond the surface idea, but if you’ll humour me for a moment, let’s look a little closer.

There, in the middle of a healthy and thriving green lawn, is a dandelion. Beautiful, sunny, golden yellow – while many are eager to pull or mow these little gems, which I have been told are actually a member of the sunflower family, I have always thought them to have a kind of sunshiny beauty to them. The flower (for I will not call it a weed!) is strong and healthy. As it enters its more senior phase, it becomes grey and fluffy (hm…this metaphor is extending a little further than I had anticipated!). It cannot stay where it has been, for its time there is done. But the dandelion does not simply shrivel up and die – instead, it goes to seed. Then it must wait for a force outside of itself to decide when it will carry these seeds and where it will blow them. The dandelion has no say but instead it hunkers down and hangs on tight and relies on the wind to take it somewhere worth growing and blooming again.

And the wind does.

When it arrives at its new place, the tiny seed does not become a new flower right away. It must make its way to fertile soil and hope that there will be sufficient rain and sun. Much goes on below the surface of the ground that will never be visible to anyone else. Imagine the moments the seed becomes embedded in the soil, and the roots that first must grow, stretching into the earth, taking hold before you will see any growth at all upon the grassy layer. Only then, after some time and the right conditions and sheer determination, will it begin to flourish above the ground. It grows, a green stem, up to the sky as high as it can reach. A bud forms and then opens and the dandelion is once again strong and bright and yellow and beautiful.

It never knows how long it will stay there like this. It may age and mature and blow just to another spot a mere several grass blades away. This is what the dandelion likes best; to grow and truly take root again and again in the same yard. The soil is the same, the conditions familiar – it doesn’t take much effort or time for the dandelion to regrow here.

But at any time, the wind could decide that a further journey is required. And so once again she, our lovely little dandelion, must put all her faith in the winds of the universe that they know best what her journey must be. She must lay down her plan for herself and surrender herself to the powers of the wind, hoping to stay put but knowing that isn’t the life she has chosen.

And on days like this one, where the dandelion feels small and vulnerable, she must remember that she is only in the brand new phase of implanting herself into the soil. She must recall what the past has taught her: she cannot bloom above the surface until her roots are strong below her. And when the dandelion looks around the yard and sees but a few sparse companions instead of the thousands of fellow flowers she left behind, she must remind herself that each time the wind carries her far, far away, it also leaves seeds and strength and memories and lessons right where she was. And in this way, she is not only where she grows now but in every yard she has ever grown. And that comforts her although it doesn’t take the sting out of another new journey.

Our dandelion imagines her old pasture. Are the flowers there the same ones she left behind? Do they notice she is gone or has another dandelion filled the spot she once claimed as her own?

Next time you see a dandelion, before you pick it or spray it or do what you feel you must, take a moment to appreciate its tiny golden beauty and consider what has had to have transpired for it to be there, blooming in your yard, in the first place.

Take care,
Mel a.k.a the newly transplanted dandelion.

A Day in the Life of a Military Wife During Posting Season

It’s early spring at Posting Season. As the ever-so-popular meme says, “May the odds be ever in your favour”.

For those outside the military circle, “posting season” is the time of year when military members get the official document, (“posting message“), that tells them exactly where they are being moved (“posted“), exactly when, and what their job will be. People *usually* have an idea that this posting message is coming.

Nearly every military spouse has been admired from civilian friends who say, “I don’t know how you do it!”. Well, I’m going to tell you. Many spouses (I’m going to defer to calling them “wives” again here since this is my experience and that of many of my closest friends) have a daily routine at this time of year that looks very similar. My days usually go like this:

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The FAQs of a Military Wife

Military wives receive a lot of questions. From civilian friends and family, from co-workers, even from other military wives whose experiences have been vastly different than your own. As posting season draws nearer, I find the number of questions I receive has increased and since oftentimes they are a variation of just a few simple questions, I thought it would be beneficial for you, dear reader, to have answers to your burning questions all in one place.

So here goes. The most frequently asked questions of a military wife:

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When Missing You Never Ends

My Grandma was someone whom I didn’t fully appreciate until she was gone. We were close, but in her lifetime I didn’t get the opportunity to form a relationship with her as an adult or as a mother or as a friend. She passed away one month before I became pregnant with The Big and while I feel certain that she still knew him in a spiritual way, a big part of me will always mourn the fact that my Grandma and The Big (and The Little) never got to know each other here on earth.

My beautiful Grandma

Some people pass and we think of them from time to time: on special occasions or when we come across something that reminds us of them. But I carry my Grandma in my heart and in my consciousness nearly all the time. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and I often feel her energy and spiritual presence around me. There are parts of who I am that I didn’t realize came from both my Grandma and my own mother. Aspects of my character that I used to think of as weaknesses that I now cherish as family traits. I see now that qualities such as my highly sensitive nature are what make me my own unique square on a beautiful family quilt. Cut from the same cloth, indeed.

I am a highly sensitive person. When I read articles like this one, I think, “Ohhhh….that’s ME!”. If you know me personally no doubt you can see that, too. I look to my Mom and see where I get it from. A super awesome part about becoming an adult (besides choosing my own bedtime and eating chocolate in the morning) is forging a new relationship with my Mom. I always knew we would, at this stage, talk about “adulting” topics like finances and parenting and recipes. I didn’t anticipate talking about spirituality and personalities and deep, deep topics that many people simply aren’t aware of or don’t relate to. It is uber cool. I so badly wish I could speak to my Grandma about these things, too. I do, in my own way, but not in a way that would allow me to reach out and hold my Grandma’s hand or inhale her scent during a long hug (Snuggle fabric softener). What I wouldn’t give to know my Grandma in this new way. This way of being an adult and having a friendship that goes beyond the expected family ties. My heart aches to be able to pour her a cup of coffee on a sunny morning and sit on my porch with her in the flesh beside me, gently slurping as we both take in the morning sun and the sound of the birds. She used to do this when she’d visit (it drove my Dad crazy): she’d pour her morning coffee then take it down to the front door. Looking to the sky out the front of the house she would slurp a sip then sigh. A moment later she’d pad down the hallway to the back door, then look to the sky out the back of the house and slurp a sip then sigh. My Dad always wondered if the weather was very different at the front of the house compared to the back. Now I wonder if she was considering the weather at all, or if she was taking in something bigger. Better. Invisible.

This blog has no ending because the love I have for Grandma deepens all the time. I miss her more as time goes on. And while I intend to get her know her still, on a spiritual level, I will continue to ache for her. It’s been almost 9 years and I have learned that you never stop missing someone, you just get used to carrying around the ache of their absence. There is a quote by Jamie Anderson that says, “Grief is just love with no place to go.”. I couldn’t agree more.

For those of you carrying around this ache (now that we’re in our 30s I imagine that’s most of us), I am sorry for your losses…

Take care of yourself,

Grief is just love with no place to go

Jamie Anderson

The Spiritual Closet

As a military wife, it’s important for me to believe that each part of our military family journey happens for a reason. It is important for me to think and believe and know way down in my soul that each posting, each promotion, each change (for the better or not), happens because we are meant to learn something from it. This concept didn’t come to me for a while. In fact, only in the past few years have I felt this way. Before that, and without this understanding, our lives felt so random. It felt that we were moved around and that things were changed willy-nilly; without purpose, without reason. It felt that no one was watching out for us. That the military, even the nation (in so far as the military is concerned), was first and foremost always first. That we were an afterthought. That THE greater good always and forever outweighed OUR greater good. Feeling this way made me feel neglected. Forgotten. Unimportant to the universe at large, really.

But now things have changed. Well, I should say that I have changed. I believe we are always where we are most meant to be. I believe that we move when and where we do so that we may cross paths with specific people at specific times so that either they or we (or both) can benefit from each other’s personalities, experiences, knowledge, and spirits.

I’ve become a different version of myself in the last 12 months. Mel 2.0? 3.0? How many versions of ourselves do we evolve through as we age and mature? I’m still me: still optimistic and family-oriented and cheerful and sarcastic and highly emotional. But…and here is the grand announcement so to speak…I’ve become…spiritual.

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Mother’s Day: Hallmark vs. Reality

Mother’s Day.

Hallmark and the like have created a vision for us of what this day should be….

*cue sentimental yet playful music*…

Mother is awoken from her peaceful slumber first by the bright rays of the mid-morning sun streaking across her pastel floral bedspread. The birds chirp and the sound of small feet coming closer to the bedroom door make Mother smile. She sits up against the plethora of tastefully chosen feather pillows, her hair a delightfully tidy messy pony tail, her smooth, young face and rosy lips show off her perfect white teeth and her dark and luscious lashes. The door opens and two children bounce onto the bed while Father brings in a wooden tray with a complete breakfast for Mother to enjoy. Somehow the coffee and mimosa avoid being spilled while Mother opens her gifts. Moments later, they’re gone again, leaving Mother to enjoy her breakfast, still piping hot, in peace.

Hours later and after a long bubble bath, she emerges from the bedroom like a princess from her castle. A picnic has quietly been prepared for her while she luxuriated in solace, and the children wait for her in the car. They arrive at the park, which, despite the beautiful weather, is remarkably free of other families, birds, bugs, or anything that may mark a pock in the perfect complexion of this day. They enjoy their picnic, where, miraculously, nothing is forgotten or spilled and the children both eat a generous portion of healthy delicacies without so much as a peep. Running off to play, Father tidies the picnic and then the happy couple cuddles in the sun while they watch their children play completely independently for what seems like hours.

Later, over hot coffees from the thermos, Mother and Father will blow bubbles and fly kites with the children. Everyone runs and laughs and plays. 

The day continues in a similar fashion, ending with dessert and cuddles before the children quickly and quietly retreat to their beds, never coming back out of their rooms until 7:00 the next morning.  

What a perfect day…not a hitch, nor a complaint. Mother moved throughout it like a soft, downy feather floating down a gently babbling brook…

But ACTUALLY…that doesn’t happen for very many. Don’t get me wrong: my Mother’s Day was absolutely lovely and I enjoyed nearly every moment of it. Husband and Father in Law (FIL) worked hard to ensure that Mother in Law (MIL) and I felt loved and cared for and we did. They cooked us breakfast and dinner and shooed us from the kitchen when we tried to help. They gave us flowers and facilitated gifts from the kids and we did go to the playground and out for ice cream. The food was delicious and I felt truly appreciated.

But also.
Also I couldn’t help but do a few chores that weighed on my mind and I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax until I did them the way I wanted because that’s how I roll. And also I was awake at 7:00am, in bed with The Little because he had a fever the night before and I wanted to be close to him through the night so I wouldn’t worry. And also there were blackflies EVERYWHERE when we sat outside. And also The Little was NOT pleased that McDonald’s doesn’t sell chocolate ice cream and was even LESS pleased when our attempt to create chocolate ice cream by mixing hot fudge into vanilla ice cream failed miserably because it was not “brown enough” and not even worthy of a taste. And also that same Little burnt his fingers on a sparkler at dessert and I behaved like an asshole and YELLED at him to stop crying so we could just eat the “damn cake” and then immediately felt like the *worst mother of the year* because not only does yelling at someone literally NEVER make pain go away OR help them to stop crying but I also single handedly ruined the very dessert that I was afraid his upset would ruin. THEN I carried the guilt and shame of that around all night long like an over-packed ruck sack that I just wouldn’t put down. ESPECIALLY because I was already feeling sadness for my friends who are Mothers and don’t have the option of having their children with them on this day because they live only in Heaven and in their hearts. And I was missing my Grandma. And I was thinking of my friends whose husbands are deployed and so Mother’s Day is just a regular Sunday and they don’t get ANYTHING special.

So, there’s that.
And I talked with my Soul Sister, Miss A. She’d had a rocky moment in her day, too. And I expressed that I was frustrated that, essentially, my day was anything other than the perfect flawless fairy tale. And it was she who pointed out that real life happens on every day of the year, whether or not Hallmark or whomever has tried to make us think otherwise. I sent her pictures of our time at the playground and of the happiest moments of our day and she reminded me that except for a few dicey moments, it was actually a pretty f*cking awesome day. And I really needed that reminder because it is so, so easy to focus on the sum total of maybe 90 minutes that were tricky and forget about the 12 hours that were great. If I were looking at someone else and listening to them tell me the very same story, I would be reminding them of that, too. So why is it so hard for us to do that for ourselves? I guess that’s why we need our best friends and soul sisters, isn’t it?

So thank you to you, Miss A. But also to Miss S and Miss J and to all of the women in my tribe, both here and all over. From each of you I have learned and continue to learn things about not only parenting but of being a real life human woman and there’s no way I could be even a fraction of who I am without literally every single one of you.

It is my hope that for all of your who acknowledged Mother’s Day yesterday, that you have a Soul Sister in your life to help shine some light on the dark corners and help you celebrate the light everywhere else. Whether you were with your own Mom or child, or whether they were elsewhere in the country or elsewhere in your heart, I hope you were able to find joy and to treat yourself with the same grace and compassion that you would offer to your own very best friends.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Love Mel

Roots & Wings

On a recent visit to the local library, I got to chatting with a sweet Mama of a baby and a 4-year-old. Our kids have approximately the same age gap between them (nearly four years) so we talked about that for a little while, and soon I found myself explaining that we are a military family and only here for two years (it was relevant, I promise). I got the reaction I usually get when I tell this to a civilian mother of young kids: the raised eyebrows and slight tilt of the head followed by some variation of, “Oh wow! You’re only here for two years? You already know that? Isn’t it hard moving around all the time?”. Now, I didn’t even catch this woman’s name so I’m not about to go into a deep and meaningful conversation about the trials and tribulations, the ups and downs, the pros and cons, of our lifestyle and, in particular, of moving around a lot. So I went with my standard response, a variation of, “Well it has its challenges, of course, but we sure get to experience a lot of different things”. I then swiftly move on to a different topic.

There are two separate and distinct schools of military wives when it comes to this topic: Those who truly love and embrace the changes, the chances to start again and again, the freshness of a new adventure, the thrill of meeting new people and setting up a new house, and the opportunities we are given by seeing and becoming a part of so many areas of our beautiful country. The other school, my school, appreciates and admires the first school. And it isn’t that I disagree…those can all be exciting. But mostly, I feel differently. Yes, there are advantages. Yes, I think it’s pretty stinkin’ cool that our kids have lived in a small military town, the agricultural prairies, a historic lake-side Ontario and beautiful, coastal Eastern city. Beaches and hay bales and trolley tours and the ocean. Very, very cool. And they will likely do exceptionally well in their Canadian Geography classes.

But what I didn’t say to Library Mama was how I truly feel:

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