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Life as a Military Spouse

While this is (mostly) a running blog, it’s also a personal blog too.  After a long conversation with a friend, I realized where

I find myself constantly going back and forth of being: 

A “proud military spouse.”

To finding my own identity…

To being frustrated with the military because everything changes so rapidly…. 

I’ll always be proud of what my husband does, whether he is in the military or not.

Finding my own identity is a post by itself.  In conversation, I don’t care to talk about myself a lot (ironic since I’ve been blogging for five years), but I find myself questioning my identity.

Am I Hollie, military spouse?  Hollie the runner? Hollie the volunteer? Hollie the blogger?  To be honest, I don’t have an answer to that, and I find myself lost in my own identity.

And of course, the last frustration component makes up most of this blog. 

You know what?

Life has been hard.

Not in a whiny sense but in a talk real sense.  My husband and I are preparing for another deployment soon.  By “preparing”, I mean the Air Force needed him for another last minute trip, and he is currently away doing something else.  The trip was only supposed to last four days but four days turned to 5…6…7…and we are still counting upwards.

In the next 16 days, there is a lot to do before the deployment.  None of these things, he (or I) can do while he is away doing something else.  Sure there are goodbyes, but there is a lot of paperwork and misc tasks that have to be done beforehand.

These tasks are done on top of working a normal job.  What most people don’t realize is that also with the military, you don’t just “fly some” and come home.  When you’re not flying you’re back doing things on base too.  So it isn’t like a vacation when he is back. Not that he has been back to do that.

Essentially neither of us work regular hours.  Today (Friday) was our only day off together for the next 16 days, but that didn’t pan out. With my job, I must request days off a month in advance.  Working in retail that is what happens.  You can’t call in sick because if you do, the store can’t function. It ultimately strains the store.

I love my job but to give you an idea of how August played out, I asked for four days off to spend with my husband.  All four of those days he had emergency missions.  All four of those days off were wasted for me.  If I hadn’t requested off, I’m sure he would have had off.

With the military, your plans are always changing.  Your needs can often come behind the needs of the AF and the county.  I love my husband, and we are in a happy marriage but this month has tested both my stress and anxiety.  I would by lying if I said I hadn’t cried when several plans were canceled. Is it the end of the world?  No, but it’s frustrating.

I’m not a perfect wife, military spouse or person.  I do know that if he could, my husband wouldn’t cancel plans.  

So where does this leave me now? 
The same place I started.  Unfortunately, my plans are often dependent on what the needs of the military.  I’ll keep trucking on and we will make the best of the situation as we normally do.

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Digging Out of a Hole

April Fools Day is kind of a weird day for me. My blog FueledByLOLZ would cause you to assume I’m the queen of pranks and funny jokes today.  Believe it or not, I’m not. I debated even posting this but at the end of the day, April 1st is like any day.  It’s a memorable day for some and a day that gets pushed away by others.

I also have a lot of personal friends that read my blog, and I wondered what they would think reading this post about my struggles.  Many knew me throughout my highest anxiety points and had no idea.  Many friends had an idea but never said anything.

On April 1st, 2014 my husband proposed to me.  We had been dating for a while, lived together and even moved together.

engagement photo 3

We began dating during an already turmoiled senior year of college.  Then maintained a year and a half of long distance and eight months of living together.

Living together only reinforced our relationship. I made the decision in 2013 to move from New York to Texas, and I had no idea what to expect.  I’ll never regret my choice.

The day after I moved in, I got a knot in my hair.  It took over an hour to get the knot out but instead of remaining calm, I was in hysterics over a trivial knot.

Just thinking about Texas and my hair is huge....

Just thinking about Texas and my hair is huge….

He asked, why don’t you just cut the knot out?

I still think that could be a front runner of the most dramatic moment of our relationship.  It caused me to panic immediately and get more upset.  But of course, he remained calm and helped me work through the knotty situation. An hour and bottle of conditioner later…it was over.

Since then, he has been the calmer half and voice of reason.  I panic and get upset, and he calms me down.

A long time ago, I blogged more about social anxiety and depression.  I dealt with depression more in college and social anxiety after college.

Between working in Oswego, NY as well as living in Texas, I found myself isolated.  I felt as if I was always moving and making new friend groups.  After I had moved to Texas, I was more stressed and anxious because I had no family or friends, no job and nothing to do.  We were 180 miles in the middle of nowhere. I had blogging, of course, but you can only enjoy blogging for a certain amount of hours, and you can only apply for outside jobs for so long…

There is a real world outside of the computer screen…

Even harder about the military lifestyle is if you aren’t married, you don’t receive the same benefits as a spouse who is.  The city we lived in Texas is centered around the base, so there were a lot of obstacles we faced.  Obstacles that added more stress and anxiety into my life and in turn, Tim’s life.  Unlike where we live now, the base was the only thing to do.

And run to the border of Mexico...

And run to the border of Mexico…

However, I chose to move to Texas.  I wouldn’t have learned so much along the way without.  I did, however, notice old tendencies from college slowly creeping back.  I began sinking into depression and with more anxiety than I had felt before. 

When we found out we were moving to NJ

When we found out, we were moving to NJ

When we found out we were moving to New Jersey, it was a relief.  I’m sure I would have found my way in Texas, but NJ is a short drive to our immediately friends and family.  It is a much better fit for us.  September-December of 2014 flew by, and the change was good for me.  I assimilated well into the Garden State and had so much on my plate with unpacking; I didn’t have time to breath.

moving box meme

Then the Garden State Honeymoon period wore off.

I had a very successful but often gone boyfriend; I couldn’t find a sustainable job, and I was struggling to make friends.  My depression and anxiety began to creep through the cold winter months.  I made friends through (the then small) Oiselle team  I had a solid two friends, but that didn’t help finding a job.  I applied to things in my field (public health) and outside of it (running stores as well as a couple of hospitals).  I sent follow up emails but went weeks without hearing anything back.

Anxiety is different for everyone.  Someone might struggle in overwhelming social settings like parties, but someone else might struggle with mental and personal thoughts.  Personally, I battle with second guessing everything I do.  Not in an average way but a way that can lead to panic attacks.  A way that I have received help throughout the years.

Even when jobs weren’t calling me back, my husband reassured me I would be fine.  We were financially fine, and I was making a small living, but I found myself spending weeks isolated.  Maybe that’s when I made the goal of traveling New Jersey to go to every diner, but I can’t be sure. 

It’s odd to look back and say “my boyfriend” but he supported me throughout everything.

He supported me through anxiety ridden meltdowns to even telling me: no, don’t work there, you will be miserable (and that was most definitely true).

Fast forward to late March 2014.  I was running again; I had just begun working at a local running store, and my anxiety was dwindling.  A long six months after moving to New Jersey my life was slowly coming together.   Even though on paper I should have been happy, I still felt as if I wasn’t providing enough or not doing enough.

On April 1st, I was in the midst of another meltdown.

Anxiety is funny that way; you can be happy, sad or somewhere in between.

You never know, and there is no way to predict it.  At the time I was crying my eyes out, sad…for what reason I can’t remember.  I had gotten over it by the evening, but I was still in a funky mood.  Was I going to go to bed sad again?  It never adds up either…my life was coming together.  I had a job; my running was going well, and I was making friends.  For some reason that is always unknown, I had anxiety.

Tim proposed me to that evening.  I was shocked, and it didn’t feel real.  It took me a couple of seconds to not be as shocked but of course, I said yes.

wedding 9

That was a great week for me.  I got engaged and ran a half marathon PR. 

The engagement wasn’t a band-aid to fix my anxiety.  It wasn’t a cover up to make everything feel better, but it was a turning point in my life.  For a reason, I can’t explain it was the start of building myself out of a hole that I had dug for myself.

Throughout the wedding process, my husband was there for me when he could be.  The wedding planning took up plenty of time, but it wasn’t ever that stressful.  Another interesting point of anxiety is that it can make you very Type A in a certain situation and laid back in certain situations.  The wedding was one situation I was laid back.

So where am I now?

I’m reflecting and thinking about where life has taken me in the last few years.  If you asked me three years ago:

Would I be living in NJ and loving it?  I would have laughed.

If you had asked me two years ago: Would depression be out of my life? I would have also probably laughed.

If you had asked me a year ago: where I see myself after one year of marriage…I don’t know what I would have said.  I would have laughed to buy time but, to be honest, I’m not sure what I would have said.

First dance

While depression is something I am currently not dealing with, anxiety is something I always will.  There are periods my anxiety is worse and periods where it is almost nonexistent.  I would not consider it a day of day battle but I also wouldn’t consider it over either.

My husband has been there for me throughout everything.  Throughout the good, the bad and the ugly.  Throughout trivial meltdowns that I can’t explain and the highs and lows.  Social anxiety will be something I will deal with off and on, but the major battles are thankfully in the past.  April 1st will always have a different meaning to me.

Our wedding Anniversary is on April 12, 2015, so I’ll have more of a story then. 

At the Sunset outdoors

Removing the Word “Only”

Something I have tried to do the last year is removing the world “only” from my training vocabulary.  For instance, I “only” ran 5 miles or I “only” ran an 8:30 paced run…my only could be someone’s best pace.  Their only could be my best pace.  I only had 5 comments on this blog post or I only got 10 page views…It just sets yourself up for comparison.

Plus using the word only, I’m downplaying my accomplishments.  “Only” running a 5k of a bigger race series is still an accomplishment.  Only running a mile or only recovering when needed are equally as important as running that 20 mile long run.

Why do we put ourselves down and belittle our accomplishments?  Why do we compare ourselves to others? 

Part of this (in my opinion) has to do with the fact that you can post everything on social media.  When we have a great race, people say nice job everywhere.  On a blog, on twitter, on facebook, on dailymile, on instagram…everywhere.  It’s almost as if you are waiting for that nice job or wow you did what?!  Has our society moved towards needing and seeking constant approval from others?

What happens when you decide you need more rest or do shorter runs for a while?  Case and point: Last week I ran a total of 47 miles.  This week I will run something similar. For me personally, that is a low mileage week.  I didn’t “only” run 47 miles, I just ran 47 miles.  Not once in my race recap at the NJ half marathon did I mention I had only run a 1:27.  I just said my splits and carried on.  Comparing yourself to anyone (including yourself) just gets tiresome.

With the ability to share and overshare everything, there is an easy ability to compare everything.  It’s not hard to start reading blogs and start comparing yourself.

I used to find myself doing this a lot more with food.  I’m a terrible cook.  About half of the things I cook are burnt/crusty.  I used to read a lot more food blogs and recipes with great and beautiful food.  I would find myself comparing myself to their amazing work.  Why can’t I do that?

Then I would compare myself with blogging.  I don’t get paid to blog. I don’t get a lot of free stuff.  I’m not complaining I’m just stating the facts.  It’s easy to compare who gets more stuff, who has more blog readers, who gets more page views…who really cares is my thought.  Each blog I read is uniquely different and if I didn’t enjoy reading them or found myself comparing them, then I would stop…that was a huge lesson I learned last year.

Then there is there is the comparison of running or working out.  Personally I think this is the hardest to even compare.  No one is training for the same race with the same time goal.  I remember someone once said to me “Imagine taking two identical twins and training them the exact same way for a race.  They do everything the exact same way.  Everything is the same.  Nothing is different.  Training, food, life, environment is all the same…one will progress faster.  One will be better.”  Now imagine if you did that with two people that were not identical twins?  Point blank: you cannot compare yourself to anyone.

Questions for you:

What words do you remove from your vocabulary?

Do you find yourself comparing?

Flying the Coup

As most of you know I’m moving to Texas in less then two weeks.  (I start my journey September 5). I am leaving the coup of my parents house which means my things and way too much crap is also leaving. (I wouldn’t expect my parents house to be the storage of my stuff). It’s been hard to get rid of a lot of things like clothes, high school memorabilia and even college things.

I guess it’s good I am able to sort and pack considering I can’t live with my parents forever (nor would I want too).  I try to spend about 30 minutes daily packing because also in the next week I will be seeing a lot of people and I doubt they need or want to sit there while I pack.

Cleaning and throwing away things has been reflective for me.  I’ve been able to see what a great time I had in high school (I graduated in 2008) and an even better time in college.  It’s hard for me to even fathom what my life would have been like if I had not taken the plunge and risk to go to a college 700 miles from my house.

College orientation with my freshman roommate (Kierstin on the right).

College orientation with my freshman roommate (Kierstin on the right).

My top school choices in 2008 were East Carolina, Va tech (as half my high school class) and SUNY Potsdam.  (I ended up choosing Potsdam in Upstate NY because both ECU and Tech are huge schools and were too overwhelming (for me).  Plus Potsdam was far enough away I could really find myself and discover my true passions.

Now five years later I think about the big risk I’m taking now.  Moving down with a boyfriend.

I’ve had people tell me they are happy for me (thank you!).  I’ve had people question whether this is the best idea or not…I am not moving down with any sort of plan and now that I’m an Oiselle bird I can say I’m just erm “winging it”.  You always have both sides of the equation with peoples opinions and I truly enjoy hearing both sides.

Right now and as much as I hate to admit this, I think not knowing and not having a plan is what makes life so much more interesting.  Wherever I go and whatever I do, I know there will be both bad times and there will be good times.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this post other than to say over the course of the last few months I’ve come to realize that you can’t live in a hole all the time and not take risks.  You have to get out of your comfort zone and accept that people will support you and not support you.  You have to do what makes you happy or what you at least think will make you happy.  Not everything can be planned out and I think I like that.  Change is good and embrace it as much as you can.  Everyone struggles at first but you will make it through.  (at least that is what I keep telling myself).

Questions for you:  What were (are) your top choices for college?

Would you say you have a lot of stuff?  (not junk, just items…).

I don’t even know why I saved so much of it..If my initials were HHH, my middle name could be hoarder.  I finally donated 61 of my 89 race t shirts so I’m making progress.

What if What?

I don’t normally post such in-depth personal struggles of my life.  That isn’t to say I don’t have them by any means (because I have plenty), I am just a pretty quiet person in regards to that sort of thing.  So know that I toyed around for quite some time whether I wanted to post this.  I think a lot of people probably have similar situations (especially those who have just graduated college, going to graduate soon or are really uncertain about their lives…hey that’s me).  It’s no secret that I don’t have the most exciting life right now, I’m a year out of college working a part time job (and hoping to pick up a second) living with my parents.

The other day, I had a very deep conversation with my parents about living in the future.   

Right now I am struggling with living in the present day.  Instead of thinking, oh today will be good…I think what’s going  this weekend…this month…after the summer…next year.  My head is looking so far into what if and hypothetical situations that who even knows will or will not happen.  It seems so silly to type it out but honestly when you are not living in the present you can’t enjoy present moments.  Worrying about things that may or may not happen has just continued to stress me out even more.

What if my great aunt Mildred came to visit in late October when I have to work and I just can’t get off work…what happens then?

What if my hours for working two jobs have to overlap and my bosses aren’t understanding that I’m working two jobs?

What if I never move out and live with my parents forever?

What if I move halfway across the country for a job?  What if I just move half way across the country without a job?

What if I chose to go to college 700 miles north of my high school five years ago not knowing anyone and or anything and not worrying?

What happened to that?   I don’t regret going so far to college but in my current mindset I don’t know if I would have made the same decision.  I truly loved my choice in college but it was a huge risk.  A huge change.  In my current mindset of continuing to look past the present, I cannot tell you if I would have made the same decision that I made five years ago.

This summer my goal is to not worry about what happens after the summer.  That seems really (well duh) but considering both my jobs right now are temporary, I still have them right now and in the present.  I am still enjoying myself right now in the present.  I am enjoying hanging out with my parents.  Hanging out at local road races.  Hanging out running.  If you ask me point blank why I should be stressed at this current moment in my life…I don’t have any answer because I’m not stressed.  If you asked me are my stress levels through the roof thinking about the future…well yes, yes they ar.  If I continue to worry and not enjoy the moment, I continue to stress myself out.

Everything will work out and I’ve made that promise to myself.

Question for you: Do you tend to look towards the future? 

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