Monthly Recap – May

Good grief! I’m sorry this recap post is soooo late. Better late than never, though, right…?

May was an extremely busy month, but it always is for us. Between both of our families we have dozens of birthdays and wedding anniversaries, along with Mother’s Day and any weddings or graduations we may be invited to in the middle of Oklahoma’s infamous tornado season…  Despite the busy schedule, May was a pretty good month!

30 for 30 Progress
During May, I realized that I focused on several of the money related goals from my list. I’ve been doing some freelance work for a few clients and during May, working from home began to take over my schedule. I’m grateful for the work, but I’m also realizing how much time building your own business and serving your clients takes when the separation between work and home is not as clearly defined. I’ve been putting together plans and doing research to officially start my business while also keeping up with my deadlines for my clients. I’m looking forward to getting more done in this area in the months to come. Prayers appreciated though. This is a bit daunting.
I also worked on our budget plan and tried to find more ways to utilize coupons and rebates. The encouraging thing that I realized in doing all of this was that in the first five months of this year, without having “a real job” outside the home (hope you caught the sarcasm…), I brought in a little over $800 of extra change here and there. Nothing steady, but it’s become really helpful and nice to get “surprise” rebate/reward checks! 🙂 

Books Read
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 6.33.22 PM
I read Amy Poehler’s, Yes Please book and it was really good! I thought it might be similar to Tina Fey’s Bossypants, and it is, but it is also so much more! I have a new appreciation for Amy and who she is as a person. I loved how open and honest she was in her book and how you can see her reflecting on her overall life growth. The book had depth that I wasn’t expecting. I “read” the book by listening to the audiobook, which was quite enjoyable listening to the author read it. Plus, she also had special guests read portions of the book, so it’s a great listen! I want to buy the hardcopy because I would love to jot down several good quotes to remember. Read it. It’s good. 😉 

Fitness
Ok, here’s the thing. I’m one of those people who rarely gets sick, but when I do…it’s bad! I noticed I had a sore throat for a few days that wouldn’t go away. I thought it might be strep, so we went to the doctor. It ended up being tonsillitis. Long story short, I ended up missing several workouts and got off of my workout routine. So my fitness progress took a little bit of a hit this month. 😦

Travel
No travel this month…

Watched
2015-04-06 23.09.11-1I watched a lot of season finales in May! Mad Men had to be the most memorable season finale, though. My husband and I are big Mad Men fans and have watched the series all the way through. It’s one of the few shows that we both “watch” without being off and on our phones or just having it play in the background… When the last episode aired, we both had different reactions to it. Most of the time, I can’t stand good shows, movies, books, or stories ending. I want them to go on forever because I love staying in those worlds. Sometimes I’m not a fan of endings because it’s telling that the writers didn’t know quite how to tie up all the loose ends, but I have to say that the writers for Mad Men did a fantastic job! I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the ending. My husband was not so excited, he was left kind of miffed for some reason… But to each his own. If you haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy time traveling through Mad Men, I highly recommend it! 

Listened
As I mentioned above, I listened to a few audiobooks this month. I’ve been trying to catch up on my book list and the most efficient and realistic way for me to do that is to listen to audiobooks. Having worked in the publishing industry, I understand that there is a lot of debate and valid reasons as to whether audiobooks “count” as reading or not… I tend to approach is as another method to consume a story. Personally, I don’t have as much time to sit down and read a book. Unfortunately, I tend to fall asleep and loose my spot… #KeepinItReal
I listened to Yes, Please by Amy Poehler and then began reading The Girl on the Train. I’m planning on writing Pepper’s Bookshelf review posts on both, soon! Stay tuned!

Memorable Moments
Family Celebration
May is chock full of opportunities to get together as a family! Since there are so many birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, we decided to just pick one day to celebrate everything! We all went over to my aunt’s house and celebrated two birthdays, two anniversaries, and Mother’s Day. It seemed like almost everyone got a card or gift, and then we also had everyone’s favorite desserts.
Since it was May in Oklahoma, we expected a few tornadoes, but this year had to be one of the most memorable tornadoes. Flooded StreetThankfully we didn’t experience any damage or have any close calls where we live, but the internet went crazy with #Tigernado. Read more here to find out more of why, but it was probably one of the most unusual storm days we’ve had… Along with the tornadoes, we had record breaking rainfall which caused flooding around the state. Thankfully, though we are now out of a long drought!
We celebrated our four year anniversary this year! It’s crazy to think that we’ve already been together that long, somedays it feels like we just tied the knot and other days, it feels like we’ve been married forever. It was such a good day! Read more here.
Two more milestones happened this month: we’ve officially been homeowners for two years and I left the corporate world a year ago. Time is just flying by so fast!

This Made My Day
Who I Carried Today
I had a guest writer on my blog this month! Memorial Day is an important holiday in our home. I had already planned on writing a post on how I’ve come to view the day and what it means to me. With my husband being a former Marine, I knew he was planning on remembering the day in his own way, but when he came home, he surprised me by asking if he could write a blog post to share his thoughts on Memorial Day. I was a bit surprised, but also excited that he wanted to share. If you knew my husband, the adage “still waters run deep” fits him perfectly. He tends to be a deep and internal thinker, so I love when he opens up to share those thoughts. He’s an excellent writer and I was so encouraged that so many people loved his post! His single post has been the most viewed post on my page so far. I’m pretty proud of him!

Monthly Moral
This month, “grace” was the dominant theme in my day. I began to feel like I’d failed at life or that I would never get caught up from being sick and getting behind on a lot of my projects and daily tasks. I was feeling so discouraged and overwhelmed. When I stepped back and looked at the situation or what was bogging me down, I was reminded to give myself grace. I am not a robot, life happens, I may not even have enough time in the day to tackle my mountain of tasks, but it’s ok. It’s not the end of the world, it will eventually get done. But just because I didn’t get it all done, all in a day, or all perfectly, does not mean that I’m a failure. It’s a challenge to hold onto that mindset, but I’m working on it.

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Who I Carried Today

Tonight I have a guest writer! My husband, Jonathan, wanted to add another post to supplement mine about Memorial Day. Enjoy!

Memorial Day is one of the holidays that I’ve always had trouble dealing with since I got out of the Marine Corps. The purpose of the holiday became very personal to me, and I couldn’t get on board with the excitement of just having a day off of work, grilling outside, or looking for sales. It all became a cheap, sometimes disrespectful, distraction from remembering those who have gone before and given the last full measure for our country. Because of that, I always had trouble figuring out what exactly to do for Memorial Day. With my thoughts always turning to my brothers who didn’t get off the bus when we came back home, I usually ended up feeling frustrated and guilty that I wasn’t actually doing anything to memorialize our military’s combat deaths.

This year, though, I finally found something that I can create a tradition out of that allows me to put energy into and intentionally remember those that sacrificed everything. I saw that one of the blogs I follow was sharing about an event called Carry the Load, which is a walk that gets hosted across the country where people walk up to 20 miles in remembrance of our fallen. I was excited to find out about it, but it was too late for me to sign up or be able to travel to where any of them were being held. It didn’t take me long to realize that I could do the same thing by myself. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted this first time to be a more personal experience anyway.

When I started planning it, I thought I would put some weight in a small pack and run one mile for every Marine we lost from my battalion on the two deployments that I went on. I quickly remembered that I was not in any shape to run what would amount to more than a marathon, especially with weight, so I decided to split up the deployments and focus specifically on one per year (not to say I would not be remembering the others on this day). 2015-05-25 14.13.26This year I focused on our 2007 deployment to Al Anbar Province, Iraq. We lost eight on that one, so I decided that would run a mile for each of them while wearing a pack. I didn’t have any specific weight in mind (I weighed it afterwards and it came to just 15 lbs), so I just loaded some rifle magazines, threw in a full bottle of water, and other everyday carry items (pistol, badge, spare magazine, etc…). The most important, and by far the heaviest item, was the list of names I wrote on a piece of paper and slipped into the clear ID window of the pack.

I ran out of my neighborhood just like I do on my normal runs and tried to get reacquainted with running with a load. The pack I used isn’t anything fancy, so it wasn’t particularly comfortable, but it seemed like it would at least be bearable. As soon as I got onto the main road, though, something hit me. I realized I wasn’t just carrying a 15 lb pack.  I was carrying Lance Corporal Blake Howey, Lance Corporal Nathaniel Windsor, Lance Corporal Harry Timberman, Lance Corporal Daniel Olsen, Lance Corporal Jesse Delatorre, Lance Corporal Johnny Strong, Lance Corporal Juan Garcia Schill, and 1st Lieutenant Shaun Blue. I couldn’t keep from crying for about the first 50 yards. The irony of it was that even though the weight seemed so much greater, the pack became lighter. Even though I only personally knew two of them, they were fellow Marines and failing them was not an option. I made a promise not only that I would run them all the way back home, but that I would do this every single year until I saw them again. Whether running with a pack, using a walker, or pushing myself in a wheelchair, I made them a promise that I would remember them in this way every year until I died.

2015-05-25 14.04.07I realized by the last mile that I was in fact no longer an indestructible 19 year old, and that my chiropractor and my knees wouldn’t be too happy with me by the end of it. All of that was insignificant though when I considered why I was doing this in the first place. I wasn’t doing this for a workout; I was doing this to remember brothers who died violent deaths in combat. The pain in my knees and sore muscles were petty. I had cried at least two other times during the run when the significance of my burden really hit me.

While this may all seem dark, morbid, or sad to some, that is not necessarily my intent. Although I get upset when I see how this holiday, like so many others, has lost its meaning to most people, I am not one to try to put people on a guilt trip, and that is not the intent of the post either. My intent is just to implore people to do something specific to keep the essence of the holiday alive. Do something to remember those that gave everything to secure our way of life. It doesn’t have  to be a pack run, it doesn’t even have to be anything physical. Just do something that’s a little out of your way and be intentional. Tell your children why you have the day off of work. If you don’t know anyone who died in our country’s service, find a war memorial with names on it. If you can’t find find a war memorial, talk to some veterans, some of them will surely be able to give you a list of names. If you can’t do either of those things, use Google.  If you can’t do that, try harder.

My other intent with this post is to give people who have had the same difficulty I had in celebrating this holiday an idea of something significant and intentional to do that honors their fallen brothers.

I’m not saying that people should stop doing a lot of the things that are common on this holiday either. If you want to have a barbecue, that’s great, it’s entirely appropriate to actually enjoy what others have fought and died for (and wanted for themselves and their families). If you’ve been needing a new mattress, and you found a good deal at a Memorial Day sale, I won’t even fault people for that either. If it is a somber day of mourning and remembrance for you, then spend it accordingly. What matters is that we remember, and do at least one thing to give some time or energy as tribute.

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.” – General George S. Patton Jr.

If you need a list of names for next year, here’s one.

2nd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment
Operation Iraqi Freedom (2007)
-LCpl Blake Howey
-LCpl Nathaniel Windsor
-LCpl Harry Timberman
-LCpl Daniel Olsen
-LCpl Jesse Delatorre
-LCpl Johnny Strong
-LCpl Juan Garcia Schill
-1st Lt. Shaun Blue

Operation Enduring Freedom (2008)
-Sgt. Michael Washington
-LCpl Layton Crass
-PFC Michael Patton
-PFC Dawid Pietrek
-Capt. Eric Terhune
-LCpl Andrew Whitacre
-Sgt Matthew Mendoza
-HN Dustin Burnett
-SSgt Christopher Strickland
-LCpl Ivan Wilson
-LCpl Jacob Toves
-LCpl Juan Lopez-Castaneda
-Cpl Anthony Mihalo
-Sgt Jerome Bell, Jr.
-Cpl Jason Karella
-Cpl Adrian Robles
-LCpl San Sim
-Sgt Deon Taylor
-Capt Trevor Yurista
-Mr. Mohammed Dawary

Honor Memorial Day.

I know the title of this post sounds like a command, or just a statement instead of the normal “well-wishing” that we usually do for calendar “holidays.” It even sounds strange to call Memorial Day a holiday. Because, when you really think about why we commemorate this day, it’s not like other holidays.

I feel like in this era of social media, constant access to information, and living in a society of non-stop online consumption, it’s easy to gloss over days like today. I sometimes envy my grandparent’s generation because of how much simpler, but richer life used to be. Memorial Day has become commercialized, a three day weekend for barbecues and burgers, going to the lake, wearing red, white, and blue, shopping sales at the mall, and even buying cars! But that’s not what it’s for and when it’s cheapened to sales and burgers, it’s like selling t-shirts at a funeral. Memorial Day is not the same as Veteran’s Day, nor is it a day to memorialize anything and everything. It’s a day set aside to remember the men and women who didn’t come home from Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, Vietnam, Iwo Jima, and countless other wars and battles. These men and women served our country with everything they had, giving their lives so we can live freely.

I don’t come from a military family and I don’t know anyone personally that lost their life serving their country. I grew up in a conservative home that stressed patriotism, respect for our military, and an appreciation for history, so I thought I understood what Memorial Day was about. But after marrying my husband, I saw Memorial Day in a very different way.

My husband served as a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps before I met him. IMG_1786He served two tours, one to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. My husband has a warrior’s heart. He loved serving his country, being part of a brotherhood, and all that life as a Marine entailed. He misses it. While my husband and I were dating, we would go to weddings together and I got to meet some of his fellow Marines. They are an interesting group to watch. They can be loud, boisterous, rowdy, but also quiet, pensive, reserved, and extremely respectful to others, but especially to each other. They remember the brothers they lost. They don’t forget, they’re faithful beyond the end. This ethos was further exemplified when my husband and I went to the National Museum of the Marine Corps on our honeymoon. Walking through the history of our nation’s wars and battles with a Marine you know personally, moves you. And that was only one museum for one branch of the military. IMG_1773Seeing that kind reverence and respect is powerful. It changed my view of our fallen servicemen and days like today. It makes days like today personal. Like I mentioned before, I don’t know anyone personally that died serving their country, but I know my husband, and his loss is personal and deserving of respect.

We need to respect the fallen. We need to remember their sacrifice. We need to support and stand by their families and fellow servicemen. We need to take a moment to notice the veterans and military families around us and respect their day to remember. Don’t feel guilty for enjoying a three day weekend or getting to spend time with friends and family, but don’t make the day just about the surface, commercial, shallow stuff. Honor and remember the fallen.

Honor today.

IMG_1781

Wall of Marine-Navy Deaths on Iwo Jima in the National Museum of the Marine Corps. There’s an EGA (eagle, globe, & anchor) for every Marine and an anchor for every Navy Corpsman that was lost.