Friends, meet Tiffany. She’s cool. She’s a photographer. She’s also a Navy wife who just arrived in beautiful Connecticut. Well, actually, she arrived just in time for the Endless Winter Of Snow And Despair, but somehow managed to stick it out until things improved and is now enjoying the absolutely PERFECT weather we New Englanders like to pretend we get 90% of the time. We’re very good at lying to ourselves.
Posts Tagged ‘military life’
Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day!
Thank you to everyone who shared their stories and comments as part of my iPad giveaway. It made me feel great as a milspouse to know so many people are aware of and thinking about us both today and all year. Most days being married to someone in the military isn’t that different from being married to anyone else. But when you’re suddenly in the world of TDYs, PCSs, duty days, deployments and the nightmare that is realizing your ID expired and you can’t even get on base to renew it (I never, ever learn my lesson) it can be lonely and overwhelming. So thank you, truly.
One of the other challenges in being a #milspouse is giving up or changing your OWN career because your life is dictated so much by the active duty service member’s career. To be honest, I let the Navy pull me away from the career I planned twice – once when I realized I wouldn’t be moving to San Diego after all and the jobs I had be applying to on the West Coast would be hard to do from Virginia, and once when we were transferred here to Connecticut and the job I had been planning to make my career wasn’t open anywhere within a 100 mile radius.
If you’re a milspouse looking for a job, here are five tips to help with your search:
1. Keep your resume up to date. It’s easy to forget you might need to re-start your job hunt at any time, but the process is a lot less daunting if you have a resume ready to go. Remember to include your milspouse volunteer jobs – everything from serving as obmudsman for the command to elected positions in the Family Readiness Group counts as experience.
2. Explore careers with portability. Every state needs nurses and teachers. There are real estate offices all over the world. People always need help with taxes or childcare or personal assistants. Although there are different requirements for licenses or certification is various states, Joining Forces is working to get the process streamlined to make it easier on both spouses and veterans to transfer their current qualifications to their new home. Yay for Joining Forces!
3. Work from home. One of the most impressive military spouses I know is a top Mary Kay saleswoman. She has a million friends and connections thanks to the many places she’s lived and makes the built-in support systems that come with being a milspouse work for her. You might not want to sell make-up but the number of work-from-home jobs is amazing – everything from handbags and jewelry to food and cooking products.
4. Think outside the box. If you’re a milspouse you are resourceful, creative, well organized, and flexible. Because you have to be! Those are all talents employers need in many different fields. Just because you started on one path, don’t be afraid to jump to a new one you think sounds interesting. Apply for things that will challenge you! You can do it!
5. Check out the AT&T Military Spouse Careers site. You can search for jobs near military bases or look for jobs that let you telecommute from home. They also have great resources for veterans and connect to the Military Spouse Talent Exchange.
In the long run, being a military spouse means that I got to be a stay at home mom – a job I always wanted, luckily – and make up my own career. I’m a blogger, a freelancer, and now a photographer. I can take those things with me the next time we’re transferred and hopefully one day turn them into a full time job. In the mean time, I’m going to take my own advice and update my resume.
If you have any tips to add, leave them in the comments or tweet using the hashtag #milspouse and tag @attjobs.
FINALLY…the winner of the AT&T gift bag with the iPad mini is…
Elizabeth P. from YesNoFilms! Congrats Liz!
While our 10th wedding anniversary isn’t until August, E and I broke the decade mark on our relationship last year. He’s been in the Navy the entire time I’ve known him. That’s 10 years of planning everything from vacations to oil changes to babies around someone else’s not-s0-flexible schedule.
I planned our wedding from the East Coast while he was deployed in the Pacific. We moved one week after the wedding to a city I had never seen. If you check the mortgage documents for our current house, you’ll only find my signature – a change in his boat’s schedule meant he was at sea we when bought it and I did the whole thing with a power of attorney. Right at this very moment, E is supposed to be gone (he is not). He was also supposed to be gone for Christmas (he was not). And we planned this next baby’s birth to fall in the “safe” summer window, where he was supposed to be done with sea trials (nope) and home (it is looking more and more likely he will be gone).
But I’m not thinking too much about that right now, because it could change again in the next breath. If there was one word to describe what it takes to be a military spouse – without giving yourself an ulcer – that word would be FLEXIBLE.
May 9th, 2014 has been officially designated as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Since I’ve been a milspouse for 10 years now – and part of a military family my entire life – it’s nice to know we get a specific day to be appreciated. At any given time only 1% of Americans are serving in the military so you might not have a lot of military spouses in your life or social circle. (That seems crazy to me, since it’s always been such a HUGE part of my world, but I am the exception not the norm.) If you do know a milspouse, here are 5 ways to celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Although you could start with a hug and a “thank you for your sacrifice”. That always makes me cry.
1. Watch the kids. Or the dog. Or volunteer to water the plants. Whatever thing she (or he) is responsible for, take it off their hands for a few hours. There’s a lot of life-juggling involved in being a milspouse and having just ONE less ball in the air can make a huge difference. Plus during deployments or separations there’s one grown up managing 2+ lives, so a couple of hours to get a haircut or visit the dentist can be a total sanity-saver. (While we were engaged, I got a call from E’s San Diego apartment complex saying his rent check hadn’t gone through and they were going to pack up his stuff and evict him. He was unreachable under the ocean. While I was trying to straighten it all out it would have been AWESOME to have someone come and feed my cat so I could focus. For real, one of the most stressful weeks of my life.)
2. Provide a meal. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be healthy. When E is gone we eat more fast food or hummus-for-dinner meals than I like to admit. But just like doing some free babysitting, feeding someone is the ultimate in kindness and one less thing they have to worry about.
3. Take care of some yard work. In the winter you can shovel their walk, in the summer you can mow the lawn. I assure you that it’s not a matter of “poor milspouse doesn’t even know how to start the lawn mower” but a case of “do I dare leave the kids in the house alone for 45 minutes while I do the yard work or will I find them swinging from the ceiling fan again?”
4. Learn about organizations that provide support. There’s a great website called Military OneSource that provides everything from legal and tax advice to confidential crisis counseling. For members of the Navy or Marine Corps, the Relief Society can provide emergency loans or financial support (would you believe I didn’t even know they existed until a few weeks ago?). The Army has a version too. Check out Joining Forces and the USO to learn about volunteer opportunities and ways you can help. If you know a military family that is struggling, having a website or phone number to access real, tangible help can be the lifeline they need.
5. Listen to them. Some days I just really, really need to complain about all the ways military life makes me crazy. I am very lucky to have plenty of people in my life to go to when I need to vent without having to start with a ton of qualifiers. There are a million ways my life could be worse, a billion ways we are very blessed, a zillion things that could go wrong and we could experience real tragedy. But dammit, some days I just want to whine about how I’m supposed to be going out of town NEXT WEEKEND and E’s job STILL can’t tell him whether or not he can have the days off to watch the kids. Or the whole maybe-giving-birth-while-he’s-on-a-submarine thing. Which I am still not thinking about. Nope, not thinking.
You know what else makes me feel appreciated? Presents. Who doesn’t like presents? To celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day, AT&T has very generously given me two gift bags – one to keep and one to give away to a reader. It has a hat, a t-shirt and -oh yeah!- an iPad mini! To enter, just use the Rafflecopter widget below.
AT&T reached out because they wanted to do something nice for me and my readers as a #milspouse blogger. You can learn more about what AT&T does to support our troops and their families here. No monetary compensation was provided for my participation. I have the iPad mini for the giveaway in my possession RIGHT NOW and will send it to the randomly drawn winner.
We have a family tradition of getting our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. It was something my family did, it was something E’s family did, and it’s something we’ve done throughout our marriage. This year Thanksgiving was late, and also fell in the middle of shift work for E, so he didn’t get the day off. Or the day after. I was a little bummed, but we planned to just get the tree in a few days when E could get a few hours off of work.
That never happened. He literally hasn’t had any time off – besides a few hours to sleep most (not even all) nights – since mid-November. If it was at any other job besides the military, his hours would probably be illegal. I know I’ve complained about how much he works before (probably a lot) but I’ve reached a point where I’m not sure how I’M going to get through it.
Right now the only thing I’m getting by on is making sure the kids are still enjoying Christmas. They are so excited about every single part of the holidays that it’s pretty easy for me to let myself get wrapped up in it too, although the fact that we’re missing 1/4th of our family is always in the back of my mind. My mom sent the kids an advent calendar and GOD FORBID I don’t remember to get it down so they can open the day’s door first thing in the morning. And amazingly, they’re keeping track of whose turn it is and remember better than I do. It’s teaching them sharing! And fairness! And that if you touch something covered in glitter it will stick on your body basically forever! Those are all very important lessons.
My biggest accomplishment so far is that I took both kids to the tree farm on a weekend (SO CROWDED) and we chopped down a tree. I CUT IT DOWN MY OWN SELF. WITH A SAW. I did a hack job and a nice guy with his own family came over and steadied it while I was sawing so it didn’t fall over and crush me, but besides that I did it alone. Luckily the farm picks up the cut trees and carts them down to the station where they shake them and wrap them up for you, but then I hauled it to the car, into the car (God bless minivans) and home into the house. I totally failed at getting it into the stand but E got it set up the next morning and now we have a fully decorated tree. We had to rearrange because my little desk/office corner went in the former Christmas tree spot, but now we can sit on our new little couch, enjoy the fire and look at the tree at the same time. Tomorrow the kids get to start opening their Christmas books (I was going to do one for each day of December but books are really expensive, yo) and we can sit on that new couch by the tree and I can read to them about the Christmas story while I sob quietly because magic and family and loneliness and children and Jesus and FEELINGS. It’s raising my level of holiday spirit from Grinch to Slightly Christmasy, which is a definite improvement.
I haven’t had much time for my own photos lately, which makes me kind of sad. Partly because once something is part of your job it loses a LITTLE bit of the fun and partly because it’s hard to juggle the kids in public and take photos. It’s pretty easy to lose one kid while you’re taking pictures of the other one, and I’m generally only seconds away from losing a kid even WITHOUT a camera in my face. It’s amazing I’ve kept them alive this long, honestly. But this might be the first Christmas they remember when they look back as adults and I want to make sure I have at least some pictures to show them, so here are a few.