Entitlement

I recently decided to do some decluttering, and put some items up for sale on the local buy and sell pages with dread in my heart. Why? When I post items I do my best to research a fair price for all involved, take tones of pictures to show what the buyer is going to get, post an accurate description, and answer all questions received. Even though I do all of this I usually get people who try to under cut the price, or act in poor behaviour when wanting the item. With all that said, I don’t blame people for trying to get a deal or acting aggressively when they really want something. But an incident happened today that I thought was a very good example of what I see a lot of…entitlement.

So what is entitlement? Entitlement is when a person feels they deserve special privileges, and act arrogantly about it. The term “culture of entitlement” has developed to describe that many people have highly unreasonable expectations about what they feel they are entitled to. The subject of entitlement seems to have been swirling around in various conversations that I have been part of recently. Are we developing into a society of entitled people? Who is entitled to what, and what makes people feel they are more entitled than others?

Entitlement, or having a feeling that we have the right to something can be a healthy way of thinking. For example, for a small child it is a normal part of development to feel like they are the centre of the world. It is part of early stages of development, but is part of a parental role to help a child recognize that while the child is important, that it is equally important to realize and respect the boundaries and rights of others.

Often feelings of entitlement arise from feeling mistreated or disrespected, and that a person feels they deserve treatment better than what was received. This actually is also healthy. It is a shift towards self-respect, but with this shift a person needs to find a balance between self-respect and respectful behaviour towards others. Entitlement is of value to adults. The belief that we have the right to take care of ourselves and our families, and not to be hurt by them is vital to one’s well being. But the belief that we are entitled to get special treatment or go to the front of a line is not a healthy view or productive actions in society. As much as entitlement is healthy in some ways, our society is not necessarily supportive of the development of a healthy balance.

Which leads us to my adventure of today. A person purchased an item from me, and after picking it up she contacted me to say she was upset it had two scratches (which the posting listed and pictures showed). She was also unhappy it was dusty even though the listing said it was dusty since it was in storage. I tried reason, and redirected her to the posting. She said she felt she should pay less because of the dust. I stated I did not agree since the posted price was lower because it was dusty.

She felt entitled because she felt wronged. I get that, and attempted to point out the advertisement was accurate, and she viewed the condition when she picked it up. It was not a problem then, but when she took the machine home (that sells for $300 used normally) she then had a problem and decided to lash out. My question was why? What does it solve attacking others? She didn’t want a refund because she admitted she knew these machines are $500 new. So what was the point?

The answer is there was no point. Usually in adults entitlement comes from, as said before, a feeling of being wronged. When these feelings are not addressed and the individual does not learn to respect other people’s boundaries or how to speak respectfully, poor actions result that can bleed into all of a person’s interactions. On a large scale this affects not only all interactions that a person has, but affects society as a whole.

As a world wide community, we have huge problems…people do not have access to food, shelter, and clean water. People are fighting for equality with race, gender, and religion. Areas of our world are fighting and killing each other. Yet we as individuals do not have the foresight to realize that acting entitled is not helping. There are more important things in the world than to sit behind a keyboard and attack people for no reason.

So what did I do? I thanked her for her time, and told her that I do not agree with her stance. I told her that I feel that I made an attempt to work through things, but it seems that she was not interested in that and that I will not accept her behaviour. I also said that I hoped everything in her life was going well, and that she enjoys the machine. There is no arguing with someone who is acting entitled. They only want to jump in front of that time, yell at who they want, and get stuff for free. The only thing one can do is tell the individual what behaviour you will accept, and set up boundaries. Just because they may not have balance does not mean they should be allowed to take yours.

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Workplace Bullying

This morning I opened Facebook and saw a picture that a friend posted. One of the people in the photo was my old boss. I know that I am likely just a blip in her memory, but to me she is a trigger. Seeing that picture triggered a bunch of bad memories, and made me realize that those experiences created a path of behaviour that continued for years.

After high school I completed courses in aesthetics, makeup artistry, and nail technology. I had several years experience before I moved across the country for a new military posting. I was happy to find a job within my first week at our new location at what was the most popular salon in the area. The salon was run by a (at the time) husband and wife team who’s goal was to have a family like working environment. Being that I just moved away from my family, this drew me in. It was not to last.

A year later they hired another military wife. She was a hairstylist who took a course in nails which you would think would bond us together. It didn’t. From day one she acted like I was her competition and started talking behind my back to both my clients and colleagues. She found opportunities to isolate me, and verbally attack me. She made up stories, and told them to my old boss as truth. She told me it was her goal to get rid of her competition.

I went forward to my boss. She told me that it was just a “personality conflict”, and asked me to be nice to her at all costs.  She was having a challenging time with her marriage, and she is likely she was just taking it out on me. My bully’s behaviour then got worse. I went forward again and was told maybe it was my fault. At this point I realized that my boss was enabling her behaviour. It was time to leave.

The good news was this prompted me to go back to school and start a new career. When I put in my resignation, my bully used it as an opportunity to continue her torment. She openly verbally attacked me in front of my employer. She started threatening other employees that if they remained friends with me that she would make the boss turn against them too. It worked…I left a career I loved and lost my friends, but I had a new start. The bad thing was I carried this with me, and suffered from a lack of trust.

The cycle continued in other work places. When I would be introduced to a toxic individual my first thought was a fear response. I was fearful that I would be attacked, and when it would occur that my employer would not ensure a safe workplace. Sadly, I was usually right. My next situation occurred soon after I was introduced to a known workplace bully. I was told that he “only likes you if your a blonde with a tight ass”, and to “…tell him to fuck off…that’s what we all do…” Neither of these was ok with me. I made a choice that when his behaviour towards me was not acceptable to tell him so, and say for him to speak to his boss about the issues he has with me. That went down like a sledgehammer to the head. It triggered him to be worse. He started reporting me to Management for things that did not occur. When approached about it I would bring forward witnesses that would state what he was saying was not true, and that he in fact was bullying me. I was told by my boss, his boss, and the Human Resources Manager that “it was a personality conflict”, and maybe I was doing something to make him do this. It wasn’t until he physically threatened me in front of multiple witnesses that they took it seriously, but I am sure this now is only a blip in time for them too.

In any workplace, there will be conflict. Someone will not get along with someone else. It is a bosses responsibility to know or reasonably should know this is occurring, and it is their job to ensure that everyone involved or affected are safe. The purpose of my tale is not to scare you into saying nothing. If this is happening to you speak up, and continue to go forward to your boss, or bosses boss until you are safe. Do not allow yourself to be gaslighted into thinking it is you. If you see this happening to someone you work with speak up. Do not allow workplace bullying and violence be a blip.

Time to Come Out of the Closet – Part Two

This is the third time I have attempted to write this.  It is not easy for me to open up about this issue, but as I come clean I hope you see why.  I believe the reason is the same as what drives most people’s behaviour – fear.  I am afraid of how people will react.  I am afraid that I will be treated differently. I am afraid that life as I know will stop because of other people’s reactions.  I am making a choice today to no longer live in fear, so this is my story.

Four years ago we were posted to an area known for cold, harsh winters and shorter summers. I started feeling poorly soon afterwards.  Severe chronic exhaustion, and pain became a way of life.  Deep down I knew something was really wrong, and I explained this to my physician. He ran some very basic blood work, and told me nothing was wrong.  He continued to do the same practice over and over until I knew it was time to seek out a doctor who would actually listen to me versus pushing my concerns to the wayside.  Sadly, this took time I did not have and resulted in my condition worsening.

My worst moment was in January 2015. I was going to walk my dog, but I hurt too badly and was too tired to go. As a person who is used to being high energy and high producing, this was devastating. My husband then made me a promise that in one year we would know what was going on and I would be on the path to recovery. I held on to those words like they were the most precious things in the world, because to me they were. It was the only thing I had faith in at the time. I couldn’t trust the medical system that did not give me answers, and I couldn’t trust my body anymore. And almost one year later his promise came true. I got a diagnosis.

With my diagnosis came the usual emotions of fear and sadness, but then I realized that this disease is part of me. I knew that I was not the same, but this was my body’s way of saying I need to take care of myself. As military wives, this is something we forget to do. After all, we take care of our families, our homes, but we usually forget ourselves.

So what is the moral of this story? There are several…firstly, when taking care of life take time to slow down, reflect, and care for yourself. If you do not you will be in no condition to help others. Second, bad things happen. When they do you can choose to live with or live by it. I know many people that when something bad happens they use it as an excuse to pity themselves or to act out against those in their lives. I made the choice to see it as part of me, and move forward. What makes us strong is that we have the guts to be vulnerable which gives us the strength to fight.

I choose to fight.

Time to Come Out of the Closet – Part One

Imagine you drive into the parking lot of your favourite grocery store, and when getting out of your vehicle you see someone pull into a parking spot reserved for the disabled. They get out of their vehicle, and walk into the store.  What is your first thought? If you are like most people, your first thought is that the person is scamming the system.  They do not have a wheelchair, walker, or canes so therefore nothing is wrong with them. They must be using someone else’s disabled parking, because they are to lazy to walk into the store. In fact, many people have recorded and social media shamed people like this…maybe you should do the same?

This is the bias that those who suffer what has been coined as “invisible disability” deals with every day.   People often ask what this term means.  In simple terms, it is a physical, mental, or neurological conditions that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activity and is invisible to an onlooker.  In even simpler terms, just because someone looks ok does not mean they are ok.  Due to the symptoms are invisible to the naked eye this can lead to many misunderstandings, biases, or judgements.

Many people confuse the difference between disability and disabled.  A disability is defined as an ongoing challenge that may be managed, or something that may cause a serious change or loss.  Just because someone has a disability it does not necessarily mean a person is disabled.  Most living with challenges are fully active with their work, families, and extra activities. Some are able to work full or part time, but struggle to get through their day with no energy to do anything else. Others cannot maintain employment due to their disability, have challenges with daily living, and need assistance with meeting their personal needs.   When people think of a person with a disability the presumption is that the term only refers to those using an assisted device like a wheelchair, but almost one out of ten people are considered to have a severe disability with 74% of these people not using assisted devices.  Therefore a disability cannot be solely determined on if a person uses a wheelchair, walker, or a cane.  The term invisible disability refers to symptoms of debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, brain injury, cognitive disjunction, learning disabilities, vision and hearing impairment, as well as mental health disorders.  They are not necessarily obvious to an onlooker, but they limit daily activities, can be mild or severe, and vary between person to person.

Sadly, people judge others by what they see, and many times results in the conclusion that a person can’t do something based on their appearance.  This is also true for those who have invisible disabilities.  People usually presume because they look ok that they are ok. The expectation is that these individuals need to get their act together, or stop being lazy.  The bottom line is eveyone with a disability is different, and has different needs.  This is why people need to stop judging with their eyes, and listen to what an individuals needs are.  In the province I live, for an individual to be able to park in a spot identified as disabled they must not be able to consistently be able to walk 150 meters.  The key word is consistency.  An individual with chronic fatigue syndrome (for example) may be able to do this on their good days, but not on their bad ones.  Or perhaps it may appear to you that they can walk to and out the door of a grocery store just fine – but must go to bed as soon as they go home so they have enough energy to make themselves supper.

So why am I so passionate about this issue?  Because this is me and the life I lead.  I have not told very many people about how my life has changed in the last few years.  Why? Fear.  I was scared about what people would think of me – either I am making things up or that maybe they would pity me.  I had enough on my plate.  I was trying to adapt to my life changing to something unexpected, and trying to get treatment to improve my quality of life.  The last thing I needed is people talking about me and not to me.  I wanted everything to be normal in an existence that is not.  Most of all I worried about my military spouse and mom.  The last thing a deploying military member never the less someone’s husband needs is to worry about their sick wife.  The last thing a parent needs to hear is that their child is sick, and facing an unknown future.  But time has passed, and I am in remission.   I now understand that my disease is part of me…as much as my brown eyes and sparkling personality.   I also know that some people reading this are going to be angry that I have come out the way I have….but they need to remember this is my story, and I am only now comfortable in telling it.

Please join me for part two where I come completely clean with you all…finally.

Speaking in Acronyms 


Three and a half years ago I made a career change, and moved to human resources from front line health care.  At my first team meeting, one of my team mates started speaking about in’s and outs.  When she was done speaking, I had to ask a question…what did she mean by in’s and out’s? What she said was did not give any clarification, and was very general.  In my mind in’s and out’s was the measurement of fluids a person drinks versus the measure of urine coming out.  Her meaning was a job position moves from union to out of union, or out of union to in a union.  Slightly different, with less measurements.  This brings me to the topic of my next blog post – speaking in acronyms.  

Each job seems to bring new acronyms to one’s vocabulary.  When I started out my career it was all about WYSIWYG, and when I moved to health care it was BID, UTI, and HS.  Now that I work in Human resources (HR) we deal with PLP and 4FS, but the champions of using acronym speak is the military (DND). A typical conversation with my husband goes like this…

Me – Hi honey, how was your day. 

Him – Fine

Me – What did you do today? 

Him – Today I met with the CO and Ops about Op Lentus and Then I had to sign off on some C checks.  Then blah blah acronym blah INTI blah blah blah more acronyms. 

Me – What?

Then to make all of this worse, most people add internet lingo…WTF? But thankfully, at http://www.forces.gc.ca the military gives us some help.  Type in acronyms into their search engine, and you will find the official DND list of acronyms.  But I will simplify things a bit more for you all.  Remember your audience.  If they are your work mates they likely understand the acronyms that you speak, but if they are not they likely do not.  One thing that most people do not realize about communication is that it doesn’t matter what you say.  What matters is what the other person hears, and how they interpret it. This is based on their experiences.  By speaking techno-jargon to someone who does not understand it, you are no further ahead with your communications and those listening are just frustrated.  My advice?  Save the acronyms for those who understand them.

How to Survive Your Next Move

After my father passed away, my mom moved from the family farm to a home in a nearby town.  To do this she had to do a major downsize, and then a farm sale.  Everything that was left that she was unable to deal with at the time was stored in the basement and garage of her new residence.  Then a couple of years ago she decided to downsize even further by moving to a condo.  As moving date got closer, the more she panicked. So much so that in during a freak out session she told me (and I quote) I had no idea how stressful a move is.  I then politely requested for her to reword her last statement (insert squinty eyes here), and she said that being a military wife and moving so many times that I was used to it.  Seriously? I mean seriously?

Does anyone ever get used to moving which includes but is not limited to:

  • Selling your home
  • Finding a new place to live
  • Leaving your friends
  • Quitting your job
  • Getting medical records
  • Finding a new physician/dentist/other medical professionals/hairstylist (most important for a curly mop like mine)
  • Finding a new job
  • Packing/cleaning/unpacking
  • Living out of hotels for weeks on end

The answer is hell no!  No one ever gets used to starting over, but here are some tips I have learned to make this transition easier.

  1. Regularly purge: if you haven’t worn it or used it in 6 to 8 months get rid of it! Garage sale, Kijiji, or online buy and sell sites work great. Not only is it gone, but now you got some extra money in your pocket to spend with your new hairstylist.
  2. Don’t buy something if you don’t need it: this one is a no brainer. If you don’t need it don’t bring it home, and this way you don’t need to pack it.
  3. Lists, lists, and more lists: make to do lists and reminder lists with timelines. If you set a deadline make sure you stick to it.  If you need help with this there are plenty of websites that have printable lists you can download for free.
  4. Pre-pack as much as possible: most presume that the military arranges for all of your stuff to get packed, and go to your new location. This is true, but what people presume you have for assistance is never what you get.  Our last move we received one packer for a four bedroom house.  If we relied on this we still would be packing.  If you pre-pack some of your things you will be ahead of the game.
  5. Make all arrangements well in advance: ensure that you arrange items like water, power, and internet ahead of time.  In some areas these are already at your new address, and you contact companies after you arrive to arrange billing.  In other locations this is not true.  Ensure that your #candycrush game is not interrupted by contacting services ahead of time and schedule installation.
  6. Don’t unpack: if you go into the storage area or garage of any military member, you will find multiple boxes that have not been unpacked from previous moves.  If you are not going to use it and am not willing to purge it, keep it packed to save time for the next move.
  7. Make sure everything is clean and empty: I have had heard stories how people forgot to empty garbage cans, and it gets packed by moving companies.  I always thought this was a urban myth until my first big move I forgot to empty a deep fryer.  When I got to my new location you can imagine what I found (envision stinky oil everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE).  Play it safe, and clean/empty everything before the packers arrive.
  8. Put everything important in one location and ensure packers know not to pack them: telephone books, car and house keys, insurance and travel papers, and cell phones should be put in one location.  I know a lot of people put a note with these items that says not to pack the items in question.  I did that one of my moves, and they were packed anyways.  I recommend to not only write a note, but bring the packers to that area and tell them not to pack the items.  It is the only way you can guarantee their safety.

So there you have it…everything you need to know to survive your move.  But what about your fur babies? It depends on the pet.  My recommendation is to take them for a check up at the vet and get their advice.  To make my little Gizmo’s trip better he takes medication, but there are other more natural remedies that may help your pet.  One thing that I do when we move is to ensure we keep Gizmo’s favourite toys and belongings with him, and lucky for me his most favourite thing is me.  #lovemylittlemonkey.

Please share this post with anyone who has a move coming up, or you feel this may help.  Feel free to post comments with what your suggestions are for surviving a move, or tricks that has worked for you in the past.

How to Help Those Who See Horrible Things

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My original plan for my next blog post was to write about how to survive moving. I had it all mapped out in my head with all my hard learned lessons included.  But then a very unexpected thing happened.  After I posted my first blog post I started to receive a ton of communications concerning my first three posts.  I heard from military spouses, military members, adult children of former military members, and members of the public.  The messaging was all very similar…they all identified the same gap that I felt there was with available supports, they thanked me for speaking out, and asked me to keep writing!  WOW!  I want to sincerely thank each and every one of you who read my posts, and sent me messages of support.  Thank you all for making me feel not alone in this, and I pledge to all of you I will keep supporting you all in my strange little ways.

Speaking of support, one of the most poignant messages I received was from a lady who is in a fairly new relationship with a military member who also is a first line responder. She asked me to write about, and give my thoughts about how does one properly support someone who may see horrible things.  This issue has been getting a lot of press in the last several years, but has been a problem since cavemen and women protected their clans with pointy sticks. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can affect anyone when they are exposed to what they interpret as a traumatic event that symptoms persist for a length of time.  Due to the nature of the work a military member or first line responder does, the likelihood is higher that this may happen.  I am far from an expert in this field, but I would like to relay to you a few stories that may help you get a bit more insight into the issue.

Several years ago, two co-workers of my husband were very excited and proud that they were selected for training to be for lack of better terms – a spy. I always envisioned a Canadian spy interactions to be something like this:

Spy – Excuse me Mr. Insurgent, but could you please provide me with your cell’s plans to take over the universe when you have a free moment?

Insurgent – Well Mr. Spy, if I do that it may have a negative impact on my plans.

Spy – Yes it may, and I am really sorry for that. But if you could please reconsider since it would really help me out.  How about we discuss over some Timmy’s?

Insurgent – I would like that, and thank you for being so nice about this. Since you were so kind, please take my world domination plans.

Spy – I really appreciate this (Spy passes Timmy’s to Insurgent). I also was wondering if it would be possible for you and your group to stop all of the suppression, and bad behaviours.  I know that this may be a cultural problem for you, but if you can give it some consideration.  I would love to schedule some time with you and your leaders to discuss further.  I will give you a call early next week to schedule some time.

I was vastly wrong. Almost a year later, I ran into one of the two at a hockey game.  The once fun loving, and carefree man visually looked like a shell of his former self.  He told me that he was injured from a bomb, and was in a German hospital for months while he healed without his loved ones being aware.  He said that he could not do this work any longer, because he could not live with what he had to do in the name of our beloved country.  He was completely broken, and it happened over a very short amount of time.  The next example that I would like to discuss was more progressive, and will not be what you expect.  This is because the example I am using is me.

As those who know me already know, I left high school with dreams of one career. After several years, I had to leave to do something new.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but after going back to school I found myself in the medical field.  I then furthered my education within the medical field to allow myself flexibility to be able to easily find work when my spouse was posted.  Part of this “resume rounding” lead me to work in front line health care for many years.  I find it hard to be able to truly explain this experience.  Every day you come to work, and have no idea what you will see or experience.  The culture is one of constant high stress, and you are expected to create miracles with little to no resources.  Add on top if it you watch people die…over and over again – and often multiple times a day.

I found that soon after I started working in a front line position I turned off. I used to be a person who block my feelings to assist with coping at the moment of an occurrence, but this was not that.  It was like I turned off my emotions to survive.  My emotions then would turn on and quickly boil over during my outside life…something that reasonably should be small would seem huge and I would lash out in anger or cry uncontrollably.  I became sick, and then developed a chronic disease.  I had constant migraines, and an underlying sadness I could not shake.  I felt under constant attack.  I then recognized that not dealing with what I was seeing and having to partake in had damaged me.  I decided to make a change.  I still work in health care, but no longer in a front line position.  I am still able to help, but do so in a way that is healthier for me.  I still deal with side effects of this which include still feeling attacked at times, and negative health connotations.  I am thankful for my time working in front line healthcare, and know that I had a role in helping many people.  I do believe that if I made a different choice that my health would be in a different place than now.

Mental health issues do not discriminate. It affects men or women regardless of age, and can leave permanent marks on one’s soul.  When a person starts demonstrating symptoms, they may not realize that it may be PTSD or that there is a problem at all.  Many people think it will go away, or are fearful of talking about it because of what other people may think.  They may think that people will think that they are weak, but even the most strong of us can be strong for only so long.

Everyone is different and have different experiences, and that is why there is not a cookie cutter solution that helps everyone. Below are my personal thoughts on how you can help someone you love:

  1. Keep communication lines open – Sometimes the one you love may want to talk, and sometimes they do not. Let them know that you are there for them and am always available to listen. Be prepared that you may hear things that are very hard to listen to, but remember that you only have to listen to it. Your love one lived it.
  2. Ask your loved one what they need – Some days they may need someone to talk to, and sometimes they will not. Sometimes they may need a shoulder to cry on, and sometimes they may need to joke around. Ask what they need, and what may help them. Sometimes it may be as simple as sending them puppy memes, but the best thing is not to presume you know what they need and ask.
  3. Do not be afraid to reach out – There are many resources available for military members, and their loved ones to assist with dealing with mental illness, PTSD, and trauma. Do not think that people will think poorly of you if you reach out. In fact, recognizing an issue and getting help for it is one of the strongest things a person can do. Some great resources include (but are not limited to):

You are Not Alone – Canadian Military Member and Family Resources  http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/caf-community-health-services-mental/index.page

Canadian Mental Health Association  https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/topics/mental-health-wellness.html

Government of Canada Mental Health and Wellness https://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/

Canadian Military Mental Health Resources  http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/caf-community-health-services/mental-health-resources.page

Mental health issues are not something to ignore, put aside, or hope it will go away. If you are needing assistance in any way, please reach out for help in any way you feel comfortable. Speak to a professional. They can help.

 

How to Survive a Military Party

I remember the first military event that I went to.  It actually was not an official miltary event, but a casual backyard barbecue put on by my husband’s boss.  I was nervous – my husband and I just started dating a few months before, I didn’t know anyone, and didn’t know what to expect.  I definitely did not expect what happened next.  A woman who was a few years older than me came up to me, and the conversation went something like this…

Older woman: Hi, my name is Jane Doe.  Who are you here with?

Me: Hi, I am with my boyfriend Joe Smith.

Older Woman: What is his rank?

Me: What does that matter?

Older Woman: Well, my husband and I only hang out with Master Corporals and higher.

And that was the moment that I learned that a military party is not like a normal office party, and that in some people’s eyes rank equals social status.

All my life I saw bias the world, and I didn’t understand it. Why does a boy get more advantages than a girl? Why can’t people celebrate their spirituality how they want?  What does what colour one’s skin is, or how they dress even matter? Coming from a small town, if you were not the carbon imprint of what everyone expects you were a problem.  Even though I grew up in this environment, I knew it was wrong.  I was intelligent, and knew my gender did not affect this. I may not have been the most popular girl in school, but I knew that being popular would not affect my future life.  I worked extremely hard to prove everyone wrong, and show that I mattered.  But then as a young adult I started dating the man who ended up being the love of my life, and learned about an entire new stigma and bias of being a miltary wife.

To those of you who do not reside in the military world, there is one stigma to being a spouse.  It is presumed that you are uneducated, and are a stay at home wife if you are a woman. If you are a man, it is presumed that you are well educated and have a great and important job.  This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many woman and men stay home to raise their children, and it in no way means that they are uneducated or do not have anything to give.  Many people have great careers that they love and give back to their communities.  And now comes the bias…rank equals social status.  The higher your spouses rank is the higher you sit on the social ladder.  Depending on your spouses rank, either people kiss your ass thinking it will help their spouses career or they will look better hanging out with someone who’s a higher rank. Or the opposite happens – people presume that you think that you are better than then due to your spouses rank.  Aaaaaggggghhhhh!


So how do you survive the military social event of the year, and avoid the cesspool of bias? Follow the following tips to achieve a trauma free event:

1. Stick to a one drink rule – one thing most people do not realize is that even though most work events are off the worksite, actions taken are disciplinary. It does not matter what industry you may be in, military or not, this still is true.  The likelihood of you saying or doing something incredibly stupid decreases with less alcohol intake. To give a good example of this: one year, a individual got drunk at my spouse’s Christmas party. He started hitting on and then insulting all of the ladies at the party, and when I refused his advances he followed me to the bathroom where he threw me against the wall and started uttering threats.  He was removed from the party, and the next day charged which prompted the end of his military career.  If he stuck to the one drink rule his life today would be in another direction.  If I did not follow the one drink rule, it would have been disastrous.

2. Dress appropriately – I have seen many people either under or over dress for an event. Some will go to a house party in a cocktail dress or suit. Others will go to a formal event in a t-shirt. Either one will result in you feeling awkward, and make you a target for the gossips. Play it safe and ask what expected dress is. You will likely have a better time if you are comfortable and feel beautiful.

3. Be yourself – I know that this one sounds like a no brainer, but I would much rather get to know a person for themselves versus what I think they could do for my spouse’s career or for my social standing in the community.  There are definitely more people like this in the world than there is the latter.  In my experience, I have had many encounters of people wanting to be your friend because of what my spouses role is, but here is the kicker…I am my own person!  I am funny, smart, and give back to this world.  I have a great job and a wonderful group of friends.  There will always be people that don’t care about this. These people are everywhere (not just the military world), and a good example of this is several years ago I got in touch with my high school best friend and made a date to catch up.  Soon after arriving she told me that if we did not have a relationship in high school that we would have no relationship now.  Why?  I was not part of our small town social ladder.  My answer to her was if you want friends that will increase your small town social status, and don’t want to like me for me – I do not want a person like that in my life.  The same advice goes here.  There are always people that will want something from you, but if a relationship is only one sided it is not worth it.

4.  Be open – I remember how nervous I got before a military event, because I have had a few bad experiences at them and did not know what to expect.  I tend to be a bit shy, and pull back.  That is definitely not the way to go.  Open up, and use this as an opportunity to meet new friends.  I have met some of the best friends in my life at military functions.  There is always more good than bad out there, so relax and have fun!

Now that you are prepared to handle that upcoming military function, my next post is going to be about the next big hurdle in a military spouse’s wife…moving!  If you enjoyed this post please share, and join me again very soon to read how to survive a move.

How to Make a Cube into a Home

When the one you love is away fighting against tyranny and oppression, you need to keep your time occupied.  There are tonnes of things you can do like wash floors, iron clothes or clean the furnace vents, but I choose to do something fun.  I find that when my spouse leaves I tend to throw myself into my work, and if I am going to do that I might as well make it fun…right?

I don’t have an office.  I have a cube.  Not a cool cube like on Transformers.  Just three walls, a partial wall, and no window.  At my workplace almost everyone but me has an office, and recently with some renovations more people joined life in a cube.  It was like you took away their necessities of life!  People started bitching, and one person went as far as to say they were going to have to drag her dead body out of her office with a view.  Do you know what my view is?  It was a printer, but the powers that be decided that I needed more privacy (aka: make a fake wall to keep her fenced in a bit better).  Now if I pivot just right my best view is still only my monitor.  This is not acceptable.  I got sick and tired of hearing the complaining.  I could not believe that this was an atrocity to some people!  My husband and his crew have slept in a swamp under a helicopter, and these people complain about their view changing?

So now I had a quest: make my bat cave the best bat cave ever.  Prove to these people that moving offices, or moving to a cube is not that bad…if you want it.  So where did I start?  I decided to put in items that do not make any sense.  Why?  So people will ask why I have that in my office of course!  Here are some of the items I added:

  • Magic 8 Ball: This has become an office favourite.  This is the tool for all of our decision making, and decides who will win the Stanley Cup in the playoffs.  The funny thing is that the Magic 8 Ball has not been wrong yet.
  • Lava Lamp: My bat cave is a little dark, and what better way to add light is via a lava lamp.  I was lucky enough to find a lamp that had an actual volcano with erupting lava.
  • Sign to Welcome Zombies: In case of a apocalypse, one should always ensure your enemies are close.  If I make the zombies feel welcome, they are more likely to eat my co-workers.
  • Stress Monkey: Who can resist a stress monkey that’s eyes pop out when you squeeze it in anger?  Nuff said.
  • Cow Pen Holder: One of my friends owns a great online vintage store where you can find the neatest trinkets.  A coffee creamer in the shape of a cow was posted, and that got me thinking of repurposing.  Fred the cow is now gold, and has been repurposed into a pen holder.  You can get some great ideas and great stuff by checking out her Facebook Page by putting Wandaful Things, Trinkets, and Treasures in your search bar.
  • Plant Life: Greenery is always needed, and bonus is it cleans the nasty office air.
  • Various knick knacks, vintage paintings, art work, and other stuff that doesn’t make a lot of sense – just to make life a little more interesting.

So by now you must be asking yourself…what does any of this have to do with military life?  Well, the answer is actually a simple one.  It goes back to when I was 22 years of age, and my mom gave me the best advice that I have ever received.  I just found out that we received our first posting, and was moving away from everything I have ever known to the other side of the country.  I was not scared…I was terrified.  And that is when my mom told me “Life is what you chose to make it”.  If I think a posting will be bad, it will be.  But, if I chose to look at a posting as an opportunity to make friends and have new adventures – it will be great.  Things can go wrong, and there likely will be hard times ahead…but you make the choice to make the experience a good one or bad one.  In other words, life is too short to not enjoy the cube!

 

My First Blog Post…Please be Gentle

Welcome to Military Wife Strong!  Before we get started with everything that is military, here is a bit about myself and why I started this blog.  I have been a military wife since dinosaurs wore greens, and while some things change a lot stays the same.  Our loved ones always leave and we always hold down the fort, but there is still not very much support for those left behind.

And that is why I decided to start this blog…I wanted a place to reach out to my fellow spouses in arms, and create a resource where the hard questions can be answered like how do I face the first deployment, how do I deal with the stereo types people believe of me, and how do I survive the Christmas party?

So today I thought I would start with the some of the biggest mistruths out there about military life:

  1. When your spouse leaves on deployment, you will never see them:  This is something I heard over and over before my husband deployed for the first time, and I cannot express how much this bothered me back then.  This was mostly due to the information was coming from people who were not part of the military lifestyle.  I tried to push back the negativity I was hearing concerning the topic of deployment, and thought that I was mentally prepared for it.  I wasn’t.  No one ever is prepared for it.  It becomes your life.  Sometimes for months before your spouse leaves he does work ups which includes training, and appointments.  We were already burned out on talking about the deployment, and it didn’t even happen yet. Then we were posted to a TAC HEL Squadron or as it is nick named TAC HELL.  How can you prepare when your spouse comes home, tells you he is deploying for who knows how long in 12 hours?  The simple answer is you can’t.  Deployments are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the separations you will go through, not including crazy work hours.  Just because your spouse is home, it does not mean he is at home which is what very few of your family/civilian friends understand.  I wish there was a way for me to impart wisdom to you all in  how to handle this insane life.  All I can say is that if you love your spouse you support them, and keep the home fires burning #stillhurts #nevergetsbetter #lovemyman
  2. All of your dreams will go on hold or go away:  There is a stigma attached to military wives – they are all uneducated who stay at home to take care of the kids.  With all the rapid changes that military live brings, I feel like my life is either in fast forward when my spouse is home, or screeches to a halt when he is gone.  I dream for the day where we can find the “forever home” where I decorate for me, and not for resale.  Many wives do put things on hold for this life style: career, having kids, living near family, or pursuing their dreams.  Then others decide to still do everything despite of it.  Whatever your dream is whether it is raising children or career goals, anything is obtainable if you really want it and are willing to put in the work.  My dreams were to get my education, work in an industry I love, and travel.  I was able to get my education due to online learning which worked out for me because I HATE sitting in a classroom.  I am able to get great jobs in the industry I love due to because I have moved so much it allowed my to round my resume.  If my husband is unable to travel due to work, I go with my best friend.  I often wonder if I really took what I was told in the beginning to be truth if I would have somehow lived that way out of fear. #stayinschool
  3. No matter what job they do, the military will change them: I presumed that just because my husband was not in a direct front line job that being in the military would not change him since he is not seeing combat.  I thought that he would stay the same endlessly energetic, fun-loving man that I have always have known.  He is still that kid at heart, but with the combination of a high stress environment, endless deployments, and long separations he has changed.  He loves to take a nap after supper, and his work phone is chronically attached to his hand.  Sometimes I wonder if it is really worth the toll that the job is taking on him, but when I see the passion in his eye when he talks about his job I know that this is something he needs to do.
  4. The other spouses you will meet are great!  I am an eternal optimist, and presumed that everyone you will meet will be great, we would join arms, and sing camp fire songs together. In reality…not so much.  Just like in civilian life, sometimes people don’t get along.  Sometimes people are more interested in what your spouse’s rank is than about you.  In the beginning I thought that the friends and family I had was good enough.  But the truth of it is, as you age (military or not) friendships can run their course or family can become distant.  The military life can speed up this process.  The relationships you develop in the military community can go beyond friends.  They become family.  If it wasn’t for these relationships, I wouldn’t have made it through the hard times.  I am very thankful that no matter how hard life can be that I have incredibly strong, and inspiring people in my life that I met since I began this journey. 

So there you have it.  My first blog post done.  Let me know what you think, and send me some ideas on what you would like to hear more about.  To give you a taste for next time, I will be posting on ideas to make your workspace feel more at home.