Monday, February 25, 2013

And the Army Taketh Away..

I am sitting here in an almost empty villa.

All my household goods are gone and tomorrow the rest of my things will be taken or I will be taking them with me when I head to the Dragon Hill Lodge.

I cannot believe it has been three years now. Seoul, South Korea has become like a second home to me and there are many things that I will miss. Saying goodbye to friends I have made here is just as hard as saying goodbye to my battles when they have gone to their next duty stations. There is no language barrier among friends here in Seoul. A hug and a smile conveys great feeling and you would be surprised how much charades can get across to someone. I could soon be a pro at that game!

I have to admit that I thought this day would never come. I truly thought I would die here in Korea, my tour seemed never ending and towards the end it was nonstop work work and more work. There was no time to count the hours or the days. The end has come up fast and I find myself mourning over the things I put off doing for so long and now will not have the chance to do. I guess that just means that someday I will have to come back here and complete the things I missed.

I am off to Fort Huachuca, Arizona. I am excited over going back stateside, seeing family and friends, being able to read the road signs, drive a car faster than 60 km, and kiss the ground of the great ol' US of A. Many opportunities to grow my career are going to be happening now. Things that I had to put off due to the mission needing to be accomplished I can now concentrate on. I am looking forward to that and some really good gym PT!

I have lots of things I wish I could change about the last three years. Different decisions, different expectations for myself, and the like. But that is all over now and I cannot go back. I cannot change what has been and can now only look to the future with hope and high expectations. Life is like that I think, no matter where you go or what you do. You must have goals. You must be open to change. Otherwise, life leaves you in the dust and before you know it everyone has passed you up. Nothing stops growth. It is only our choices that decide where and how we do it.

Well, still lots to do and not enough time to do it in...take care all you faithful friends and mentors. Blessings to you all and pray that I do better blogging in Arizona than I did in Korea!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Army Giveth...

The Army has changed my life. This seems like a normal thing to have happen when such a change in lifestyle is required, but I have to admit that I did not expect it to have so much of an impact on me, and those close to me.

I remember when I first decided to join. There were so many things I had to accomplish before taking the oath and signing on the line (okay, there were MANY lines) of a contract with the American people. Yes, it is a contract. With Americans. A contract that says that I will do everything in my power to protect the freedoms that they have become accustomed to in the great country we were lucky enough to live in, even to the point of death.

The first steps were emotional ones, introspective ones. Can I do this? At 40? Can I survive Basic Training? If I do survive, can I live with someone telling me how to live every minute of my day and sometimes my night? Can I wrap my head around all these requirements to fulfill my duties?

The answers started coming when I changed my eating habits, joined some kickboxing classes, boxing classes, and started all the physical aspects of preparing for training. My body adjusted as I grew more fit and my mind grew more clear as the time moved on and I got closer to my "ship" date. My body and mind became determined, focused, and my self confidence improved.

After graduating from Basic Training, I realized that the self confidence I thought I had before didn't even compare to the woman I had now become. My friends saw the difference and told me that the Army was the best thing that had happened to me emotionally. And the body I got wasn't so bad either. It felt good to feel and look better than I had since I was a young woman. Everything I was able to accomplish made me realize that there was nothing that I couldn't do. When I thought I just couldn't take one more step, I found that, yes, I really could.

I had gained self respect as well. I spent a lot of time in my own head. Hours of rucking, standing in formation, endless hours of no talking; all contributed to a new self awareness. Every time I accomplished something, even physically, it took an emotional leap, a respect for myself and my abilities. Abilities I might not yet know I had.

That self confidence and self respect led to a new contentment with the person I was becoming. The anger that I had always held close dissipated. My priorities shifted and I took on the task of being a Soldier. As I learned my warrior tasks and drills, I found that the importance of what I do overshadows all the bullshit that accompanies any corporate type job and any feelings of boredom are quickly displaced with more training. There is always training!

I have been given so much by assuming my role in history as a Soldier. It isn't always ideal and there are issues I still deal with by being an older woman in the military full of the young and inexperienced, but overall, I have to say I have gotten far more out of the Army than I have been able to give in return.

So far. I plan on giving for a while yet.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Is It Over? Already? Again?

Well, it's that time again. You know. When New Year Resolutions are made and the future looks bright with hopes and dreams. I could make all kinds of resolutions, but I imagine it will go the way of last year. My motivation will last for a few weeks and then the daily grind of life will kick me in the teeth a few times, I will learn my lesson, and then return to the same old me. Full of good intentions and dreams...

I do have to say that, unless there is money involved, I can pretty much make my dreams come true. IF I want them bad enough. When there is money involved, I usually resort to wishing I could win the lottery... which I never play... This year though, I will keep my dreams and resolutions simple and reachable.

I have some career goals... to be the best little Army Court Reporter I can be, to go to the promotion board and get picked up for Sergeant. To put my packet in for an Army scholarship to get my Master's Degree in Art Therapy, then direct commission as an Army officer. (Don't get me wrong, I like being a court reporter, but my passion is people...)

I also want to be sure my Mom has a permanent place. One that cannot be taken from her. She alone has given her full support and unconditional love to me since the day I was born. I want to be there for her and I want to live close to love on her for a long time.

I want to continue to make a difference in the lives of people I meet every day. I want to be a force for good. Wait... I was going to keep it simple... that isn't always simple... and sometimes, regardless of my best intentions, it isn't always reachable. However, there must be some kudos for effort... no matter what, I will, once again, start the year out with a positive attitude...

Oh, and maybe, just maybe, I will get this blogging thing back on my to-do list... I hope I can find enough to say! :p

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Determination Rules the Day

Well, it has been one full week in Court Reporter Class here at the JAG School in Charlottesville, Virginia. The University of Virginia Campus is beautiful and the Residence Inn where I am staying is quite nice. All is well. So far.

I have managed to pass the first two exams and took the third one today. Today's exam was longer and harder than the other two and I lost track of time. I completed it, but barely! Most of the time I am the first one done but this time I was one of the last two! Craziness!

The only thing that worries me is the tape test that I will inevitably have to do when I am over my max weight. The PT test itself should be fine - I have some time to get my push ups and my run "up to speed." The sit ups have not been a problem for me before, so I don't anticipate them being a problem now. If only I could trade push ups and sit ups with one of the guys in my class - what a great PT test that would be! UGH!! This stresses me more than anything else - I want to just get myself down below my max weight. You wouldn't think that would be hard, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to lose any weight at all, no matter what diet and exercise program I follow. :(

Despite this, I am actually having a good time in class. Our instructors have been both informative and fun. The area I am in is wonderful and has all kinds of things I never knew I missed. There is a Chick-Fil-A here that my hubby wants a milkshake from - not quite sure how to send that to Korea... There is a Waffle House for my hangover from the partying I am going to do after I pass that damn PT test and Tape... There are all kinds of places to find clothes for my leave after I graduate... (I need shorts.) I am sure there is a Jazz Bar somewhere here I can go to in order to chill after a long week of learning... and I cannot wait to go horseback riding in the Shenandoah State Park. I am sure that will be the highlight of my stay here in the great State of Virginia (sorry JAG School.)

I am loving the opportunities that the Army is giving me. There are always days when I want my old, unaccountable life back, but really, I have to ask myself if my life would truly be better out of the Army. I don't think so. I hope the Army will keep me around a while.

There are major changes in the military these days. We are weeding out the too old and too weak and the unwilling. I hope to not be considered as any one of these. I am steadily taking care of all the things that would hold me back from being the capable, strong and determined soldier that the Army wants and needs. I hope my chain of command sees the effort and guides me with the best of their ability. And where they will surely let me down, I am resolved to reach deep and pull that guidance from within.

I will not let someone else decide whether I succeed or not.

Army Strong HOOAH!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Singing with the Radio

For over a year now I have been saying that there is nothing about the states that I miss other than family and friends...

I flew into San Francisco from Incheon, South Korea on Saturday, the 23rd of July. Customs was fairly simple and didn't take too long, however, I highly recommend giving yourself a two hour window for connections or you might end up running to your next gate with your shoes in your hand. Once I arrived at Washington-Dulles it was just a matter of getting my bags and shuttling to Budget to rent my car. I drove a few minutes south and stayed at a Marriott in Westfields. Gorgeous place. It was night and I was exhausted and I hadn't thought much about being back home.

On Sunday, I slept in, ordered room service and then left the hotel rested and refreshed. I was given a Toyota Corolla to drive and after driving my little Hoopty in Korea, I must say it was a really nice change of pace. I don't think I have driven over 40 miles per hour since I left home over a year ago and to be able to drive over 60 again was such a great feeling. Not to mention that the roads seemed wide enough for two and there were no pedestrians! As I was driving and listening to stations that were NOT AFN, and enjoying the wide roads, I realized that I had missed it here. Immensely!

I passed farms and farmer's markets, recognizable store signs, traffic signs I could read, and mountains that rose in the distance. There were houses large and small, and businesses large and small, and just an amazing openness of space. I had lived in wall to wall buildings and with wall to wall people for so long that I had forgotten how it felt to live and drive in wide open spaces.

As I sang along with the radio I realized that while I really enjoyed living in Seoul, and experiencing another culture, nothing will ever replace my country. This way of life that is so good. It gives me a new found pride in my home, in my country - something to fight for. And that feels good.

I have missed my America.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Adventure Can Wait a Day or Two... or Seven.

I love the Army. I love being in the Army. But there are some things that make being in the Army a real pain in the ass. Like feeling unwell for instance. I could boil the whole scenario down to two words; no compassion.

I think there is some kind of pressure to think that since we are soldiers, we must not give into sickness; we must push through the pain and keep on keeping on. That is all well and good, but quite frankly, there are days in the military when I would prefer to just have the job, and not the adventure. Truly.

The process goes like this... you wake up ill, or maybe you have spent the whole night in the ER and you just cannot get yourself up and moving in the morning for physical training. Maybe you are too terrified to venture more than 15 feet from the bathroom, but get up you must. And this is why.

You have to go to sick call for a slip that says you can stay home. Seriously.

It doesn't matter that you are dumping the contents of your stomach every 5 minutes, or that you are delirious with fever. You must get yourself to sick call. And why? Paperwork.

Case in point. Recently I had to have surgery. Granted it was outpatient and not very intrusive, but I had surgery nonetheless and I was in a bit of discomfort. Although the drugs helped with that, I really just wanted to stay home and sleep. No can do! Since my doctor had generously granted me convalescent leave instead of just quarters, I had to fill out a leave form and submit it to my supervisor. Now you would think that under the circumstances I could print out the form and fill it out, sign it and scan it, then email it to my supervisor for my records, right from the comfort of my own home. But no. I had to go into the office, the day after surgery and fill it out on my office computer so it had a digital signature. Really?

Now let me just interject something about my supervisor here. It wasn't her that was insisting on the digital signature but her supervisor... I need to say that MY NCO is amazing. She is a new Sergeant and she makes her soldiers needs a priority. She was going to bring to my house something that would allow me to do all this from home, but I could not see adding even more to her already long week of work. I wanted her to look good without all the added trouble. So I went to the office. I would take a bullet for her, and I would follow her wherever she needed me. Her supervisor, on the other hand, is on her own.

Anyway, yesterday, I woke up ill. Nausea and cold sweats alternated with stomach cramps and an intense fatigue. It sucked. But I dragged my weary self to work anyway because I HATE sick call.

Needless to say, I made it through the day and actually started feeling better by the end of it. But man, it was one of those times when I longed for a civilian job and a less accountable life style. The adventure could have waited another day...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

No. You Don't Have My Permission...

...To make me feel inferior because you are consumed with your own importance.
...To belittle and demean other soldiers in front of me.
...To use your rank as an excuse to exercise power over my mind and body.
...To express thoughts and make comments like you know me, when you clearly do not.
...To threaten me.
...To judge me based on office gossip.
...To decide my future based on your personal feelings about me instead of my performance in my job.
...To lead me astray from Army Values because you see no need to cultivate those qualities in yourself.
...To think I can't shoot because I am a "girl."

On the other hand, you DO have my permission...

...To get help deflating your head so as to get through the office door.
...To counsel soldiers in the way they should go respectfully and with your own good example.
...To use your rank to aid me when I need help and boost my confidence to lead others.
...To get to know me as a person and as a soldier, in a group... when I am not armed.
...To help me practice my Combatives training, again in a group, when I am not armed.
...To stop office gossip by shutting your own mouth.
...To give me the tools I need to decide my future plans and assist me in starting that process.
...To cultivate the Army Values that you have strayed from so heinously.
and
...To stand in as a target so I can practice not shooting "like a girl."