Monday, January 31, 2011

The Good Napkins

Someone emailed the following story to me and it made me giggle, which I've been needing to do more often lately. I have no idea where it originated, or if it's even true. Does it matter anyway? I think not. I figured I'd share it with you in hopes that it will make you giggle as well... Enjoy!


My mother taught me to read when I was four years old (her first mistake). One day I was in the bathroom and noticed one of the cabinet doors was ajar. I read the box in the cabinet. I then asked my mother why she was keeping "napkins" in the bathroom. Didn't they belong in the kitchen? Not wanting to burden me with unnecessary facts, she told me that those were for "special occasions" (her second mistake).

Now fast forward a few months .... It's Thanksgiving Day, and my folks are leaving to pick up my uncle and his wife for dinner. Mom had assignments for all of us while they were gone. Mine was to set the table.

When they returned, my uncle came in first and immediately burst into laughter. Next came his wife who gasped, and then began giggling. Next came my father, who roared with laughter. Last came Mom, who almost died of embarrassment when she saw each place setting on the table with a "special occasion" Kotex napkin at each plate, with the fork carefully arranged on top. I had even tucked the little tail in so they didn't hang off the edge!

My mother asked me why I used these and, of course, my response sent the other adults into further fits of laughter. "But, Mom, you said they were for special occasions!"

Pass this on to your girlfriends who need a good laugh.

Life is too short for drama & petty things, so kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly... and for heaven's sake, use the good napkins whenever you can.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Where do I belong?

Do you ever feel like a spectator, seemingly always observing, but never truly participating in anything? That's sort of where I am at this point in my life. I don't say that to garner sympathy, only to perhaps see if anyone else is experiencing a similar feeling, and if so, how you're handling it.

The military lifestyle has called our family to move frequently, which has naturally meant that we've found ourselves in unfamiliar surroundings and situations over the years. We've been the "new family" in the _____________ (Fill in the blank with whatever word happens to be appropriate... squadron, church, school) many, many times. That doesn't normally bother me, as I'm not particularly shy, but I think the tables are turning for me and I'm finding that I'm not as comfortable in these settings as I once was, and I'm growing weary of being that new person everywhere I go.

You're probably familiar with the phrase "Bloom where you're planted." That's been my mantra for years. I know that we're only going to be residing in a place for a short time, and I have a choice of either sitting at home all alone or embracing my new surroundings, which, for me, means exploring the area, meeting new people and getting involved. I end up investing in a group of friends and it's always hard to leave and move on to the next place. I think that's the way it should be.

Leaving Spain to move back to the States was difficult. I had an awesome group of close friends and we did everything together. I think overseas assignments can tend to be very intimidating and isolating, therefore they lend themselves well to these types of tight-knit relationships. While I knew I was blessed to be there and to have these wonderful women in my life, I truly had no idea just how blessed. Don't you hate figuring these things out after the fact? I'd have treasured those people and that time in my life even more if I'd only known then what I know now.

I really thought that moving back to the States would be a fairly easy transition though. I mean, we'd lived in this area of Illinois before, so it was familiar territory. We had a church lined up, a beautiful home we'd purchased and good schools for the boys (That's debatable at times, but that's another post). So why do I feel this way? And what does "this way" mean? I can't verbalize it other than to say that it's unfamiliar to me and not at all what I'd expected.

Our military base is very "rank heavy," meaning there are lots of high-ranking officers stationed here. I have been in several situations over the last 6 months that have left me feeling very unwelcomed and discontented, situations where people are obviously name dropping, I suppose to impress others with the fact that they know "So & So." I've endured conversations where all people can talk about is their husbands' jobs and who's making general. I think it's great that people are being promoted, and they have my respect, especially considering how difficult it can be to make such a high rank, not to mention the time and attention their jobs require. I just know that these folks put on their pants the same way I do every day.

Quite frankly, I'm not interested in superficial relationships at this point in my life because they have no substance. I don't want to get to know someone just because her spouse is a general. Don't people see the insincerity of those who so are so obviously playing the game? I just want to be friends with someone because I enjoy her company and have a common interest. I don't really care what her spouse does. Does rank have to be a prerequisite for friendship?

I'm extremely proud of my husband for his military accomplishments because I know he's worked very hard in his career. I admire his stamina and dedication to being the best he can be, but not just in terms of his military career. I'm even more proud of the person he is, and how blessed the boys and I are that he's my husband and their father. My husband's rank has no real bearing on my feelings for him. Am I proud that he's earned his rank? Yes, of course I am. Does it make him more important/special in my eyes? No, it does not. And more to the point, does/should his rank elevate me as a person? Absolutely not! I could go the rest of my life without hearing "What does your husband do?" and be just fine.

I've always considered myself to be outgoing and hospitable. I'm all about inclusion and have tried to go out of my way over the years to reach out to newcomers, knowing how it feels to be in their shoes, and also knowing how great it is to be on the receiving end of a warm welcome. There's no better feeling!

I don't feel warmth here, not yet anyway. I'm still searching, and trying not to let my own judgmental feelings get in the way. Not everyone is careless and calculating. I know there are other women here who want the same things I do. I'm attempting to surround myself with positive, genuine people. One of the loneliest feelings for me is not having a sense of belonging. I no longer belong to the group of people I just left, and I don't yet belong to a group of people in my new surroundings. In the meantime, I wonder... Where DO I belong? God willing, I will eventually figure that out, hopefully sooner than later.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm still kickin'... and cleanin'

It's been several weeks since my last post, and I wonder if I can remember how to do this blogging thing. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's have all come and gone and now it's mid-January. For heaven's sake, I feel like I've lost a huge chunk of my life in the blink of an eye.

To be completely honest, I haven't felt like I had that much to share with anyone. I guess after having lived overseas and traveled to so many incredible places, it doesn't seem particularly exciting to write about my day-to-day life in Illinois.

Then again, maybe, just maybe, you might find my daily adventures amusing, because I manage to do a lot of really goofy things... things that would probably boost your self-esteem by several points. And of course I share all of this with my readers, all 3 of you, because it's like a community service kind of deal. I'm here for YOU!

Need an example of a goofy thing I've done? I'm happy to oblige. Just two days ago, I opened my refrigerator and discovered it reeked of something really strong, but I couldn't quite put my finger on the cause. I started moving items around on the very full shelves (Thank you, Lord, for lots of food to eat!), and finally determined the odor was coming from a jar of pickled beets that had overturned in the back of the refrigerator.

Oh, okay... no problem, I figured. I would just wipe up the mess and be done. That's not how it went down... not even close. This turned out to be a 2-hour ordeal that required the removal of every single jar, bottle, baggie, package and plastic bowl we owned, as well as all of the shelves and drawers themselves. Yep, that reddish pickled beet juice was everywhere. I kid you not. How could that much juice be in one little jar of pickled beets? Enough to drain out and splatter onto (and into) three shelves, three drawers, down the back of the refrigerator, onto the wound up water tubing, and then of course it pooled in the very bottom too. Just a fantastic mess! I can make 'em, I tell ya!

I should have taken a photo, but I was so on the verge of tears that it didn't occur to me at the time. The first 15 minutes of cleaning wasn't that bad, but that's because I hadn't realized to what extent my refrigerator was covered in pickled beet juice. Once I fully understood the serious cleaning job that awaited me, I began to mutter to myself, and eventually laugh, and I don't mean just a chuckle. I mean hysterical laughing, out of control laughing, the kind that could worry others who happen to be in your presence.

Just so you know, this exact scenario happened to me just a year or so ago. Yep, pickled beets and I don't have a good track record together. Maybe that's my cue to stop buying them. In fact, I feel pretty certain God Himself is trying to tell me that I need to cut pickled beets out of my diet altogether. You know what? Message received!

On a positive note, my refrigerator is spotless now. Don't envy.