figuring it out

16 Oct

everyone,

somehow three entire months have passed since i last wrote on here – the entire summer! it’s taken that amount of time for me to want to refer to tacoma as home, which it now it is.

our house is a sanctuary, our neighborhood is full of kind people, i’ve mastered the tacoma bus system (and am super excited that a mass-transit pass is part of my tuition at UW), i now know how to chain my bike up without it taking 15 minutes, i have people to share my life with, my master’s program has finally begun (and i LOVE it – even with the ridiculous amounts of reading and weekly 10 page papers), and i am starting an internship at the city of tacoma in two weeks! this weekend, kelsey and i were out for drinks and we were talking about the social norm of answering “fine” to the question “how are you?” without actually saying how you are. but i realized, that for the first time in a very long time i can firmly answer that question truthfully! i am fine! (as long as i don’t think about the political/social/environmental situation in our world.)

so, to catch everyone up here are select photos of our adventures from the last few months! with the hope that i can make time to keep this blog updated!

IMG_9345mommy visited chris and i, so of course we hiked up to tolmie peak

IMG_9418
when she visited, we drove up to vancouver to go to the kit and ace store and also ride a beautiful 10 mile loop around their giant park with breathtaking views!
IMG_9465i’ve been making a concerted effort to involve myself in the tacoma community! here i am during SKY’s “yoga in the park” day – it was marvelous.

IMG_9535
in the same realm as before, upon moving i knew i needed a new friendship backbone. and this beautiful soul is the core of my new social life <3
IMG_9592
then, i flew back to the east coast, where i was reminded with cumulus clouds are, and my daddy came home to visit!! all four of us together!!
IMG_9654
and then nick was a champion, and proposed to his love, lisa. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THEM TO GET MARRIED SO I CAN LEGALLY HAVE A SISTER <3
IMG_9776
here’s a photo from a typical day of work for me currently. going to job locations and interviewing their veterans/military spouses and also posing with excellent wallpaper!!
IMG_9782
again, friendship is happening <3 moving is strange and it takes awhile to feel like you belong – but we are making it happen, together.
IMG_9818
here’s a photo of matt and chris in canoes during our double date/trip to bend, oregon!
IMG_0083
mommy and i flew to LA to meet up and celebrate my cousin elizabeth get married to trevor! so much love AND so much fun, i love my mommy!
us2
lol this one is too good not to post.

IMG_0279
and then the next wedding the marvelous, brilliant, beautiful (and my PFF) kitty came to visit me for a weekend! i made her hike up a mountain to a lake even though she was fasting! (that’s the kind of friend i am, kind of overbearing lol)
IMG_0353
lol one more of kitty and i and chris, of course blurry because we were power walking to ice cream social.
IMG_0428and then last weekend we attended another wedding! but this time it was in nashville and it was for tim and danielle, our old neighbors and precious friends. mommy came to that one too. but for us, the fall wedding circuit is over!

xoxo,
annie
(p.s. i promise to write more)

Advertisements

on “transitioning”

13 Jul

ok i am back! now that i have shared a bunch of beautiful pictures, i have some reality i wish to discuss with my online followers.

as you may or may not know, june 30th was my last day in the army. the last day i’ve been paid and the last day i could answer the question, “so what do you do” with a real answer. yes, i know, i am now technically a student, but classes for my master’s program don’t start until september. i took a lot of pride in having a career and working for my money and supporting christopher and i’s life together. i didn’t know how much i valued paying for my own groceries and items and bills until, quite recently, i haven’t been able to do so.

i digress. i began my “ETS leave” at the beginning of may, and although i wasn’t going to work, i definitely wasn’t relaxing. i started leave at the beginning of christopher’s week of graduating vanderbilt medical school, so i was hosting relatives and shuttling people and hosting a party and dinners – and although it all was AMAZING having the family in town and chris graduating and getting promoted to captain (!), i didn’t have a chance to really think about what was happening in my life. then the monday after his graduation, the movers came to pack, and then they loaded our worldly possessions up and then we drove across the country.

before we knew it, we were in tacoma with a week to kill before the movers brought our things – so we filled our time adventuring and eating voodoo doughnuts in portland. then the movers came, we set up our house and chris started orientation at the hospital on june 1.

the first day chris was gone, i started my thirty day study plan for the PMP exam. thus began my weekday life for the next month, studying for about four hours every morning and then job searching and applying for jobs in the afternoon. when he came home at the end of the day, i was frustrated with what i saw as my foreseeable future (at least until september when classes began). i explained my feelings with him, but as the days went on i became more and more distraught. it is easy to pretend to the world that life is all rainbows and butterflies on instagram – i mean, it isn’t all a smokescreen. i do love living here and everything is beautiful and perfect when i’m out exploring our new town, but the moment i get home i felt like i wasn’t contributing to the world in any real way. it is truly discouraging to feel like your resume is strong and your experience meaningful, and then not have that validated in any way.

during my four months in the hiring our heros program, we received SO MANY lectures about how “transitioning” (i keep putting it in quotes because i don’t like that this is the verb we use to describe leaving the army and entering the civilian sector) is hard and different. but truly, i thought it would be fine for me, or at least i would feel fine. i knew finding a job would take time, and logically i knew it would be harder because i am looking for a part time job in the non profit world while i’m in school, and all of the junior officer recruiters are looking for full time employees for the corporate world. but it really brought me down and i started to realize i didn’t even know where to start. online applications are so impersonal and i didn’t think i was getting any traction (i did get one interview from an online application though. but one out of like twenty.)

after one particularly tearful night with christopher, he sat down with me and looked over job boards with me and encouraged me to contact the veteran affairs office at UWT because when we had visited there previously someone had told me that the woman in charge was a west pointer (i was so hesitant to reach out to anyone – probably my pride problem). so i reached out to her, and to the person in charge of the hiring our heros coordinator at JBLM. one thing let to another and i started meeting face to face with some community leaders in tacoma, and i eventually was recommended to meet one amazing woman, who also is a veteran, and business owner and general superstar in the community. i reached out to her and since that day (just over a week ago lol), my life has felt like it is moving in the correct direction. i’ve signed up for many networking and community events because of her (yes, they are uncomfortable, and reaching out to strangers is awkward, but building a network is so essential, as she’s teaching me). and on tuesday i attended the greater tacoma community foundation’s women’s economic opportunity workshop because my new mentor was a speaker on one of the panels. she literally took me by the hand to meet two other women that could help me, and i have another meeting next week to talk about life and where my path should lead with one of them. i was encouraged to be surrounded by people trying to improve tacoma for women, and by doing that, for everyone.

she’s encouraged me to truly take some time off. and it has helped so much. even simply having the mindset that it is ok to take a break (and not scouring job boards every hour of every day) to figure out what makes you happy and centered. i passed my PMP exam sunday (!) and i had an incredible interview yesterday at a company i can stand behind. although i haven’t had any job offers, i feel so much better opening my lines of communication and meeting so many amazing leaders in this community. i feel like i’m on the right path. i’ve been collecting business cards like pokemon cards, and reaching out to every person i’ve met and exchanged information with.

my story isn’t an actual success story, but to me it already feels like a success story. because i am meeting people and integrating myself into our new community. of course, i hope soon to make at least a little bit of money to offset tuition costs and to not have to ask chris permission (barf) to buy whatever i want from anthroplogie’s sale. but these relationships are more important than working somewhere i am miserable.  so i guess my main message here is: human interaction is essential, and admitting you don’t know what you are doing is humbling and hard but has led me to some great places already.

it has been hard to my independent pride to come to terms that i am unemployed. i am extremely privileged to be able to say this and to be able to take my time with my next move. i also admit that i am so so lucky to have chris and money saved and food on the table. i want to work somewhere where i can help those not quite as fortunate. and by dipping my toe into the beautiful nonprofit pool that exists in tacoma, i feel like my dream of doing that is much closer than it was a month ago. i already owe so much to this woman who has been helping me (due to privacy and such i’m withholding her name), but what a game changer.

my advice to you, if you’re considering leaving the service or a job in general, is to have a plan – but realize that the plan needs to be flexible and you need people to help you. try to build a network where you’re headed – hang up your pride hat on the peg on the wall, and realize that almost everyone has been where you’ve been, and will offer help – but you have to ask, first.

xoxo,
annie

IMG_8168

needless to say i totally made the right decision to leave, for me. but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t going to be challenges.

first impressions

13 Jul

hello everyone! i know, radio silence again. i’m about to create two posts: this one sharing some of my first impressions of our new area, and then i will write one about the reality of my brand new life. bottom line, my life is full of change right now – but there is no better place to be experiencing this change.

what great scenery and weather:

IMG_8702

cannon beach, oregon – may 25, 2017

this is a picture on the oregon coast (cannon beach)! i’ve never lived out west before so everything is novel and beautiful and so different from the east coast scenery i was surrounded by for the majority of my life. also, i say this while knocking on wood, of the almost two whole months we have been here, the temperature has been above 90 degrees once (and ironically it was when my mother in law visited from texas, bringing the heat with her lol). pretty consistently this summer the high has been mid 70’s and low mid 50’s. so basically, it is perfect. (i mean, then you of course are running the risk of earthquake + the volcano erupting + giant tidal wave lol)

our new home is precious:

IMG_8781

the view of our dining room table from the couch

seriously we are so so lucky. we had a friend take a look at this place for us the day it went on the rental market, and trusted his good review, and signed a lease. so lots of trepidation when we showed up to see if on day one. thankfully we are IN LOVE. it is our first stand alone house together and having a deck is so nice. i never thought i’d understand the allure of buying a house, but we are in an incredible neighborhood where i want to own everyone’s home haha.

 

trivia is hard:

IMG_8878

trivia night at the odd otter (our favorite local brewery/bar)

i don’t know if it is because we moved from a very small town with only one bar, but trivia here kicks our butt almost every time we go. we even got the last place prize the first week we played haha. but another great part of tacoma is everyone seems to love being here and chatting with strangers at the bar, we’ve had some great conversations with random people. the night i took this photo, some people were visiting from portland to go to the america’s car museum downtown.

boat travel:

IMG_8899

the parliament building in victora, british columbia, canada

when i was googling around to brainstorm ideas for chris and i’s second wedding anniversary trip, i stumbled upon the fact that you can take boats to surrounding islands and locations in the puget sound! we took a three hour boat trip to victoria, british columbia and we already want to return to do a whale watching trip next time.

 

bike obsession:

IMG_8928

craigdarroch castle in victoria, bc – june 16, 2017

chris and i are currently very obsessed with our bikes (probably our best purchases in the last year or so). maybe it is because we live in such close proximity to awesome things (grocery stores, bars, restaurants, museums, libraries, etc) and taking our bikes is just as fast as a car (due to stop lights and signs), and we don’t have to pay for parking, AND it makes our lives a little greener. also it is super fun, especially now while the weather is nice.

FRESH PRODUCE//BERRIES IS/ARE AMAZING:

IMG_8990

tacoma farmer’s market on broadway

this is a pretty obvious statement. but i guess the pacific northwest is known for its incredible berry growing environment – namely stone fruits. i am now cherry obsessed and have been freezing berries to bake with when they go out of season, already haha. tacoma has four or five farmers markets through the week, and i’ve really enjoyed sampling all of the farms’ offerings. also our diet has become about 80% berries. so that’s good?

 

mountain lakes are other-worldly:

IMG_9147

crescent lake in olympic national park – july 3, 2017

i’ve started to enjoy being outside! i don’t know if it was because of west point and grueling summers in the humid woods, or because i have never lived anywhere beautiful enough to warrant just existing in – but now i get hiking. the air is cool and crisp and the hikes are starting to open up in all of the surrounding national parks (i’m the dummy that didn’t realize many are snow ridden way into the summer). but because of all of this snow, the lakes and streams are the most beautiful colors. just amazing.

IMG_9228

july 7, 2017

here is chris overlooking some of rainier national park (and also note the snow in july).

IMG_9247

july 7, 2017

me at the tolmie fire outlook in rainier national park overlooking mount rainier. that giant, powerful beauty (long term tacoma goal is to do the actual hike to the top of the mountain… way in the future though since i am firmly an amateur).

 

a sense of community:IMG_9284this probably feels so foreign to us since chris and i lived in a very sparsely populated town in pleasant view, but tacoma is an actual town and is bursting to the seams with pride and events. and also these adorable tiny libraries on almost every block. we also got invited to a block party last weekend! people just seem to love being here, and that is an amazing vibe to be part of.

so, i guess what i am trying to say is that i don’t want to leave. (come visit!!)

xoxo,
annie

we drove across the country!

24 May

hello, readers!

i am happy to report that i am writing this from our new little home in tacoma, washington! we made the journey (and had our internet installed today), so i wanted to share a photo from each day of our cross-country road trip. i have a lot more to say about many things, but this will have to suffice for now.

wednesday 17 may:
we left pleasant view, tennessee at 0430 in the morning. we planned about a 12 hour driving day (our longest by far) so we left early – but since i was so excited to get started, i didn’t sleep much to begin with haha. below is a picture from a little town called dakota dunes, south dakota where we stopped for the night – i took this photo on a run!

IMG_8398

thursday may 18:
on day 2 we drove to rapid city, south dakota. we spent that whole day delighting in south dakota! i’ve never driven across the state east to west, but the landscape is ever changing and beautiful. although we also checked out mount rushmore, nestled in the black hills, here is a crazy photo from the bad lands national park! (also, that hat did fly off of my head once, and i had to chase it down before it was swallowed into the landscape)

IMG_6046

friday may 19:
we drove to bozeman, montana on this day. we started off, though, driving to deadwood so chris could see the town that was the basis of the deadwood hbo show he loves. it snowed!!! it was snowing in may deep in the black hills and it was wild to me (especially since we didn’t get any snow in tennessee this winter). anyway, montana is breathtaking. i had never been there before, so i pulled off on many exits just to take a photo of the scenery. like below:

IMG_8467

saturday may 20:
after a super fun night out in bozeman (seriously!), we woke up early to first drive to yellowstone before we continued our journey. this was a great decision. we drove around yellowstone national park for about five hours gazing on the rugged terrain and prairies, and seeing SO MANY BISON! i loved it. i would have pet them if i wasn’t so scared/or if the park rangers weren’t right there telling people not to haha. after we went to yellowstone, we drove back up into the mountains to whitefish, mt.

IMG_8524

sunday may 21:
whitefish was amazing and i already miss it. it is a little ski town north of the beautiful flathead lake and we are obsessed. with the scenery, the people, the restaurants and breweries and the vibe in general. our first night there we went to dinner and the waiter asked us how we were doing – and, i kid you not, he answered for us with “of course you’re great, because you’re here!” and i agreed with him! anyway. on sunday we woke up and drove to glacier national park! below is a photo of chris playing in the crystal clear water. we also went on a hike up to avalanche lake, and thankfully i didn’t have to use my bear spray (the thought of even using it terrified me – bears are scary!).

IMG_8598

monday may 22:
monday was the last leg of our journey!! we drove through the rest of montana, and then through eastern washington – which has a very high prairie feeling. below is a photo of this incredible overlook which shows the arid quality of east washington – but also the elevation.

IMG_8652

end!
we made it!! over the length of the drive, my car gained over 3,000 miles (we took my car through the extra expeditions off of the route, since i left room in the passenger seat for a second person haha) and we drove through ten states!! 1/5 of america in one go! my main take away is that america really is america the beautiful. we didn’t go for more than four hours without the landscape changing completely. i entered this trip with a lot of trepidation and anxiety, but it ended up being so much fun. i’m super glad chris planned in an extra night in whitefish, so we could have a little break. because believe it or not, i got sore from driving?? my shoulders and neck and back needed a break from being seated and alert all day.

needless to say, we now live in the pacific north west in an adorable old home we are renting. step one of huge-life-change complete!
IMG_8686(we went to lowes and immediately bought some deck chairs lol)

xoxo,
annie

a look back at some photos five years ago

7 May

everyone,

i can hardly believe in am saying this, but on friday i signed out on terminal leave from the army. it’s been an interesting ride, and i am thankful for the people i have met and the places i have been sent to – but i am eager to begin the next segment of my life! so to celebrate many years in uniform, here are a bunch of photos of me from five years ago…

IMG_2021 2

may 2012 – west point – graduation parade rehearsal

IMG_2051

after the actual graduation parade and we walked across the plain for the last time!

IMG_2057

may 2012 – west point – kitty and i at the graduation banquet with our moms!IMG_2039

a photo of me after graduation ceremony trying to be a rebel.

IMG_2029
and here are kitty and i shaping our berets for the first time. and now both of us have served our commitment and are done with the army!IMG_3042

and now here i am at fort gordon during BOLC nerding out with some signal equipment ! july 2012.

IMG_2900

and then at BOLC learning some radios!

stretch

and here’s a good one of me stretching before combatives haha aug 2012.

and now five years later i am done! it still hasn’t totally hit me. but i do know that in ten days we are driving to washington state to begin our new life!

xoxo,
annie

feisty me

11 Apr

written while watching “the collection” on amazon (i am obsessed. fashion design + paris + beautiful garments + murder and intrigue)

hello! today i “graduated” from the program i have been in for the last four months. if you’re curious, here is a link to their page. the department of commerce supports this amazing program (hiring our heroes) which gives veterans leaving the service a chance to pad their resume with some real job experience and prepare us for our big transition (and has led to job offers and leads within my cohort)! i loved my time with amazon, and am feeling much more prepared for what comes next (even though it won’t be with amazon since i am headed to grad school).

IMG_0878 anyway, with this program finished, i have 23 days left in the army. time to get all of my stuff in order!

the other day, i was out with one of my friends who has recently joined my army unit. i’ve never before had a friend join whatever unit i am part of, which has allowed me the free reign to lead and act as i feel necessary at work without people hearing about me or hearing what other people have said about me. you know how people can talk – and in an army unit full of primarily men, i’ve sometimes wondered what people said about my leadership style and actions behind my back. not because i’ve done anything wrong, but because i think i act much differently than the status quo of male military man. i am passionate and loud and full of opinions, and i’ve learned over the years not to let a conflicting opinion stop my train.

anyway, he is working with a man who i once worked with, and our paths used to cross often. when i asked my friend what said man thought of me, he said he said “although we didn’t agree on everything, she certainly is feisty.

i’ll go with that. my legacy to the army will be my feisty actions. and yes, i will focus on the positive connotations of that word haha.

xoxo,
annie

we are moving to tacoma (and six months i’ve forgotten)

5 Apr

hello everyone! so my favorite english/american bestie has officially started her blog (after being unable to due to studying for her law exams), and it has reminded me that i haven’t posted anything in six months.

biggest life point: we are moving to tacoma, washington in may! christopher will begin his journey as a doctor at madigan hospital in june. i am so proud of him! and i am SO EXCITED to move to the pacific north west (please see one of my many posts about how i am eager to leave the south). and also in may, i leave the army!

to fast forward through the months i have missed i will post just two photos from each month:

november:

nov 1

the first important point of november 2016 was that i proudly cast my vote for hillary clinton is this solid red state of tennessee. i cast that vote as a very disillusioned american. to be honest, i also haven’t written much because i have felt so many intense emotions (mostly negative) about the election and i didn’t want to announce them here. needless to say: i am not happy. but i have been buoyed by the women’s march and the activists fighting for what is just and kind and i have began a journey towards helping our country in the small way i think i can handle. but more on that soon.
nov 2chris and i took our yearly photos for our new years card at my family’s home in virginia. it was beautiful and dad has some awesome photo ideas haha.

december:

dec 1
daddy drove over to tennessee for a quick weekend to help me buy a new car! my jetta was affected by the vw diesel scandal – but my buy back gave me a hefty down payment on my new car. also, we spent christmas in houston with the wallaces, which was also great!
dec 2
for new years, our friends kristen, lisa, and becca came to stay with us for a couple of days of fun to ring in 2017! here is a photo of lisa and i before we went downtown. in exciting news, lisa is my brother’s girlfriend! (!!!) it’s awesome because she is a strong, independent woman who is also a veterinarian and also a super cool person and awesome and was became part of our lives because her and chris were friends in BOLC! and then my brother found out she liked the pixies too and the rest was history lol. talk about excellent small world situations.

january:

jan 1
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS POST. last may, i bought chris and i tickets to see hamilton in new york city for my birthday in january. when i say “it was the most amazing experience of my life, i cried almost the whole time, and it even managed to exceeded my incredibly high expectations,” i mean it very honestly. we love new york city, and hamilton, and snow, and singing songs while walking down the streets. experiencing the musical in its whole form (not just audio like on the cast recording) was a magical situation. wow. i get chills just thinking about it.

jan 2
my baby brother came home!! he spent four-ish months in the middle east doing great things for his brigade and his country. i’m so proud of the high praise he received – but i am even more proud of him for being accepted to the army’s lawyer program! he will be beginning law school at UNC in the fall!! i am surrounded by geniuses!

february:

feb 1
my favorite framily is pictured here via a hastily taken selfie at a four way intersection in atlanta. we all went to see christopher’s favorite band, AFI, and had a great time! i love spending time with these people – so much joy! my heart is already crying for all of our moves. we will live 2,907 apart – i just did the google search. :(

feb 2i was invited to interview at seattle pacific university for their clinical psychology phd program! it was my first time in seattle, and my first time interviewing for an academic program. i ended up being accepted (!), and although i rejected the offer, i absolutely loved the experience and faculty and THE CITY. the mountains and water and love and equality were palpable in all ways. i can’t wait to spend much more time in seattle (which is about 30 miles north of where we are moving).

march:

mar 1
KITTY AND GREG GOT MARRIED IN CANCUN! chris and i took a mini vacation to spend a long weekend with some of our favorite people in the world. we had limitless drinks and food and sunshine. and also, kitty is my pff and i will follow her around the world forever and ever <3

mar 2
CADAVER BALL 2017!!! oh my goodness, world, chris is graduating medical school next month. i’ve loved all four (!) of the cadaver balls i have attended with chris as his girlfriend, then fiance, then wife – but this one was the most magical. i will miss these friends we have in nashville, but they are all going to soar to great medical/life heights.

and as for me, i have accepted my offer to attend the university of washington for their community planning masters program. one our way home from our christmas break in houston, i tried to imagine the perfect degree program for me. i wanted something that would teach me how to help the people of our country at the lowest level – at the community level – how to make their lives better and more healthy and for them to rise to great heights. so that one day i can work in local government, and then hopefully move my way up. and in an amazing turn of events, i found the program that would show me how to do that! and it was in the town we are moving to!

because if i have learned one thing this political season, it is that i am no longer going to sit by and let things happen. i want to help change this country to be more kind. i want to make people’s lives better. i want to advocate for all people, and for the equality of all.

“i am no longer accepting the things i can’t change. i am changing the things i can’t accept.” -angela y. davis

xoxo,
annie