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my birthday 2 weeks

21 Jan

so, my winter quarter is in full swing! the classes this quarter are strategic influence and planning for equity. here is an awesome quote from an article from my planning for equity class:

“In a democratic system opposition to a public agency should be just as normal and appro­priate as support.” – Paul Davidoff  “Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning”

i put forward this quote from one of the equity planning masters in the context of this weekend’s women’s march. i think a portion of the population believes that you have to blindly support who is in office out of “respect.” but this quote reminds us that in a democracy, it is our duty to speak up against who/what is wrong. and i was filled with hope and pride in the number of people marching with me this saturday in seattle.

more on that in a moment, but i have two great weekends to cover that were all in celebration of my 28th birthday!!

detroit weekend

my bestest friend in the world now lives in detroit!!  so, i spent a wonderful weekend with her and her husband in the tundra and seeing some of the sights in detroit. it was interesting timing because i was in the middle of reading Redevelopment and Race: Planning a Finer City in Postwar Detroit for one of my classes. there’s so much going on in detroit, just the planners and racism of the past crippled it. but i believe in detroit! (and also i just had such an amazing time with kitty! and the craft cocktails! and beautiful buildings and historic sites, and of course morning coffee drinks with the spencers <3 )

my birthday weekend

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my darling friends and family made my 28th birthday incredible (my flat tire couldn’t even derail the weekend!)! i was worried at the start that the birthday wouldn’t be up to my desires due to chris being out of town on a work trip, but i still had an amazing time! on friday (my actual birthday) i came home from work, facetimed with my brother (the best) and then walked over to kels’ house to drink birthday sangria, sing the entire first act of hamilton to her, and paint signs for the women’s march! then we got ready for dinner, took photos, and headed to my favorite restaurant in tacoma (the table). cris brought me flowers (and we got them a seat of honor in the baby seat lol) and we had a great dinner.

then on saturday, we got up, drove to the southern most light rail spot, and took the train into seattle for the women’s march 2.0!! it was awesome. one of my classmates, when we were discussing citizen protests, said that people shouldn’t go to the women’s march – they should actually take action in the community. i understand what she was getting at, but for me, the march serves the purpose to show me and make me see that i am not alone in how i feel. that there is a whole part of the population is with me and also wants to protest for change. i know that the women’s march last year really helped with my feelings after the election – especially last year when i was in the south. just feeling the energy is enough to refill my hope meter as i go forward in my desire to change the world for the better.

is it weird that i don’t even need to itemize and prove the awful things coming out of our president’s mouth? i respect the office of the President, but i don’t respect him. at all. and i don’t have to!

here’s to my 28th year! let’s go!

xoxo,
annie

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dear 2018,

9 Jan

hi everyone! again, it has been too long (since october, geesh!), and again i want to pledge to write more on this blog. not because i’m not writing enough – full time graduate program and also journaler here – but because i’ve always enjoyed this platform to share my small musings and life. i do know my mom and mommy-in-law appreciate this site (especially due to me not having a facebook), so i will keep at it and share a little more from my life.

thankfully from your perspective, not much has happened since october. it was mostly taken up by holiday travels (the high points of the last three months) and lots and lots of writing for my planning theory and practice course. my final paper (which i am proud of and will share with you if you’re interested) was titled: how racially equitable are outcomes of sustainability planning? it was 27 pages long lol. anyway, today is only the second class of the winter quarter so i have a little more time to squander.


so, for my first post of 2018 i am going to outline my new year’s resolution and 2018 goals (yes, different). last year i didn’t eat meat (except for two times both in december because it seemed appropriate and i was so close to the end of the year haha) and this year:

i’m going to stop popping my pimples. i know that’s disgusting, but it is a habit that i need to kick because i want my face to be clear so i don’t have to wear makeup / i don’t want to damage my skin!

(side note: being surrounded by doctors has really made me lose a bodily-function filter, so, i guess i can blame that too for being gross haha)

so far, so good. and honestly, instead of my nightly face scrutiny/picking, i simply moisturize and go to bed (without looking too closely) – so i’m saving some time too haha

and now for a few extraneous goals (different from resolutions because i will be more kind with myself as i move towards these, instead of my resolution which is an exercise in discipline and habit breaking):

  1. read at least 30 minutes a day. most days i do because of coursework, but even if i don’t have an assignment to read, i need to keep reading. thankfully, i’ve surrounded myself with people smarter/more insightful than me that recommend me books constantly, and because of that i have a long list to work through on top of my assigned readings (and thankfully some incredible libraries nearby).
  2. allow myself time to not tangle myself up in worry about the state of the world. being a social activist warrior can be very very tiring. every discussion becomes a moment to debate/inform and that becomes very tedious and depressing. so, i will make sure to take time to act my age and enjoy the truly lovely things the world also has to offer. not every conversation needs to be a truth-telling moment (unless, of course, it’s something that can’t go without reprimand like sexist/racist/homophobic jokes for instance).
  3. write in my journal at least every two weeks!
  4. foster relationships both in and out of my marriage. chris and i talk about this often and it is great to live somewhere with such a wealth of wonderful people. and of course, as chris moves forward he’s going to become more and more busy with work – so we have to treasure our time together as well, and use it purposefully.
  5. learn to balance living so far away from my family members. most of my family is on the east coast/in texas – so i need to learn how to balance phone calls and facetime calls to not feel so far away all the time. thank you technology!
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moody picture of the bay yesterday from my bus stop on the 16 line

we should all be on that constant course of self-improvement!

here’s to 2018!

xoxo,
annie

 

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

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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.

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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
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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!!
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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
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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!!
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again, friendship is happening <3 moving is strange and it takes awhile to feel like you belong – but we are making it happen, together.
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here’s a photo of matt and chris in canoes during our double date/trip to bend, oregon!
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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!
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lol this one is too good not to post.

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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)
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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)

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

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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.

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!

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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)

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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:

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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.

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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!).

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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.

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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…

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may 2012 – west point – graduation parade rehearsal

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

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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.

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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.

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and then at BOLC learning some radios!

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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