Tag Archives: life

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.

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

a few things you might not know about me

14 Dec

hello everyone! just came back from a lovely weekend with my sweetie, who was my date to my winter formal for work! we had it at the gaylord opryland hotel in nashville, so it was a little crazy! they have a whole indoor garden situation going on, it reminded me a lot of an indoor (and smaller) disneyland.

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it was a lovely night, and then we brunched at fido, which is always a winner (sweet potato french toast, hello!)

but in keeping with the title of this post, here are some things you might not know about me:

1) i talk to myself when i’m alone. i think it stems more from my love of talking and less from there being something wrong with me. maybe i just like to hear the sound of my own voice lol

2) i can’t take people seriously who wear running shoes with any outfit that isn’t fitness related. i’m ruthless with my clothing based judgements.

3) i’m a sucker for greeting strangers. i very much believe we are all in “this” together! this being living in the world.

4) i get irrationally upset when bystanders whine about anything out of their control. so let me set the scene:

christopher and i stayed at the gaylord opryland hotel after our formal was over with. we knew that it was going to be a busy situation. first of all, the opryland hotel is renowned for their christmas decorations, ice display, and the rockettes were preforming last night as well. so when we faced over an hour of traffic to drive about two miles, we tried to keep our heads level about arriving late to the ball. when we were checking in, the receptionist let us know that all of the rooms were booked. the place was huge! there were tons of people haha but thankfully, due to all that traffic, everyone else was late to the ball too, so it hadn’t started when we arrived and we even had time to get our photos taken :)

anyway, fast forward to the next morning and christopher and i were standing in (yet another) line to get our car back from the valet parking service. we were in line maybe about 15 minutes, but i deemed it fair knowing the sheer amount of people leaving the hotel. behind us were two men who were griping and complaining at the top of their lungs (probably hoping that an employee would hear them) to each other about how “this was the worst trip we’ve ever gone on” “we didn’t get to any of the things we wanted to” “it took us 4 hours to get here on friday” “i shouldn’t have to wait in line since i got marriot awards” “we are never coming back here” “i’m going to go find my own car” “this place is mismanaged” and then when one of them got to the valet window, informed the poor attendant working about all of his complaints. did he understand the valet was doing the very best they could? that they have no control over their bad weekends? that they probably hate having to listen to customers complain, especially since they have no control over the sheer number of people at the hotel? what did they expect coming to such a place right before christmas? who even are you? you’re wearing sweatpants and running shoes! sloppy! it took everything i had, and christopher’s calming presence, not to turn around and address these men (who were at least 20 years older than me) and say “you are acting like children and should be ashamed of yourselves.” self righteous and entitled. my least favorite combo.

anyway, christopher and i made sure to be courteous and kind to our valet and give him a nice tip. especially with the knowledge that his next car-owner probably will be frustrated and take it out on them.

so, i guess here is my appeal:

we should all try a little harder to be kind to the strangers in our lives, because we never know what they’re going through or how you’re going to impact them.
(also sorry if that’s hypocritical based on the last few of my posts, but there’s always time to turn over a new leaf!)

happy holidays! and i hope everyone is enjoying their last full week of work before christmas!

xoxo,
annie

five things that made me smile today

19 Nov

in honor of hump day, here are some of my favorite happy things from today:

1. listening to the new beta radio album, “colony of bees.”
oh my goodness, it’s been too long since they’ve put out new music, and this one is incredible. it brings back memories of years ago and the sweet scent of fall. i’m not sure why, but beta radio seems like the most perfect fall music in the world. so go and take a listen! (it’s on spotify and itunes!)

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2. my office
i’ve been so so happy with my new work place. the people are great and the job is fun and exciting. today one of my coworkers gave me all of the purple skittles from the pack. and another gave me adult advice about insurance plans. additionally i was given the nickname “rogue operator” because i was creating a webpage that wasn’t in line with the old versions. so many laughs!!

3. cinnamon
while i was at the store the other day, i smelled the most amazing aroma – cinnamon! i followed my nose through the plant and flower section, and wound up at a box full of cinnamon brooms. i’m not exactly sure their purpose. but i bought one and now my place smells like perfect cinnamon. i walked in my apartment today and was ready to start decking the halls! i can’t wait to throw my holiday party!!

4. headlights 
driving home from work today, i looked over my shoulder back on the road i had turned off of – and there was a long line of people leaving work as well. but since the sun had already set, there was a long line of bright white lights stringing along the road. they were like christmas lights :) and i cannot wait for christmas!!

5. bunnies
i’ve recently become obsessed with ebay! i used to be super skeptical about it, but lately i’ve started bidding and getting incredible deals on awesome items. either way – i found the perfect christmas plate for christopher (my bunny) and i:

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and now our bunny plate is located beside my grandma’s old oil lamp and my car keys on the way out the door! perfect!

xoxo,
annie

please excuse my absence

25 Mar

*i wrote this last week before i found out my blog was mistakenly suspended, so its a little out of date!*

i haven’t written in a couple of months since I last spoke of returning to the united states of america. forgive me, but I have been trekking all over the east coast. i’ve flown up to nyc to spend the weekend with my baby brother, i’ve spend time with Christopher in nashville, i’ve visited by grandma in richmond, my best friend in savannah (twice!), and my parents in tampa. i’ve been filling my still moments with reading, cooking, and meditation. i have a list of great things to look forward to, and i have found a way to enjoy my job and my moments behind a desk. i’ve started running more and of course have loved becoming intertwined with my crossfit family again. one of my closest friends had a baby and i have loved meeting her and marveling in her beauty. i’ve spent a lot of time focusing on little wonderful things and the ideas inside my mind.

i have refocused, been offered incredible career opportunities, spent time connecting with my roots (which is proving more difficult than I thought with all of the moving in my life), and have spent time readjusting my world view.

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in conjunction with all of that, i have been watching cosmos. the first episode puts all of creation and the universe as we know it on a scaled down timeline from the big bang (findings were discovered this week which offers direct evidence in support of the big bang theory: http://news.discovery.com/space/astronomy/big-bangs-smoking-gun-discovered-140317.htm ) to right now. they scaled down over 13 billion years to a single 12-month calendar. over the total expanse of time (scaled to 1 year), all recorded human history is  only the very last second of the very last hour of the hypothetical year. how small does that make you feel? and in between reading articles about how we cannot sustain life on earth endlessly and the malaysian aircraft being lost, i have finally found a way to switch my life feeling from that of fear to bravery. instead of being afraid every day of the zombie apocalypse or of a mass riot or of a meteor demolishing our planet, i have resolved to just be thankful for another day to live and be happy and share time with the ones i love. with the big bang theory comes the question of my purpose in the world. there is so much uncertainty of why I am here on Earth. but for me it isn’t a question of religion or of science, it is an easy answer no matter what you believe in. i am here to love and be loved. to make other’s lives a little more happy if I can help it. to me it doesn’t matter if there truly is an afterlife or not because i will aspire to live in this manner regardless.

this morning i walked outside and was genuinely happy to see that the world was just how i left it the night before: imperfect and flawed, but still full of so much beauty and love. sometimes you have to search a little to find it, but it’s always there and i am happy to be part of it.

xoxo,
annie

running and germany

1 Aug

hallo! 

at the moment i find myself in beautiful and breathtaking germany, just outside of stuttgart where my higher headquarters for this deployment is located. sadly, i leave early on sunday, but i’m ready to do my job down in africa! 

either way, the hotel that i am staying at is the exact same hotel where my family stayed in 2002 back when we had just moved to stuttgart. i remember the apprehension which i went to my first day of class with, so afraid that i would be rejected. fortunately, the rejection by all of the older middle/high schoolers was lessened by my daddy coming to eat lunch with me for the first few months of school. 

but the way i found friends (finally) was through joining the cross country team at patch american high school, the school was grade 7 to 12 and the soccer coach recruited the youngest girls from the get-go so his high school team would hold it’s #1 position. but there was a pre-requisite for joining the soccer team: you had to run cross country. so i joined the team and met wonderful people who i ran in the german countryside with. i loved running in europe. unlike in america, there were paths running between every town and winding through the forest. it was picturesque and fresh and perfect. every run felt like an adventure.

so when i found out i was back here in germany, where my love of running began, i found myself out on some of the same trails of my youth. running, free and unfettered through the countryside. the only difference now is that instead of being in germany to follow my father’s military career, i am now here in support of my own military mission and my own career. 

it’s wild where the roads of life will take you!

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xoxo,
annie