Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I Am Thankful for Me!

Yes, my title says I am thankful for me!  This last year has been trying but has taught me so much about myself and life.  I have learned to value myself, not in a puffed up look at me way, but in a way that allows me to understand my own worth and protect myself.

As women we tend to buy into the Pnterest, DIY, and latest fitness hype of the day.  Now, I am not saying any of those things are bad or harmful, but when we begin comparing ourselves to them we fall into a trap.  Think about are surfing through Pinterest and you see all these amazing ideas and can't wait to try them for your holiday party.  You start making lists and gathering items and you are ready to go.  But then life happens and you don't have the time to get it all done or your glue won't do the things that the Pinterest glue does and BAM!  You start asking yourself why you can't get it done like the people on Pinterest.  Well ladies here's a news flash for you...all those items on Pinterest were put on there by THOUSANDS of people.  So you as an individual are trying to be all Pinterest or Martha Stewart when both of them have thousands of people working their stuff!  Slow down decide what matters and focus on that.

This year has been a professional struggle for me.  I am going to type into words what I have been saying to myself for several months...Jill you should be ashamed of yourself!  I have been married to an active duty submariner for 24 years and have dealt with deployments, separation, long working hours, and being a single parent.  BUT I have never had to deal with the frustration of moving every three years and the effect it can have on your career.  I was spoiled and lived in the same place for 22 of those years and was able to build a solid reputation and name for myself in my field.  I never struggled having to find a job; I simply applied for them and got them.  I never had to struggle to re-establish my career and my reputation.  Well, this last year I was able to experience just that and I found out it sucks!   However, even in the suckage (its my blog I can make up words:)) I have learned a valuable value myself and not to allow others to dictate my worth in both my own mind and in the work place.  I had to spend countless hours praying, encouraging myself, and getting tongue lashings from those who love me to keep a grasp on who I am and my professional value.  The truth is you really can't make people accept your value professionally...but you can hold on to your worth with both hands for yourself.  

Another lesson learned this year comes from a blog I wrote a couple of months ago..."Don't Put Poop in Your Pocket."  And I will be honest some days when I use that saying I use the word poop...other days its the naughty word for poop...because man....its bad poop!  But the gist of it is people leave crap all over....gossip, lies, anger, name it, but you don't have to latch on to it and make it yours.  You can simply chose to leave it where it is and not accept all the negativity they are trying to share with the world.  

The final lesson of the year is the common thread in all three of the above lessons...YOU control what you think, feel, and allow into your life. Value yourself enough to throw out the trash of life and hold tightly to what you value. Ladies, I promise you it is ok to love you, appreciate you, and be thankful for the person you were, are, and will be!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Veterans Day 2013

Shhhhhh!!!!! It’s early in the morning on the Saturday of Veteran’s Day weekend and I am enjoying not only the peace and quiet, but the feeling of completeness that comes from knowing your husband is home from sea.

Veterans Day weekend, sadly like Memorial Day and 4th of July are often just thought of as a day off by most Americans.  For those who serve, have served, and ever loved anyone who served these are days where reflection and honoring come before BBQ’s, parades, and fireworks.

Personally, I live a life of honor and reflection, grateful for the sacrifices daily that the service men and women have made, are making, and will continue to make.   Living, working, and spending almost every waking moment on a military base will do that to a person.  Add to that the fact that I am supporting my husband as he lives a life of sacrifice, as are my children, and it’s easy to understand when I say live a life of honor, reflection, and gratefulness that I mean it as a verb, an action.

I am given the opportunity daily to honor the service of our active duty members as I strive to provide them with excellent childcare as the CDC Director.  Our team works to make sure that they can go to work knowing not only that their children are safe, but they are loved and happy.  I am provided the opportunity twice a day to reflect on the sacrifice and gift that those who serve have given, are giving, and will give as I hear Colors twice a day and I pause, and reflect.

I am also grateful daily for those who serve, as I witness them daily working to serve their country.  I witness the gate guards serving as sentries to the base; I see the medical staff at the hospital serving active duty members and their families.  I am blessed to drive down the pier and see submarines ready and willing to go into harms way.  I am witness to the tears of sorrow as a submarine pulls out of port, tears of frustration as moms and children work to find their grove while dad is gone, and tears of joy when that submarine comes through the harbor and makes her way back to the pier.   I am in the thick of honor, courage, and commitment daily, I am fortunate enough to witness sacrifice in action. So I have an unfair advantage over most American’s, because I see daily sacrifice in action, rather than just a news clip here or there.  I am grateful for the life I have been blessed to live as part of such an amazing group of men and women. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Anchor

My current life situation has me feeling a bit adrift and since I have been meaning to write about the anchor’s symbolism for some time, today seems like as good a day as any to delve into this blog.

For many years the anchor has been a symbol of honor, courage, and commitment in my life.  It has symbolized the way we have committed to serving and living.  However, recently as I have begun to contemplate a tattoo (perhaps a mid-life crisis) the anchor has been the choice I keep coming back to.  I have considered going completely CPO in my theme, but for some reason I have shied away from making that move. 

Several recent experiences have left me feeling a bit like I was being tossed around in the water and I began to think of the anchor in a different light.  I began to see the anchor as a tool used to keep you from drifting and being destroyed in the storm, as a place of safety and security.
There have been many times in my husbands naval career that I have fought to stay grounded and sought refuge from the storm crashing around me.  I will never forget the day I found out my husbands submarine had been on its way out of the Gulf, when she was turned around and sent back in.  The end of an already long seven month deployment, homecoming, and the ships safety had been within arms reach, and then it was taken.  That morning at early Morning Prayer, our Pastor taught a lesson on Proverbs 24:10 If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small. This scripture immediately sunk into my spirit and gave me the will and strength to fight to stay afloat for my own sanity and the well-being of my children. 

There have been several times since then that I have clung to this scripture, refusing to have small strength because I felt that if my strength was indeed small I would fail those who were depending on me to keep it together, those who were looking at me for answers.  Fear that if I gave into the feelings of despair and let my strength be weak, I may never return.

Where did the strength come from, you may ask?  It came from my relationship with God, from my faith that He was in control of the situation and all I had to do was remain strong and focused on what He had told me, versus focusing on the chaos around me. He must be my anchor; He must be the shelter in the storm.

So, I have decided that my tattoo will indeed be the fouled naval anchor, but rather than honor, courage, and commitment it will say, “Refuse to Sink” and this will be a constant reminder that my strength will not be weak in my days of adversity, as long as I make sure that the anchor which keeps me safe from the storm is God.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Reality of Living With Teenage Sons

I am giving you a warning before you push the play button.  This video clip is completely unsuitable for children and people who cannot deal with vulgarity and yes a little nudity.  However, this is the reality of living with two grown sons...which is completely unsuitable for any sane parent, never mind a mom who is at least a foot shorter than both her sons...who must deal with insanity such as this on her own.

I promise you there are days when I can't beleive the insanity of their words and actions, throw in the lack of any rational thought with alot of physical action and the result is unbelievable.  Tonight the arguement was about who was going to sit at the breakfast bar, because apparently the six foot long space is not big enough for both of them.  So as the arguement progressed  I heard the cries of," MOMMMMM"  I made a choice to ignore my very large toddlers who are arguing over the breakfast bar...I am not going down that road tonight.  Next thing I know they are each trying to tattle that the other one mooned them...and then comes the flashing of their manhood at each other....all while telling me play by play what the other one is doing.  I finally snap and yell, " I don't care what body part you show each other...I DON"T CARE!!!!"

But the reality of it is that if I do not send them both to their room for the night or if I am not home, the scene will play out much like the hot mess in the video clip.  Where in the ham sandwhich does such irrational, competitive, craziness come from.  How do two supposed sane human beings think its ok to act like this?  How do two people who were raised by responsible morally sound people come to this?  They know better.

And I promise you it is a game to them...the aggravator takes great joy in terrorizing their victim. You can see the glee in their eye as the victim realizes that someone has touched their drum set, football, cleat,  earphones, cup, mouth guard...nothing is sacred.  The the victim then becomes the aggravator and the aggravator becomes the vicitm and has the nerve to be offended at the offense inflicted on him.  And the cycle continues.  One of them actually asked me if I was going to do something about what his brother just did and when I said no actually said to me, "You arent't going to do anything about it?"  My response was you just spent twently minutes aggravating about we start with you!?!?!  And I walked away.

I am sorry if the video offends anyone, but seriously I have no words to explain the daily struggle of living with the two Marini brothers amd this video is the closest thing I have ever witnessed that even comes close.

Is it Homecoming time yet?!?!?!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Have Gone Gangster!

Being the parent of teenagers is not a job for those weak at heart.  Your constant battle to ensure that they are making good life choices, while dealing with their evolving need to discover who they are a part from you, their parents, and the influence of their peers and society can exhaust you mentally and physically. 

Last night my youngest son accused me of bribery, because I reminded him that his attitude is directly linked to the purchase and delivery of the extra football equipment he desired.  He chooses to see my rewarding his good behavior as bribery, which tells me that without the rewards the behavior would be less than desirable. As I lay there trying to fall asleep, fuming that he just doesn’t get it, and pissed at his attitude concerning the direct linkage of attitude to rewards I went off the beaten path a bit. I began to think of famous mobsters and how my son would feel if I was a real old school mobster using bribery to exhort the behavior I wanted from him.

Being the history dork that I am I got up this morning and began Googling famous mobsters, and I stumbled upon a site that broke them down by geographical regions and cities.  So, with Rick being stationed on the USS Chicago my first stop was Chicago and boy did I hit the jackpot!  Chicago is where the world famous Al Capone ruled and raised havoc.

Capone is credited with being the smuggling and bootlegging of liquor during prohibition.  While I can’t honestly say that I have any bootlegging qualities I was drawn to Capone’s wide spread influence and ability to know what is going on in all areas of his territory, while never leaving his headquarters. Capone had moles which reported the goings on in the city to him. Although no conviction was ever made Capone was credited with the Saint Valentines Day Massacre in which several famous mobsters were shot down execution style in broad day light in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of the North Side of Chicago on Valentines Day in 1929.  Now, I chose to focus on the method behind the shooting rather than the actual violence.  You see, Capone’s men set up a look out or stake out if you will across the street from a warehouse to monitor their rivals activities. This allowed them to know what was going on with their rivals and coordinate the massacre.  This is what I would like to focus on, my ability to monitor and coordinate the shut down of any activity in the lives of my children that is undesirable.   While I wouldn’t call them moles or informants but living on a small military base in Guam and working for MWR and being married to a Chief of the Boat on the waterfront allows be to be in a position to gather information on what, where, and when my children are doing something.  Most often I do not have to solicit this information and it falls into my lap, allowing me to have a clear picture of what is going on with my children.  This also gives me an opportunity to ensure that those who have contact or influence over my children during the day are aware of my expectations.  Have I also mentioned that I can see Guam High from my office window and that several of the faculty and staff at the high school have children at my center?  Yes, I know all that happens with my children in Guam.  This influence also extends across the Pacific to my daughters, where there truly may be some type of mafia network involved, which will remain undiscussed to protect the innocent. Yes, I know what is going on over there in the land of Aloha; just call it the Capone in my history.

However, there was another mobster that I found to be more to my liking simply because he was smarter and less violent that the famous Capone. Fellow mobster Ricca said this of him, “"Accardo had more brains for breakfast than Capone had in a lifetime." Because of his wisdom, ability to stay under the radar, and even tempered personality he did minimal jail time and lived a much longer life than Capone. This would be Tony Accardo, known as Antonino or Joe Batters. Antonino rose from a petty thief to be Outfit Authority in 1972.  He is credited with saving Capone’s life more than once and is said to have taken part in the Saint Valentines Day massacre.  In his personal life he married and remained ever faithful to a Polish American girl and his grandson is Eric Kumerow who was drafted to NFL, these things right here endeared me to him, but his calm low profile and ability to get the job done were the real draw for me.

Known for his extortion abilities Antonino was able to make people do what he wanted.  This is the ability that I most desire and not for my own gain or evil purposes.  I don’t want this ability to rule the world or take things from others that do not belong to me, no; I want this ability to make my children make good choices, do what is asked of them the first time I ask and without any lip. 

And I use the opposite leverage than my pal Antonino used, I use positive reinforcement rather than the negative of broken knee caps.  I offer the land of milk and honey so to speak.  I offer the extra gifts and things that my children want.  The color coded gloves, cleats, socks, and extra football paraphernalia.  The extra cash to go to the movies, the extra cash to go to the mall, the extra electronic device, the things they don’t have to have, but seem to want.  This is what I offer for those who wish to fall prey to my extortion, those who wish to listen to my words the first time they come out of my mouth, for those who do what needs to be done before I ask, for those who are brave enough to clean up after themselves. I offer these things to the few, the proud, and the brave. I offer a life with no nagging or threats, a life without constant reminders to flush the damn toilet and to stop calling your brother names.  I offer the Mary Poppins of extortion to my children and they refuse the offer I have made and to me it’s an offer they can’t refuse.

According to, the definition that fits my type of bribery is the second version of the noun bribe which is, “anything given or serving to persuade or induce.” Now there is a first version which is the version my son implies that I am subjecting him to which is used to persuade the corruption of an individual, however, the version applicable to my form is the one which desires to persuade my children to make positive life choices.  So call me one who bribes son…I am in good company! 

Now….I just need a good mobster name….

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Do You Have Poop In Your Pocket?

Have you ever thought that there was entirely too much drama and negativity in your life?  Have you ever looked for the source of that drama?  Was it an eye opening experience?  Did you discover some things about yourself?

Recently, I had this experience.  I was so over all the negativity and drama that I THOUGHT was created by others in my life.  I thought all the actions and dramatic Facebook status’s were the source of my frustration. ,that the rumors and the talk of the town started by others was the source.

However, as I began to dig a little deeper and really think about it, others are not responsible for the drama I allow into my life.  If I chose to allow those people to be my friends on Facebook, and I read all the negativity and drama they post, and absorb it into my life and mind, then I AM accountable and responsible for the drama in my life.  If I allow the rumors and what others say and think of me to invade my thoughts and attitude , then I AM responsible for the drama and negativity in my life.

You see there will always be immature people in the world, people who have nothing better to do than create drama and chaos wherever they go.  They will always relish in stirring the pot of discontention then stand back and watch the drama unfold like All My Children on television. There will always be people who are unhappy with themselves and their lives, who will seek to point out the strengths in others that they wish they had, as something negative or weak.  However, only you are responsible for what you allow into your mind and thoughts.

You do not have to be friends on Facebook with those people, you do not have to subscribe to their version of Gossip Digest, allowing what they say about you to frustrate you.   You do not have to allow their behavior to irritate you. You can however, guard your heart and mind ensuring that you do not take their immaturity and misguided social paths of destruction on as negativity in your life.

Simply unfriend them on Facebook and realize that you have the power to release YOURSELF from the negativity and drama. The question is will you?  I have I have deleted all the drama off of my facebook page, after all my Facebook page is for me to connect with people I like, to socialize with those I value in my life, not for others to drop crap into my life.  I refuse to be moved by the ugly of others, I have found peace in my new found freedom.

Look at it this way…if there was a pile of feces on the sidewalk, would you pick it up, put it in your pocket, and allow it to stink up your life?  I would hope not.  Then why would you allow someone else’s ugly to stink up your life?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Snap Shots of a Year

Here I sit on a Friday night, listening to four teenage boys in the living room playing video games, working on moving years worth of pictures from my old lap top to a hard drive and my mac book.  

It must be done and I have put it off for well over a year.  I knew I needed to relocate the pictures before the laptop finally gave up the ghost, and today I was looking for pictures from a CPO event in early 2012, so I figured I would kill two birds with one stone.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I take entirely too many pictures, and today I realize this more than ever.  I have 20 pictures of my kids in almost the same pose because I put that camera on sports mode and go for broke, always in search of the priceless picture.  It annoys me when I have to search through the countless photos to picture the perfect one.

However, today as I worked on transferring the final months of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, I am grateful for every picture I took during this time.  The reason for this is that if it were not for these pictures I would not have one lucid memory of this time period.  I was so emotionally crippled by the loss of my mother I in no way filed these memories in my memory bank.  Now you can look at these pictures and see my physical presence and even my smile, but I cannot without the aid of these photographs remember these events.

As I look back over the photos I am grateful that I have them, and I am again reminded first of the impact that such a loss can have on your life, and second how your mind and heart protect themselves when you go into crisis mode.  

It also causes me to think, what other life events I might have missed out of because of my grief, or during other times when I was carrying some stress or emotionally challenging situation.  Do I have pictures of every little thing that I missed?  Thinking of how precious life is and how easy it can be overlooked because of extenuating circumstance that affect on how you see your surroundings.

Looking particularly at the photos we took the week of my mom’s funeral, you can see the strain on our faces, even in the smiles.  Some may find the photos of us at my Uncle Bobby’s lake shooting guns a bit strange for my family.  However, they tell a story.  From the first picture where you see my sister and niece walking down the road to the lake to the last group photo, you see my family’s strength and perseverance.  You see my Uncle Bobbie and Aunt Kris are my parents closest friends and my Uncle took my mom’s passing very hard, and he was amazing in knowing that my family needed to get out of the house.  He knew that the break from death was what we needed.  That we needed an activity that would encompass us all, that would get us together outside away from the stress and pain of grief.  So he loaded us all up, drove us to the forest, and gave us guns!  And it worked….we all shot that gun from the youngest to oldest.  We bonded and laughed over bullets and targets, we took deep breaths of fresh air, and we felt a little something outside of grief.  The whole week was the longest of my life, but also the most amazing.  I love the people in those pictures with my whole heart and I am thankful for the strength and unity that you see in those photos. 

I am thankful tonight for my almost unexplainable desire to have my camera every where I go taking pictures of everyday occurrences, because without that desire I would have totally lost a year of my life