Re-evaluating Life-As-We-Know-It (Nearing Military Retirement during Covid-19)

Hubby & I were already starting to re-evaluate Life-As-We-Know-It as we approach our military retirement, and then a whole new level of crazy occurred with Covid-19.  Now not just us, but everyone is forced to pause this crazy, busy life and re-evaluate. Be still and breathe.  Try not to panic.  Of course, it is easy to work myself into a tizzy while watching the economy tank. Easy to panic when separated by thousands of miles from our parents who are Covid’s prime targets.  Easy to dive under the bed covers to not face the growing, insurmountable uncertainty that is now everyone’s daily reality.

As a military family, we have already lived a life of uncertainty, with plans changing abruptly and dealing with the Heavy Hand of Government in our daily lives.  So in some ways, we are already prepared to accept the rapidly-changing new reality and are readily implementing the life-altering precautions. We understand it’s a personal responsibility and a personal sacrifice for the greater good. (It’s also a military order, so there’s that, too.)

Ready to take on 2020 with precautions & Patriotic Flair!

Already, our corner of the world is opening back up — with open arms to the tourists. But will this corner of the world open their arms to us?  His military retirement has been pushed back.  We transition to our new life maybe in July. We are not true retirees but moving on to 2nd careers.  One of us will need a job.  Will there be jobs to be had in our corner of the world? Unknown.  *stress*

As a resilient military spouse, I am trained to always find the silver lining in any situation. There is always a silver lining (no matter how much I complain otherwise). Our silver lining is that we are only moving across town and not cross-country. We are not starting completely anew in an unknown city.  Navigating through the unknown is incredibly draining, and I recognized earlier this year, pre-Covid, that I was completely depleted.  I could not muster an ounce of enthusiasm or energy to do one last major upheaval.  I could not play the family cheerleader. My Plan A was that we stay here in South Dakota and figure it out.

Covid-19 is moving us along to Plan B.  Our timelines are changing.  Our job prospects are perhaps not as strong.  But we are riding out this pandemic in South Dakota, and it is a relief to be “home.”  We are staying at home as much as possible, now and in the foreseeable future.  But maybe, just maybe, we will be ready to venture out into our adopted hometown, with plenty of hand sanitizer,  when we are “Retirees.”

Path of Least Resistance is my current mantra.

Also, Hire Me

Transition to Post-Military Life…I’m not ready!

My husband decided that he has had enough of the military lifestyle.  Ever since we neared the 20-year mark, which was several years ago, we have discussed our transition to post-miliIary life.  When we were “stuck” by our service commitment, dreaming of our future and entertaining a gazillion what-if scenarios was fun.  Who do we want to be? Where do we want to live? Would we choose location first and figure out how to make it work? Or would we choose 2nd career and go where the next job might be?

And here we are now…a retirement date set in the near future, and we are without a plan.  Neither firm location nor job prospects. A gazillion what-if scenarios are not quite so entertaining  or refreshing when we will be homeless in 6 short months. I am a woman who always has a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.  Never have I been a woman with No Plan! And that’s exactly who I am at the moment. It’s unfamiliar territory for me.

I better understand why people stay put at their last duty station–Path of least resistance! We are dreaming big as we decide our path forward, but we are also trying to prioritize, be realistic with short-term and long-term goals for ourselves and our children, and always are mindful of finances and responsibilities (Ugh!).  

Why don’t we stay in lovely South Dakota, you ask?  Ask me this in the summer and I’m all for it. Ask me now as winter approaches, my enthusiasm for this area is nonexistent.  I don’t much care for cold, snow, or howling wind. Although if we do stay in the local area, we must move away from the prairie’s edge.  The wind is so brutal and unforgiving here where I currently live. I just don’t want to deal with it any more–Since October, I’ve practically lived in my sleeping bag coat!

As we settle into the long winter season, I will be working hard on defining & deciding on the next phase of our life.   I’m open to suggestions!

The moving stats — Hawaii to South Dakota

40+ days and counting since we have been living out of a suitcase. (* No word yet on actual delivery date of household goods. *)

11 shipping crates of our domestic bliss, approx. 12,000 lbs of stuff.

500 lbs of Unaccompanied Baggage of household essentials. (* Murphy’s Law guarantees this to be the last arrival. *)

19 mind-boggling, stressful hours waiting for word that the family dog has successfully landed in the correct destination on the mainland.

6-hour flight with an inoperable onboard entertainment system to the mainland with 2 kids depending on an operable onboard entertainment system.

21 days from drop off to pickup of family car at the Vehicle Processing Center.

1500 miles, 5-state, 3-day road-trip with 2 cars, 2 kids, and 1 set of grandparents.

55 degree cold and rainy weather welcome by Mother Nature.

0 warm weather outfits.

Complete suspension of normal family budgeting and financial operations!

Too many good-byes to count.

1 grand military family adventure to the great state of South Dakota!

Just a few hiccups: Misplaced car registration, $1500 travel bill for the Dog, Tears & Curses, Sciatica.

Are we there yet?  YES!

Are we having fun yet?  YES!

And I still have unpacking to look forward to…

Wishing you a happy, safe, low stress PCS season!

Self-Imposed Family Separation – Geo-Bachelor by Choice

I just can’t do another move right now.  The thought of going through another move, so soon after moving to Paradise, moves me either to tears or flashes of anger.

I am getting burned out with being Mrs. Air Force always on the Move, always the Perpetual Newcomer.

This will be move #7 in 9 years and the constant move cycle with kids is not so much a fun adventure to me any more.

Add the fumbling of orders, the unexpectedness, the logistics, the decisions, the financial implications, the waiting, the unknown, the research.  All of that together stresses me out.  Does it and has it always worked out?  Yes, of course.  Have I always made the best of the situation and jumped right in to craft a life I love or at least can tolerate for the short amount of time we are there? Yes.  But the stress of moving on repeat, despite the resources available and the camaraderie of military families, has taken its toll on me.

After Hubby and I settled into the idea of looming change, we took serious consideration of our next step.  We usually embrace “Family first, no matter what.”  We have never really given much thought to a self-imposed separation.  Yet here we are, in a different stage of life, thinking about it.  I told Hubby through clenched teeth that we had to at least see if temporary separation could be a real possibility; otherwise, I feared my resentment of another move would consume me.  Sometimes, when it feels like 1 step forward and 2 steps back, it is hard to stay positive.  After spinning my wheels here in Hawaii thinking about forward motion towards education & career goals as we fast approach retirement, I found it crushing to give it all up for the time being to start focusing on the logistics of a move with kids, a dog, and too much stuff.

What about online school? What about this? What about that?  There are always options, but my point is that this requires a momentum shift and a lot more spinning of wheels to research different options.  And let’s be real – I have limited energy as it is and it’s hard for me to find balance, much less scraping my original plans and start researching online opportunities while overseas.

Hubby and I asked questions.  We crunched the numbers.  We made a short-term plan for the upcoming school year. We applied for a waiver to stay in Hawaii.

With gratitude, I gladly report that our waiver has been approved!

HUGE sigh of relief.

I feel grounded now through the swirl and whirlwind of this move for my husband.  It’s GO time in less than 4 weeks.  He’s TDY, of course.  He doesn’t have orders yet, of course.  It’s our normal operating procedure, but this time I’m standing clear, supporting from the sidelines, and not in the middle of the crazy.  I feel calm.  For now.

Things change.  All the time.  Control what you can.  Adjust your attitude to what you can’t.  And when possible, put your foot down and say “Enough! I need a break from this.”

We will reevaluate our options next spring. In the meantime, our hospitality hotel in Hawaii reopens in July.  Come visit!

Valerie

p.s. I came across this quote today:

“To live is the rarest thing in the world.  Most people just exist, that is all.” –Oscar Wilde

We’re on the Move Again – to South Korea!

I did not take the unexpected assignment news well.

We have been in Hawaii less than a year.

I have been crying, cussing, and hurling bitter rage towards the Hubby and the Military.

The Invisible Hand of Military Assignments strikes again, with no reason or rationale given. (Yes, I know, I know….I expect too much.)

So after my epic temper tantrum (which is still ongoing – I’m still really pissed about the unexpectedness and abruptness of it all.), I will suck it up and gear up for the next “great adventure” that awaits us.

But let’s be honest – 3 moves in 3 years with kids to different states and now different countries IS hard. Especially since the original plan was that we would be in Hawaii for at least 2 years.  I get that plans change, but this abrupt change has been really difficult for me to accept because (1) I love Hawaii and (2) I had made MY plans and dreams, which now I must put on hold, regroup and reinvent, or give up entirely.  It’s hard to not be resentful.

The hubby & kids will not accept a self-imposed family separation, especially for two years.  Trust me, that was my first thought, “Have fun!  Kids and I will stay in paradise!”

I simply don’t know what I am going to do with myself for two years in South Korea (and maybe only a year) besides traveling.  I will soon have to drop everything to get ready for this move (passports, medical clearances, household management, transportation).   We will spend time with family this summer on the mainland, especially since visits will be far and few the next couple of years, and we will then spend time getting situated in our new temporary home.  When I feel less overwhelmed, I can investigate what opportunities are available in South Korea.  I’m not saying that there are not any there.  I’m just saying I’m tired of doing this for a 3rd year in a row.  I had my plan for Hawaii and now suddenly bye-bye.

Everybody I know is starting to offer the Pep Talk Platitudes – “Wow!  What an adventure!”

Or my second favorite “How awesome it will be for the kids to experience another culture!”

Or “Everyone who has been stationed there loves it!”

It IS an adventure, and it IS awesome.  Just not for me, not today.

Seize the day, Buttercup.

Or in my case, suck it up, Buttercup.

VALERIE

P.S.  It’s been 3 weeks since the surprise announcement, I have calmed down enough that I can say that I am leaving paradise and moving to Korea, without snarling or tears.  This is an improvement.  There are still many things that make my head spin – crazy neighbor in the north with weapons, Vog masks (pollution masks?), being halfway around the world from my aging parents….but it’s an “Adventure” so therefore we can dismiss all concerns and believe it’s going to be ok.

And it will all be ok.  I just don’t have to be ok about it every second of every day.