Girls Weekend – Facing Major Change & Upheaval as we face 40!

Girls Weekend!
Girls Weekend!

Every year for almost 20 years, my tribe of women, our friendship cemented from our college days, gather for our annual reunion. The destination and hostess change every year, but our commitment to see each other is steadfast and unwavering. It is a given that our reunion location will be inconvenient for at least two of us. As we have made our way through career moves and pursued Lives well lived, we have trekked and established base camps in many states. Our living configuration typically means two live on the East Coast, two live on the West Coast, and there is the Midwest floater.

We designate our soul circle, the tribe, the gathering of Notre Dame women as the “MPU,” otherwise known as the Mobile Party Unit. A moniker self-bestowed upon us in our youthful days when we thought the fun always found us. More precisely, together WE ARE THE FUN.

Each reunion is an opportunity to pause from our hectic, balancing act of life. Work-Life balance is a debunked myth we have decided. We accept the chance to reflect and report the significant moments of our lives, full circle in a year. What were our goals and ambitions from last year? Did we make progress? Did we move forward? Stumble along or fall flat? Or this year, do we bask in our successes?

We stopped competing with each other long ago. Now we are cheerleaders for each other. We are witnesses to each other’s journey. We share. We inspire, intentionally and unintentionally. We laugh and laugh some more. And most importantly, we are ourselves.

Together, we are a safe place to express hesitation, uncertainty, or doubt.

We have collective memory of who we use to be. Who are we? Are we the same 18 year-old gals now in 40 year-old bodies? There is such a comfort and a beauty to be among women who have known each other for 20 years, who are witness to each individual journey, who notice the changes, both subtle and obvious, but know the heart and essence of the 40-year old maturing woman before them remains the same as that 18-year old young idealistic woman left behind. We are older and wiser and much more generous and kinder than before.

Together, we are a fun place to marvel over Life as we understand it—its beauty. Its indifference. Its irony. Its connectedness. The ups & downs in a marriage. In personal growth. In family dynamics. With aging parents. With growing kids. With health challenges. Life itself.

Next year, we face a milestone birthday. We are facing major change and transition, and not just the number of years and its accompanying proliferating grey hairs. 4 out of 5 of the MPU are moving out of our comfort zone to confront change. Change in career status, in love, and location.

The sales manager is considering moving out to the ‘burbs for her family.

The immigration rights lawyer is welcoming her 2nd child.

The web designer/user experience guru is embracing a new job with a highly visible tech company.

The military spouse is accepting with hard-earned wisdom and grace the uncertainty of military life while she awaits notification of the next duty assignment.

All the gals await an update from the hospital/pastoral care chaplain.

Such is life: Waiting. Living. Loving. Change and transition. Life goes on, only better when the MPU is involved. Together.

With the constant moving of military life, do you have a group of friends or a bestie with whom you meet regularly?  If not, make the call.  Plan the get-together!

Valerie

 

The Downside of Military Life: Dealing with Aging Parents and Travel Limitations for the Holidays

The hubby and I have been on this military journey long enough that are parents somehow have gotten old (which somehow may mean Hubby and I have aged as well, but I’m not ready to admit that just yet).

grandparents

When our kids were just babies, we established with the grandparents the expectation that they come to us for the holidays, wherever we might be. Typically, travel for two seasoned travelers is easier and cheaper, instead of one frazzled supermom alone with two young’uns or, when the mission allowed, a family of four.

Since entering military service many years ago, we have never been stationed anywhere close to either set of parents. The best-to-date distance has been 300 miles, one state over. In my younger days, when I had more energy and seemingly more disposable income, I did not find the distance an impediment. Sure, I didn’t see my parents and in-laws as much as I wanted, but I know it comes with the territory.

Since having kids, I am much more wistful about the distance and the infrequency of which we see our family. It takes a lot of time and energy to maintain any relationship, but maintaining family ties is the salt of life and so worth it for generations of family to know each other. I have driven all over these great United States, mainly the Midwest, for some face time with the great grandparents, grandparents, extended family, in-laws, and friends over the years, but usually just in the summer. For the holidays, the family comes to us.

Until this year.

This year marks the switch for my parents.

After their last visit which involved direct cross-country flights, they announced that their flying days were coming to an end. They would not be traveling to us this holiday season. They just can’t do the flying thing anymore, and driving is not feasible with the current distance apart. Health issues and the inability to travel light make flying a difficult and intolerable experience for them. Quality time with the grandkids is no longer enough of an incentive. The time has come that we travel to them.

Traveling with my children doesn’t seem quite as daunting since there are no more diaper bags involved. And yet now that I am considering this new change, holiday travel does seem overwhelming, namely the logistical challenges involved and the necessity of a revised travel budget. (Yikes!)

I’m coming to realize that Life is changing again, that my family and I are entering into a new season, a new stage of life, which requires flexibility, redefined expectations and new traditions.

So, I will continue to choose my family, even if it now involves four airplane tickets for an adventurous, packed-like-sardines, cross-country trip during the most wonderful time of year. (Choose love. Budget. Breathe. This is an Adventure!)

What about you? How do you maintain family ties while in the military? What are your family expectations on visits and holidays?

Valerie