AIR IN MY (Metephorical) Tires

We are one week in!  One week into a new year.  It’s the beginning of the end for most of the resolutions that people made just 7 short days ago.  The gyms will start emptying.  The credit cards will start coming out of the wallets a little more.  Cigarettes are lit.  Wine bottles are uncorked.  Still the world keeps spinning because none of this really matters, at least it doesn’t matter to the majority of us who have made resolution after resolution, year after year, only to see it fall into obscurity within the existence we behold.  We commit, until we don’t.

For most of us, there is a certain period of time where it is easy to commit fully to whatever endeavor we desire.  We can diet for a week.  We can quit smoking for a month.  We can give up electronics after 8 pm until 10 pm when that text comes chiming in.  Commitment is rather easy when the time frame is indeterminate and all we have are the best of intentions.  “I can do anything for 21 days, and then it will be a habit I won’t even want to stop.”  I can’t tell you how many times I have said this personally.  I don’t care if it’s 21 hours, 21 days, or 21 months, if something goes against my earthly desires long enough, I quit.

And that is what has put me where I am today.  I want to be a writer.  I want to put ink to paper and create a book, plays, lectures, blogs and anything else that may come into my head.  Yet, something that should be done all the time is neglected because I give up on the resolution to sit down without distraction and write something, ANYTHING, every single day.  I want to save more money.  I’d like to see my bank account grow so that when my wife and I are in our 60s and 70s we can do some of the things we haven’t done yet, and so that we can help others in ways we never thought possible.  Yet, we still eat out more than in.  We still buy whatever latest gadget catches our eyes.  We still refuse to sacrifice now, for the greater good later.  And I want to lose weight and get healthy.  How many other people can say this?  I want to eat right, exercise, and see a number on the scale, and in my pants, that make simple addition require a calculator.  And year after year, I resolve to do all of these things.  And year after year, I fail.  I FAIL.

However, as the Mythbusters said, “Failure is always an option,” and when asked about the disappointing results of his invention, Thomas Edison replied, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Well that’s me, in a nutshell.  I’ve found dozens of diets that will not work for me.  I’ve found tons of ways of saving money that will not work for my life.  I have found distraction after distraction that stop me from success in writing a single page.  And in each case, I have finally realized that there is a valuable lesson to learn.  Resolutions are like life.  They need A.I.R. in order to survive!

Accountability

As a former Soldier and current military spouse I have learned one thing about the Army life.  Nothing ever gets done alone.  Soldiers have battle buddies.  Those buddies are part of a Squad.  That squad is part of a Platoon.  That Platoon is part of a Company, and so on.  They look out for one another.  They share goals.  Each Soldier has a vested interest in the health and well-being of every other Soldier because only together can the fulfill their missions.

Make no mistake, resolutions are missions, or at least should be treated as such if we want to see success.  Keeping them in the dark from others is just like making them Missions Impossible.  We need help.  I know I do.  Trying to eat better, put more in the bank, or give up distractions may seem simple when we think about it.  But if it was easy, procrastination wouldn’t be a word.  Quitting wouldn’t be considered.  Failure wouldn’t be seen.  Yet here we are, another year has gone by, and the resolutions are the same.  It’s time to get others on board with what we want to do.

This means we have to be held ACCOUNTABLE.  Accountability is one of those words I learned in church.  Preachers would tell us to find an accountability partner that we could call or count on when times got tough.  When we find ourselves going down the path of an evil temptation, our accountability partner would be there to reel us back in and save us from ourselves.  It’s not a difficult concept to grasp.  Find someone in your life who is going to walk you off the ledge when you are about to fall, or who will take you to task when a momentary lack in judgement causes the temptation to get the better of you.  And find someone who will do it with tough love.

It’s easy to find a friend who you can ask to hold you accountable for your actions.  I’ve had several accountability partners in my life.  The issue is that I don’t like to be held accountable.  So, after I mess up, tell the truth, and have a long talk with one of these friends, I find myself more than unwilling to fess up again.  It’s not in my nature to allow another person to point out why I’m failing.  BUT I AM FAILING.  Then, because I still want to do it without being chastised (which they are not doing, but I am taking it as such) when I mess up, I decide to try and go it alone.  That doesn’t work either.

Together we achieve, alone we quit.  It’s a rather simple acknowledgement isn’t it.  Can you tell me a time in your life when that isn’t true?  I didn’t get through college without the help of my parents, study partners, and (ahem) designated drivers.  I didn’t survive basic training without my wife’s encouragement, my battle buddies’ patience, and my drill sergeants’ coaching.  I have never done anything without at least one person being there to back me up or push me forward when needed.  Alone I quit.  EVERYTIME.

We need other people, and that is really what accountability should be all about.  It isn’t about having that person that calls us to the carpet.  It’s about having other people to share in our lives.  Sure, I need to be told to put the cookie down, or to not buy the newest version of the iPhone, but I also need to just sit, and talk, and listen to others who are struggling like I am.  Accountability isn’t about being guilted because you have to tell someone else your sins.  It’s about sharing in common life experiences with others who just want to see you reach your goals as you hope and pray and help them reach theirs.

To that end I am not just holding myself accountable, but I’m relying on a group of great individuals to help me.  We get together once a week or more just to talk about life.  We can confess struggles.  We can share successes.  We can be ourselves.  And I know that through their difficulties they can talk me through mine, and I can be there for them.  That’s what accountability is all about.  It’s about sharing life, completely, happily, even in the biggest of messes.  Without it,  the mess never gets cleaned up and you’ll still be alone.

Investment

The second component our resolutions need is an investment.  Look, if we think that resolutions are just going to be easy, well… ok, we don’t really think that.  If you still do, you haven’t been paying attention to all of the failure out there.  When we think something is going to be easy, we put very little into it, and then we quit when it isn’t as easy as we perceived.  There has to be an investment in our resolutions if we want them to pay off.  It’s simple economics.

I’ve heard it said that three most important things we can give in the service of others is our time, our talents, and our treasures (money).  I think this is true because they are three of the most important aspects of our lives.  We have a limited amount of time.  Our talents help shape who we are.  And money, well most of us dislike giving that away.  In fact, as we get older and learn more about where our place in the world actually is, we guard these resources as our own lifeblood.  We have to keep them, and keep them safe.  And if we are going to spend any of them we make sure we are getting something very valuable in return.

That’s where investments come in.  We invest in the stock market to make sure our future is secure.  We invest in our work or hobbies because we want to share our knowledge and our gifts with others in order to make our families, communities or the world a better place, and we invest our time in so many things, all in the hopes that it will make us happier, more comfortable and worthy of this life.  But have we ever thought about how we need to invest all of these things into our resolutions if we want to see success?

I can give countless examples about why each of these things should be invested into our resolutions but I won’t.  We all know that taking time to do something, using our talents to do it, and spending treasures on things that will help are parts of success.  What I will say is this.  Our willingness to invest in our resolutions whole heartedly are what will determine the level of success we actually want.  If I want to lose weight to be healthy, but aren’t willing to spend a little more for healthier foods, I may lose weight by eating less, but am I fixing the other health issues caused by processed junk?  If I want to spend less, but am unwilling to take the time to balance my checkbook or figure out things I can cut, am I ever going to really see the bank account grow?  If I hold back of my natural abilities, because of distractions or procrastination, am I ever going to see words on a page come to life?  Of course not, because I haven’t made the investment.

Personally, I want to be so committed to my goals for the year that I am willing to invest.  I’ve spent money.  I’ve taken the time.  And I have put forth the effort with my gifts to make sure that I have started on the right foot.  And even just one week in, I am seeing a return on that investment.  That makes me willing to invest more, hoping for a bigger return.  (in my case loss, wink, wink)  I hope we can all do this, and find the proper balance for our investments.  We can be successful but only if we are truly invested in what we want to achieve.

Reward

This is the one everyone is going to agree with me on.  Like Accountability and Investment, our resolutions need a reward if we are going to succeed.  Actually, I believe they need multiple rewards throughout the year.  Heck, each of us is different, so while I may need a reward every few months just to keep me motivated, others may need some small token every day.  The amount of the reward or the how often it comes varies, but the importance remains.  We all need something to focus on in order to continually fight in the pursuit of our goals.

What was that quote, “Virtue is its own reward?”  Well that certainly is nice in sentiment, but l want something else.  I want something stuck out in front of me that I can fight for each and every day.  Football players aren’t playing their best simply because playing their best is its own reward and it doesn’t matter who wins.  They are playing their best for a shot at the Super Bowl.  When it comes to resolutions I would be the first to admit that six pack abs and a great cholesterol level should be enough to wake me up for crunches every morning, but they don’t.  I need some boxed up gift waiting for me when I succeed.  A new car maybe?  Definitely new clothes.  Something I would never get on my own that would motivate me.  We all need this whether we want to admit it or not.  (I think we can all admit it.)

Rewards are great motivators because they can be used to help teach us habits.  I know it worked with my puppies.  When I was teaching them to scratch on the door to go outside I would give them a treat.  Soon I didn’t have to teach them to scratch on the door.  After that I didn’t even have to give them treat.  They just knew if they scratched I would let them out.  It works the same for us.  My wife and I have a deal that we will save a certain amount every month toward a vacation, and the amount we save will determine the vacation.  To this end, when we started the plan, I would put cash in a jar, and would get to add up how much was in the jar.  For me that was a reward because I could see the money grow.  After a couple months it just became habit to put the money in the jar.  I stopped adding it up because I knew it was growing, and didn’t need the reminder.

Another reason rewards are so helpful is because they give us something to reach for.  I remember back in 2nd grade my teacher decided that we should all have to learn who the 40 Presidents of the United States were.  That’s right 40!  Yes, America had only had 40 Presidents by the time I was in 2nd grade.  Anyway, we had to know them in order.  And whoever could remember the most would win this felt camel wall hanging that held colored pencils.  I remember studying hard.  I’m not sure why I wanted a felt, colored pencil holding camel, but I did and I wanted it bad.

Washington, Adams, Jefferson through Jackson were pretty easy.  Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon…through FDR were easy as well.  Those were at the beginning and end.  Then of course, Presidents like Lincoln, Kennedy and Garfield were easy to remember too.  (this was the height of Garfield the Cat’s comic success.)  It was the one term Presidents with no real place in a 2nd grade history book that was hard to remember.  I mean, even today, I have a hard time placing Presidents Harrison, Fillmore or Hayes.  Yet, when the time came, I spouted off as many as I could as fast as I could.  And I don’t remember the score, but I was sure I had won.  I was certain of it.

Thing was, I didn’t get the prize.  As time went on, we never heard who had won.  We didn’t see the camel either.  The teacher had either given it to the winner without fanfare or we had been duped into learning something.  Certainly, she wouldn’t have done that to us.  After all we were at a Catholic school.  Wouldn’t tricking children be against the law of God or something.  Yet, no prize was given.  What’s worse, though I never said anything, I think I was the only one who noticed.

It wasn’t until the end of the year when I found out.  Most of the students were gone, having left for their summer vacations.  But a few of us stayed on that last day to finish cleaning desks, stacking books and wiping chalkboards.  The teacher was also there cleaning out her desk too.  When she got to the bottom drawer she said huh, making each of us look up.  She pulled out that felt camel with the colored pencils, and puzzling said, “I thought I gave this away already.”  I was the first to reply, “WHO WON?”  I expressed, still as eager to win the prize.  “You did,” she exclaimed, and I finally got my well-deserved camel and colored pencils.

In that moment, I knew that the reward was the motivating factor in me learning the Presidents.  I haven’t forgotten them either.  I can still name 90% in order.  (A couple of the names sometimes slip my mind.)  I heard a fact that most Americans can’t name more than 8 Presidents.  Seems to me more teachers need to be giving away colored pencils.

Anyway, we need rewards if we hope to see our resolutions succeed.  We need something that will help us create habits that contribute to daily success and something that will causes us to focus long term on the goals we have created for ourselves.  Just wanting to do something isn’t enough. We have to have something we want waiting for us at the end.

And that’s the end of this piece.  We need AIR.  We need it to live.  We need it to breathe.  We need it to be all around us in order for the world to continue supporting us.  And our resolutions need AIR too.  They need us to be Accountable to others because life isn’t meant to be lived alone.  They need us to invest in them.  We have to put something on the line so we have a reason to fight for success.  And they need rewards.  Tangible things that will keep us focused day in and day out toward the goals we have set.  If we breathe these things into our resolutions, we can’t help but see positive change in 2018.

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Bacon Bleu Cheese Salad

Bacon Blue Cheese Salad

I am not much of a salad person unless I am eating at a Steakhouse or find something unusual that can tickle the taste buds. This salad definitely does that, plus is simple to make.

  Ingredients

5-6 Slices of Bacon
I Bag of Spring Mix
1 4 oz container of Blue Cheese Crumbles
¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 Roma Tomatoes

Directions

1. Fry Bacon in skillet over medium heat. Once cooked, move to paper towel to drain and filter Bacon grease through a sieve into a glass measuring cup. You should have between ¼ cup and 1/3 cup of grease.

2. Dice tomatoes and place them along with spring mix, and 3 oz of the blue cheese crumbles in a bowl. Toss to combine.

3. Put Vinegar in with bacon grease and add remaining blue cheese crumbles. Whisk that to combine and then add to salad. Combine all ingredients until fully integrated.

4. Crumble bacon and add to salad. Stir to combine one last time.

Enjoy!

Mr. Army Wife gets a job!

Are you ready to join the Women's Army Corps?

I used to be somewhat of a traditionalist when it came to men and women. I think it had to do with my upbringing. My mom stayed home with my brother and I. She cooked and cleaned and ran us all around town when we needed to go to baseball practice or cub scouts. She was a team mom, and class chaperone, and a scoutmaster. She did all of the things that a Mom in Melbourne, FL did during the 1970s and 80s. At least that I saw moms do. That’s what I grew up with and that’s how my opinions of roles were first formed.

However, I was never told that life had to be lived that way. Mom had goals. She wanted to get her college degree and become a teacher. After she achieved those goals, she set new ones. She wanted to earn a Master’s degree, teach college and use her skills in various ways. All of that happened. She set her eyes on a Doctorate, and now in her (age deleted so I still get Christmas and Birthday presents,) she is still pursuing that goal and setting new ones. However, she is still Mom, supporting her 2 sons, her husband and now her daughters-in-law, and grandchildren. She’s an amazing woman.

It wasn’t until later in life, after Heather and I joined the Army and I became Mr. Army Wife that I learned that my mother had another goal. She had the goal of serving in the military. At 18 years of age, Mom wanted to leave the house and sign up to serve her country. Unfortunately, that goal never came to fruition. You see, in the 1970s, girls between the ages of 18-21 had to receive permission from their parent or guardian to enlist. My grandfather said no and Mom stayed home. While something we may not understand today, in hindsight it turned out much better for her. She married my Dad at 19 and birthed her awesome son just three years later. She gave birth to her other son 2 years after that and her family was complete. Had she joined the Army that might not have happened. Lucky for me Granddaddy knew what he was doing.

Now, why am I telling you a story about my mother, and her desire to be a Soldier? Well, because I have recently taken a consulting gig with the Friends of the US Army Women’s Museum. Basically, I am charged with telling the Army story and the stories of the brave women who have served since the dawn of our Country. To whom do I tell these stories? Anyone who will listen. This generation of Soldiers is a big group. The next generation of Soldiers, that’s important too. We go out to schools or welcome them in to share our history.

In order to educate though, you must first be educated. I thought I knew a lot about women serving in the military. After all, I am Mr. Army Wife. My bride is now a Captain (promotable) in the Army. I knew that women used to serve in clerical positions so more men could go off and fight during WW2. I knew that some women during the revolution or civil war used to disguise themselves like men so they too could serve their country. I knew that as time has progressed, so have the roles for women in the military. But, oh how little did I know.

Margaret Corbin the first female US Soldier

Margaret Corbin the first female US Soldier

Let’s start at the beginning. Did you know that the first woman to receive an Army’s pension was Margaret Corbin? During the Revolutionary War she followed her husband off to battle. She would tend to injuries or cook for the men. When John Corbin was killed, her role changed and she picked up right where he left off firing his cannon. Legend has it that she was a much better shot than her husband and other men fighting would stop and look knowing it couldn’t be John hitting the targets. Congress authorized her pension in 1779, making her the first official US female service member.

Did you know the only female to earn the Medal of Honor did so during the Civil War? Dr. Mary E. Walker was an assistant surgeon serving with the Union Army in Tennessee. She was captured and imprisoned for a

time in Richmond, VA . After her release she returned to the war, this time at a prisoner of war camp in Louisville, KY. It was President Andrew Johnson who awarded Dr. Walker with her Medal of Honor.

It goes on from there. During WW1 most of the women serving with the Army were with the Army Nurses Corp, but other were trained as radio electricians, secretaries, or accountants. Some 230 women were trained to be telephone operators, and quickly received the nickname “Hello Girls.” They served overseas during the war, but sadly were quickly dismissed when the war was

The "Hello Girls" served overseas because of their bilingual skills.

The “Hello Girls” served overseas because of their bilingual skills.

over without official discharges or pensions. These women and others fought to change this and in 1979 they were officially recognized as Soldiers. A majority of them passed away before this happened.

It wasn’t until WW2 that women who joined the ranks of the Army were granted some of the same protections as their male counterparts. It wasn’t equality by any means, and it would take to long to list all of the differences here, but the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) was an official branch of the Army. By the time WW2 ended WACs, as the female soldiers have come to be known, had served in every theater of operation both in Europe and the Pacific. They distinguished themselves and earned various medals and citations. 160 WACs lost their lives in non-combat related ways. Women were now a part of the Army, and they would never look back.

Women continue to make history in the Army. We’ve seen news story after news story about the brave women who are risking their lives on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2010 Sergeant Sherri Gallagher became the first woman ever named “Best Warrior’s Soldier of the Year.” And just last week, (Feb 2015) 5 female soldiers passed the Ranger Assessment Training Course bringing them closer to being the first females to attend and possibly pass the Ranger Training School. That’s pretty badass!!!

Why am I telling you all this? I’m telling you this because I am an advocate for women in the military. I know a lot of women who serve or have served and for the most part it has been an extreme pleasure getting to know them and serving with them. However, I am also telling you this because for everything I thought I knew, there are dozens of things about women in the military that I didn’t know. I didn’t know about Margaret Corbin and her cannon skills. I didn’t know about Dr. Walker, the prisoner of war, Medal of Honor surgeon, and I didn’t know about the “Hello Girls.” Now I do, and it’s all because of one place…The US Army Women’s Museum.

I don’t want this to sound like an advertisement for the museum because I think everyone in the Fort Lee area should come and visit, (which I do) or because I think everyone else should check out their Facebook page (which you should.) No, I want this to be a story about how I have come to respect the immense about of work women have had to do, and the insane amount of scrutiny they have had to endure to get to where they are in today’s military. It’s crazy to think that we are 100 years past the beginning of American involvement in WW1. During that time we have gone from 35,000 women serving in just a handful of fields, not even as regular members of the Army, to more than 350,000 serving in all branches of the military in more than 400 occupational specialties.

There is one other thing I believe is important to say in this piece. Women can claim one thing about their service to our country that men will never be able to do. Every woman, every single female who has ever served in the US Armed Forces, volunteered to do so. There has never been a draft in place for females. So when Margaret Corbin watched her husband die, and then picked up his weapon and used it against the very men who had just slain her beloved, she did so of her own free will. When your great grandmothers joined the Army Nurses Corps in WW1 or the WAC in WW2, they did so without the government drawing their number out of a hat. Millions of families were affected by the drafting of their husbands, sons and fathers into service. That should never be trivialized. Yet, neither can the fact that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of women have also served their country and every one of them walked into an office and willingly signed their name on the dotted line. Once again, pretty badass.

I have heard it said that the Woman’s Museum is important because it teaches women’s history in the US Army, but that’s a pretty limited and rather sexist view. The museum is important because these stories are part of the complete picture that is the US Army and US military. It is a part of the legacy that stretches across many generations. I can trace my family military tree back at least 4 of those generations. My Great Grandfather was a cook in the Army. My Grandfather was a B-29 gunner. My Father was an Electronic Repair Specialist on some big missiles. I was a Broadcast Journalist. My wife, well she’s achieved more than the four of us combined. She is a Logistics Officer. She’s served with distinction for almost 14 years. She’s deployed twice, been a Company Commander, and a Battle Captain. She is not just the woman in our family’s military history, she’s the ALL STAR Soldier in our history, and she just happens to be female.

So, I USED to be a bit of a traditionalist when it came to men and women. I used to think I would go to work and then come home to do my chores of mowing the yard and changing the oil in the cars. Now, I cook. I clean. I do the laundry and make the bed. And, I still mow the yard and make sure the oil is changed. I’m proud to do it. After all, my wife is a Soldier in the United States Army. To me, that’s pretty badass.

You can learn more about the US Army Women’s Museum by visiting their Facebook page at this link, https://www.facebook.com/usarmywomensmuseum.

You can learn more about women in the US Army or sister services by using Google. (DUH)

Remembering Robin…

robinI want to write something today. I want to be profound and entertaining. I want to be upbeat and somewhat comedic if that’s possible. I want to allow my words to say something that can make people, smile, think and maybe even comment back. Yet, the only thing I can seem to think about is Robin Williams. It’s been that way for four days now, since learning of his passing. Why? Celebrity deaths are not something that usually make me thing twice. They are a part of life. Everyone dies. But this one is somehow different. I guess I will work through it here. I can remember the first movie I watched starring Robin Williams. It was “Popeye.” For Robin’s first starring movie role he would bring the cartoon favorite to the big screen. Olive Oyl was there. Bluto was there. Sweet Pea was there. But at the forefront was Robin Williams, incredibly strong, yet not wanting to eat his spinach. I remember watching it over and over again when it came on HBO. I remember being scared by the gigantic octopus that almost took Popeye down. It was my first Robin Williams experience. Yet, if you are like me, it wasn’t the last. Robin had this unique ability to pop up in unexpected ways, even when you knew he was going to be there. He was seemingly out of control on “The Tonight Show” while wearing the jacket that was part of his costume in “Flubber.” He was on the small screen with a cameo in “Friends” for two minutes, yet stole the episode. Even movies that didn’t do well at the box office are filled with moments of his incredible comedic timing and unique talent. But at the end of the day, none of these things normally make me think twice about a celebrity passing. Chris Farley was talented and gone too soon, yet I can’t remember giving it a second thought. Heath Ledger, who was in too of my favorite movies, “10 Things I Hate about You, and “The Dark Knight,” died without me having any noticeable reaction. Even Michael Jackson, who undeniably, influenced my generation with his music, dancing and showmanship never got to me. So why Robin Williams? Why do I keep thinking about his death, and why is it affecting me. Maybe it is the way he died? While tragic, this is not the case, and I do not to make light of his depression, his demons or whatever other emotionally overloading things he had going on in his life. I don’t know enough about the subject or the reason why people make the decisions they make in that regard to comment on it more, but it is not the way that Mr. Williams passed away that is going through my mind. It is something else. Sitting here, thinking about it, my mind keeps going to the influence he had. I never met the man, but two things he did, keep coming to my mind. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize that those things have periodically come to my mind throughout the years. The reason why I am thinking of Robin Williams now that he is gone is because he actually influenced my life while he was living. In 1986, with two friend, Billy Crystal and Whoopie Goldberg, Robin Williams hosted the first of many Comic Relief performances on HBO. While I was too young to stay up late and watch the show, I did catch some of it and watched the entire thing when it came out on VHS. It was that night that I became fascinated with Stand Up Comedy. Standing on a stage in front of thousands of people seemed exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time. It was the first time I can remember wanting to have the ability to make people laugh. It was the first time I can remember wanting to be someone who would provide moments of comedy to situations that weren’t exactly funny. It was the first time I ever had the thought that I would perform in some capacity. Add to the fact that all of these comics, both legends and newbies were out there to help a growing problem, the one of homelessness. For his part, Robin told jokes, but he also lent his talent to show how the issue of homelessness didn’t just affect those without a place to lay their head but also those of us blessed enough to have homes. In his talented way, he was able to use his gifts to help the world be a better place. And he was able to make us laugh at the same time.   Here we are 28 years later, and I still remember the 3 hour show that sparked a 20 year campaign to help those who were on hard times. That’s his influence.

Radio DJ

AFN KOREA radio booth. Gooooood Morning Kooooreeeeaaaaa!

In 2001, my wife Heather and I joined the Army. We were looking to pay off some student loans and in March, the world was still a considerably safe place. While sitting in the recruiting office, looking for a job skill we would like to pursue, we came across the 46 Romeo career identifier. That job? Broadcast Journalist. Across the globe the military service branches have public affairs broadcasters tasked with using radio and television to disseminate information and air programming to military personnel and their families. With the chance to be on TV and the radio, I jumped at the job. (Heather came along as well, though with a little less jumping.) Before leaving for basic training, Heather and I watched a lot of Army movies, including one called, “Good Morning Vietnam.” Robin Williams stars in that as Air Force Broadcaster Adrian Cronauer.   Mr. Cronauer was a real broadcaster during the Vietnam War, and Williams brought that to life. In fact, his signature line in that movie, “Goooooooooooooooooooooooood, Morning, Vietnammmmmm” might be the most recognizable line of his career. It certainly is the most recognizable line among military broadcasters. While I can’t speak for all of them, I can say that every time I sat at a radio soundboard and turned on the microphone, I wanted to shout good morning followed by wherever I was stationed. I don’t think I was the only one. I think it’s that movie, and that role that makes me think about Robin Williams more than any other celebrity that has died unexpectedly. Why? For those two hours, our lives in a small way ran parallel. Were there great differences? Of course, but in some ways, Robin’s life was lived out in Good Morning Vietnam and gives me perspective on how I want my life to play out. In the movie the troops stationed in Vietnam couldn’t wait to listen to his show everyday. They would huddle around the radio waiting for his signature line, his comedic wit and his defiance of authority. In those few short hours, Adrian, as portrayed by Robin, made their unbearable situations bearable. He allowed them to forget the unforgettable. He made a war that could only be described as hell, feel a little bit like home.   That takes talent. Looking back at Robin’s life, I think that is what he tried to do through his work. We could go to one of his movies even on the most stressful of days and laugh. We could watch one of his appearances on numerous talk shows and be taken aback at his crazy demeanor despite whatever was troubling us. We could look at a blank stage and know that when he stepped onto it, it was going to come alive. Our hearts were going to come alive, and our funny bones were going to be tortured. It may have only lasted for a couple of hours. We may have had to return to a life we didn’t want to endure, but for that brief time, Robin Williams had made things just a little better. Robin played many different characters. He was an alien and a robot. He voiced cartoons and was live action cartoon characters. He portrayed Presidents and CEOs. His talents went from stage, to screen to small screen. He worked to help those in need and to entertain those who defend our freedom. He was a father, and husband and a friend to a lot of people. Robin Williams died at the age of 63. He was younger than some, older than some, but today all we have are memories. Today, a new generation will remember him in the way that I remember names like Judy Garland, Bing Crosby and Elvis. He will be another influential entertainer that they will enjoy watching, but can never fully appreciate because they didn’t have the chance to see all of him in different ways. Yet, he still leaves a legacy. He leaves me, Mr. Army Wife, a guy with a small blog and the ability to make some people laugh, want to leave this world better than I found it. He makes me want to make the unbearable, bearable, if only for a moment. I just hope I can do that, and that I can in some small way we will all remember him in the process. It’s the least I can do.

Soldier’s Delight

Before Heather and I were married I would come over to apartment and cook dinner for her and her roommates. This is one of the dishes I found in a random cookbook that was on the shelf in their kitchen. The recipe called it Husband’s Delight, but I have changed the name and a couple of ingredients in order to make it better for us. This is now my go to recipe for Meal Trains after families have babies. It is wonderful and one of those dishes that only gets better then next day.

Ingredients

12 oz. Egg Noodles (Whole Wheat)

1 TBSP Olive Oil

1 – 1 ½ lbs ground beef

15 oz can Tomato Sauce

3 Cloves of Garlic

1 TBSP Sugar

Salt and Pepper to taste

8 oz Cream Cheese (softened)

8 oz Sour Cream

5 Green Onions sliced into small rings

8 oz Cheddar Cheese

 

Directions

  1. Boil Noodles according to package directions. Once cooked, drain and set inside a 9 x13 casserole dish.
  1. Over medium heat, heat Olive oil and garlic for 2 minutes. Add ground beef and cook until browned approximately 6-8 minutes. Add tomato sauce, sugar, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes.
  1. In separate bowl, combine Cream Cheese, Sour Cream and Green Onion.
  1. Shred Cheddar Cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  1. To Assemble, put meat mixture on top of noodles. Place Cream Cheese mixture on top of the meat, and then top with cheddar. Bake for 25 – 35 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Serve with Biscuits for a great meal.

Bringing Sexy Back!!!

I can’t help but think that what I am about to write is going to get me into hot water with some of you spouses.  I can’t help but believe that as much as you say you want to know what your men are thinking, you really don’t want to hear it.  I can’t help but believe that while a lot of you are going to read this and think about what I am writing, some of you are going to be angry with me.  You are going to feel like I am judging you and your relationship personally.  Let me assure you now that I am not.  I don’t know very many of you personally at all, and the ones I do know, know that I have their best interests at heart when I speak about relationships.  With all that being said, let’s get to it.  This article won’t write or read itself.

Ladies, you are letting yourselves go.  I am not judging each of you individually, but rather as a group, because when I walk around my local PX, Commissary or other store, I can see the trend.  Spouses of Soldiers have become a group who no longer cares what they look like or what they do.  A vast majority, have just given up.  Let me give you a few examples.

-If you wear pajama pants to the store, you have given up.

-If your sweatpants have pockets in the back, you have given up.

-If your hair is all ways of crazy, and not on purpose, you have given up.

-If you get back in the car to sit down while your gas tank is filling, you have given up.

-If you go through the drive-thru and then eat your food in the parking lot, you have given up.

Calm down, stop screaming, there might be exceptions to some of these (not for the pajama pants), but from a man’s perspective these are just a few of the examples that show us that you are no longer interested.  What is worse is that it isn’t showing us that you aren’t interested in us. It shows us that you aren’t interested in yourself.  You have given up trying to be the very best person that you can be.  That kind of makes us sad.  Please ladies, do your husbands, your Soldiers, your heroes a favor. It’s time to bring the Sexy back.

I hope you notice that not once did I mention your weight or a number on a scale.  The fact is that women are far more likely to judge themselves based on those things than their men are.  Don’t get me wrong, we look at weight, and I will go into that a little more later, but overall, a woman’s sexiness is not based on the size of her belt line.  My fat ass is certainly not going to judge you for that.  I know the difficulties that come with an extra chin hanging around for the ride.

My hypothesis rather is this, women are no longer interested in themselves because they have either lost or never had the confidence to be beautiful in their own eyes, which makes it a lot less likely for them to be beautiful in the eyes of others.  Confidence equals sexiness, at least in the long term.  It doesn’t matter what you look like, or what your personality.  If you don’t have confidence, you are going to lose the sexiness factor every time.

Let me put it this way.  Two ladies are walking side by side in the PX.  One got out of bed, tied her hair up in some crazy way, put Crocs on and got in her car.  The other took the time to take a shower, do her hair, put on a little make up, a dress and nice pair of shoes. (You all love to define how you look based on the shoes you wear…I don’t get it, but I do like it)  I ask you, which one is more likely to get a few nods, smiles, or winks?  Which is more likely to get their picture on the peopleofwalmart.com website?

It doesn’t matter whether these ladies are overweight or thin as a string bean, the one who respects herself enough to give her the best possible chance at a great day, is the one who is going to be seen as a strong, confident and sexy woman.  The other is going to be ignored.  This translates to the marriage even more, and that is what I am really interested in helping.

I think it is probably a safe bet to say that most of you military wives think your husbands are drop dead sexy in their Army uniforms.  Women love a man in uniform and the military uniform just seems to do something to make men more beautiful than ever in your eyes.  I’m not going to deny the appeal, but I am going to tell you that as much as I love my wife, and as beautiful as I believe she is, I am not particularly attracted to her uniform.  Why do you think that is?

Easy, the uniform does not add confidence to my wife like it does with most men.  Men put on that military uniform and become tougher, stronger, and more capable of taking the world by storm.  While this may happen for a lot of women, it isn’t the case for my wife.  The uniform doesn’t enhance her best personality traits.  Therefore, it doesn’t add to the sexiness.  However, you put her in a dress and a set of heels, and the transformation is much different.  She walks with a different swagger.  The aura around her shines a little brighter.  You can tell that she feels sexier in the dress and heels, and therefore has more confidence.  That confidence is what makes her sexy.

After 14 years of marriage I have learned this one thing.  Being comfortable in your own skin is what makes you sexy.  It isn’t about your weight.  If you feel like your weight is preventing you from being sexy, you have two choices, be happy or lose weight.  Otherwise, you are just going to be mired in self-pity and that isn’t sexy to anyone.  Get up.  Get to work.  Do whatever it is that will make you sexy in your own eyes.  I assure your, your husband will see you as sexy again too.

You want some help huh?  What do I think you should do to make that happen?  Well, here are a few things…

  1. Take a shower daily.  I wish this didn’t have to be said, but it does.  I know the baby is screaming and dinner won’t cook itself and the house is a disaster, and the car is broken, but the shower is about so much more than getting clean.  It’s about giving yourself 10 minutes to breath.  If you have to get up at 5 am when your husband leaves for PT in order to get that shower, do it.  It is the first and most important way that we can feel better about ourselves.
  1. Get dressed!  I can remember when I was in high school and college all the girls had to wear the latest fashions and had to dress up almost every day because they were trying to impress the football stud or the class president.  Then we all get married and it is like we have no reason to impress anyone at all.  But, a pair of jeans and a shirt at least lets people know, including most importantly your husband, that you have your shit together.  How you look, represents how your house looks, how your family looks and how your personality looks.  Believe me those gossipy women at the FRG meeting are not talking about how much they can’t believe that one woman had the gall to wear a skirt and flats.  Nope they are talking about the Pajama pants woman, and they won’t forget her.
  1. Make the bed!   I don’t think I can emphasize this one enough.  There is something about completing a task in the morning that can influence your entire day.  Nothing did more for my marriage in the bedroom than making the bed each morning has done.  There is something about climbing into a made bed that just brings the best out in people.  You will get better nights sleep, you will be able to cuddle better, and you will appreciate the accomplishment more than you know.  It is a two-minute chore with a lifetime of rewards.  Do it.
  1. Solicit his help!  I am going to let you in on this secret.  I have become an expert at picking out clothes for my wife.  She won’t even go shopping without me now.  I don’t think this because she doesn’t have taste.  Rather, I believe it’s because I only want to see her look her absolute best and so if something doesn’t make her look great, I’ll tell her.   You can’t be afraid to let your husband be honest with you about how you look.  If he doesn’t think it makes you look your best, it doesn’t matter how great it looks on the hanger, he is never going to like you in it.  The best way for you to start feeling better about yourself is to trust in the opinions of those who love you most.  Your hubby knows, get him to tell you the truth.
  1. Go for a walk!  This is not about exercising to lose weight, although that certainly can be a by-product.  Taking 30 minutes to do something completely for yourself is going to give you the confidence to know that you matter to yourself.  I think this is a major problem in today’s world.  Women put everyone in front of themselves and therefore their own personal time is taken away.  This takes away their feeling of autonomy, which takes away from their confidence.  You can’t do that.

These five things just barely scratch the surface of things you can do to help build confidence.  Setting goals for things you never thought possible and then working toward those goals is another way.  Opening yourself up to new experiences is another.  In fact there are endless ways to find your confidence.  Each case is different.  Each person is different.  But all of you have the ability to be comfortable in your own skin.  You are uniquely you.  Be the best you that you can be.

Let me end by saying this.  We all want our marriages to be something written about in the greatest love stories.  We want our spouses to look at us each day with the same love that was present on the day we said “I DO.”  But it takes effort.  Marriages are hard work, and as much as we want to train the other person to live in our world, we have to train ourselves to live in theirs as well.  If your husband doesn’t see you as sexy anymore, ask yourself, is it because he has changed or because you have given up.  I know I gave up at one point.  I know I just didn’t care.  It was my fault.  Even as a man, I lost my confidence and my sexiness.  At least the sexiness that she sees.

Confidence only comes by caring about YOU.  Athletes gain confidence because they care enough to put in the hours of practice that it takes to become great.  Soldiers gain confidence because they care enough to focus on their training and on their missions.  You can gain confidence by caring enough about how you present yourself that you will always be just as sexy as you have always been.

From a man’s perspective, sexiness has much more to do with confidence that it does with looks.  If you carry yourself with an attitude and aura that screams, “I love who I am!” we will love you too.  Give yourself that chance.  You deserve it.

Marital Trust Experiment Final Thoughts

Steve:  At the beginning of July, Heather and I wanted to have some fun with all of the clothes in her closet.  Basically, I threw out the challenge that I could pick out her clothes for 30 days without repeating any single piece with the exception being shoes.  This stemmed from Heather’s insistence that she, “had nothing to wear,” and my insistence that she had a heck of a lot more to wear than she thought.  Basically, I was asking Heather to trust me to pick out her clothes for 30 days, and give me the opportunity so show her that there are a lot more outfits than she thought.

What did I learn?  Here are the top 3 things (Spoiler Alert:  Ladies, you already know this stuff I bet)

1.  For Heather, clothes can set the tone of the day!  My clothes are about form and function.  I need 5 shirts and 5 pairs of shorts to get through my week because that is what is practical, but what I found in Heather is that what she wears directly can affect her mood.  If she doesn’t like something or think something makes her look a certain way, she reacts in that way.  That made me very conscience of the things I picked out.  It also made me watch her reactions closely when looking at things so that I could try not to make the same mistakes twice.

2.  The hanger is not the body!  There are clothes out there that look great on a hanger, but don’t look great on a particular person, and vice versa.  I think buying an outfit without trying it on to see how it looks on you is tantamount to placing a bet without looking at your cards.  At that point it is just a crap shoot.  Heather has some clothes that are cute, but just don’t work on her for any given reason.  She also has some clothes that I look at and think, “Holy Horrible Batman!”  But once she puts them on, they work!  Take the time to try in on…it will work better for you in the end.

3.  What you wear really can help your marriage!  Ok, I might get some push back here, but I will stick by this until the day I die.  I know that after 12 years of marriage we are supposed to be comfortable with one another in every way.  Heather and I have seen each other at our bests and worsts to be sure, but being comfortable with one another can quickly turn into a lack of trying and that can’t be good.  What I saw this month was that when Heather was dressed in clothing that wasn’t just shorts and t-shirts, she had more confidence.  She felt better about herself, and she was overall happier.  This made me see her as even more sexy than I saw her before (which is hard).  In turn, I wanted to dress better, and look better for her.  It becomes cyclical.

Overall, I think this experiment was a huge success.  First, I won!  Heather has a lot of clothes left over.  Sure they are mostly t-shirts and winter clothes, but there are still 5 dresses that I like, a black A-line skirt, and a couple pairs of khakis that could be paired with a couple of blouses that are still in the closet.  But, the experiment was a success because Heather totally trusted me.  She had faith that I wouldn’t put her in clothes that would make her look ridiculous.  I didn’t mismatch colors.  The other thing is that she trusted me to choose event or day appropriate clothing.  That takes a lot of trust considering I’m a guy and event appropriate for me are about the same for church, a picnic, or a sporting event.

I thank Heather for going through this with me.  I thank her for accepting the challenge.  And I thank her for not using her vetoes.  It’s been awesome Babe!  I love you!

Heather:

This experiment really was fun! In the last couple years, Steve has really become very good at fashion and picking out clothes and shoes for me so when he proposed this challenge I knew he would do well. I wasn’t sure how well with the clothes currently in my closet, but he did it! And I also learned some things…

It really does make a difference what you’re wearing for the day. As Steve stated above, he could tell a difference in my mood. I felt better on the days I was dressed up, even if I wasn’t doing anything significant. It felt nice to have a dress on just because. And I feel sexier when I wear heels. Steve has bugged me for years to wear heels more often, but I fight it because to me they were uncomfortable and I prefer shoes that are closer to the ground. C’mon, I wear combat boots for a living! But throughout this experiment, I wore them more than I ever have and I think my feet got used to them and I felt more comfortable walking in them. I know Steve will love that!

I know I posted about this in one of the blog entries and that is how we get stuck in a rut and wear the same ‘ol things. We get comfortable and lazy and wear the same clothes like every week instead of trying to be creative and give some of the clothes in our closet more “face time.”  With Steve objectively looking at my closet, he pulled out things that I don’t wear often and even paired some things together that I never considered and I loved it. I wore clothes that I forgot I had or clothes that I forgot actually looked nice and that now I will wear more often.  I’ve even noticed this in this visit with my mom. She has a TON of clothes, so much so that she was filling up every closet in the house! With their recent move, I think she realized the absurdity of it and donated more to Goodwill. Anyway, she still has a lot, yet every time I visit it seems as if she wears the same pieces over and over. So, ladies stop thinking something is “too fancy” for an ordinary day because I’m sure you spent a lot of money on some of those clothes and they deserve to be worn and you deserve to feel beautiful!! Besides, look at the reaction of my husband..when I feel better, he feels better and wants to be better.

Finally, I’ve learned to trust Steve more.  I trust him with so many other things already because I know he will always support me and take care of me.  But, I trust he will not steer me wrong and dress me in something ridiculous or that makes me feel bad. Even though I didn’t use any vetoes, there were days when it probably should’ve been a veto because I didn’t feel comfortable in something or it just didn’t look right and he changed it, but he never forced me to wear anything just because that’s what he picked out for the day. I trust his fashion sense more than mine, especially since I receive so many more compliments on things he’s picked out. It’s so bad that I can’t even shop for myself anymore because I wonder what Steve will think of it. Therefore, he will now dress me for the rest of my life! LOL!

Babe, this experiment was so fun! Thank you for wanting to do it. I know people think we’re crazy and have nothing else better to do than have you dress me like a Barbie, but let’s face it, we don’t…ha ha! Not many husbands would even take on such a challenge and I know I’m blessed to have someone who cares enough to take the time to invest in me. I love you so much and you make this thing called life fun and exciting!