Being alone: to the new spouse awaiting the return from deployment

On any given deployment, there are so many things missed.  From holidays to birthdays, happy events to devastating – things. are. missed.

In the submarine world, we still don’t have all the communication outlets that most other deployed members have these days. Phone calls, chat programs, skype, facetime, hangouts, instant email communication and/or expected response times < we don’t have these.  I remember the days where snail mail sometimes seemed quicker than email communication with a sub, thankfully that isn’t always the case anymore – although I wouldn’t call our email system reliable or timely by any means; and the one way communication of Family Grams is now a thing of the past (I miss the comfort these somehow provided).

I have grown accustom to the lack of communication as the years have gone by, but for us it has been 10 years.

One thing you never really grow accustom to though, is being alone.  Sometimes you feel so alone during deployment when there is little or no communication.  Learning to be ok with being alone is a struggle at times and every deployment it is an adjustment that needs to be made – stepping back into the shoes of being alone; but somehow we always do it. Sometimes it is unconsciously.

Along with learning to be alone, comes learning to trust yourself, your decisions, your actions, your emotions – when alone.  Trusting that you will make all the sound choices for your family with little to no communication with your service member.  Sometimes this is even harder than learning to be alone.  Sometimes we are faced with decisions we never considered having to make alone, sometimes we are faced with decisions we are afraid to make alone. Whether simple or intricate, trusting that you will make the best decision for your family takes strength.

Being alone and trusting your self is hard to do.  It really is.

To the new spouse, I wanted to share this cartoon I came across – sometimes the hardest thing to face in this crazy military life is being alone and trusting your self.  You can do it, you have the strength, I believe in you – believe in yourself.

Michael Leunig

Michael Leunig ;

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Filed under ~Deployment~, ~Life and it's unexpectedness~

We are Ombudsmen, not Superheroes.

One of the many hats I wear, and an article I was requested to write…

Here at Naval Base Kitsap, our Ombudsmen find comradery, share challenges, and offer advice while networking with other Ombudsmen at our monthly chats.  One year ago, we started having monthly chats as a way to go the extra step (beyond our monthly assemblies) to insure our Ombudsmen felt supported while provide on-going mentoring.

As the Naval Base Kitsap Ombudsman Assembly Chair, I volunteer to host the Ombudsman Chats.  We currently have them at one of the dining facilities on base allowing the Ombudsmen to buy their own dinner or a snack during the chat; since we currently schedule the chats in the evening.  Unlike the structure of the monthly assembly our chats are child friendly, informal, and for Ombudsmen only.

We adhere to our code of ethics and confidentiality by not talking about specifics, but rather hypothetical situations, if the need arises.  Our goal is to acknowledge that being an Ombudsman isn’t always easy.  We are human and face our own personal challenges while also helping our families overcome theirs; it serves as a reminder that we are Ombudsmen, not superheroes, as we sometimes expect ourselves to be.  We talk about the real affects volunteering sometimes has on our personal life and the extra stress we sometimes face, while also sharing those ‘feel good’ moments that keep us moving forward and loving what we do.  While the chats are not structured and we have no agenda, we have covered topics such as:  various ways of setting up a phone tree, the best computer programs to help with our duties, ways to better communicate with our CSTs, marketing, preventing burn out, keeping calm when dealing with difficult situations, advanced training ideas, etc.  With all that said, I will admit, there are days where we just talk about the weather and our hobbies.  My rule of thumb is, as long as we don’t dwell on the negative or venture into the inappropriate, anything goes.

Participation varies.  Some months there are only 1-5 Ombudsmen attending, while other months we’ve had 10-12 in attendance.  Our chats usually only last an hour and a half, but it is not unusual to find ourselves being pushed out the door (figuratively), by the staff at closing time.

It is amazing the amount of support it has generated amongst the Naval Base Kitsap Ombudsmen.  Many of those who have attended have found friends in their fellow Ombudsmen, finding that they share many of the same interests and hobbies, creating deeper connections.  I think it has also had a positive effect in other aspects.  We seem to have better attendance in our advanced training opportunities and our after assembly workshops.  The interpersonal relationships seem to have provided an accountability of attendance among the Ombudsmen that attend the chats.  Lastly the chats have led to other positive activities. This fall the NBK Ombudsmen hosted our second completely FREE Dress exchange event for all military families in our community and the Formal Fashion Swap Committee is in the planning stages of a third one this winter!  We also have a planning committee for our annual Ombudsman Appreciation dinner, which assisted this past year in creating a fabulous event to be remembered.

No, we aren’t superheroes, but with the support of each other we sure can excel at our jobs as Ombudsmen!

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Filed under ~Life and it's unexpectedness~

My Love

133 is the amount of months I’ve known you.

132 is the amount of months I’ve Loved you.

121 is the amount of months you’ve been a dad, in every sense of the word to my son our son.

117 is the amount of months we’ve been married.

96 is the amount of months our daughter has been on this earth.

84 is the amount of months our youngest son has been on this earth.

42 … I find it serendipitous that the number is 42

42 is..

The number of months you’ve been away from me. (averaged of course)

The number of months I have slept alone.

The number of months our kids have missed you.

The number of months you have proudly served our country by patrolling our world’s oceans.

The number of months you have risked your life beneath the waves, in waters so deep you likely wouldn’t survive the swim from.

The number of months I haven’t heard your voice since I’ve loved you.

The number of months where my only communication was a shoddy email system, which lost a quarter of the emails sent, while the other three quarters were received out of sequence and in duplicate – as to make up for the lost ones, I guess.

The number of months spent missing birthdays, first steps, first words, holidays, and deaths.

The number of months that have made us stronger.


So as we face future patrols, underways, and deployments, I reflect on the 42 months we’ve already been through.

Like when:

…I told you I was pregnant the moment you stepped off the boat from a short underway.

…I packed the whole house during deployment while pregnant, just to break my water 3 days before we were due to leave the state for a PCS.

…I stood in that little shop in Plymouth England, 7 months pregnant, and I feared the worst as I stared at a newspaper in disbelief processing the story before my eyes. I don’t think I will ever forget the front page of that newspaper.

…The basement flooded, and then the septic flooded the basement, all the while the heat kept going out for days at a time… in the middle of winter; then packing the house to move.


We’ve dealt with so many issues during those 42 months, that I can’t even recall them all.

What I do remember is every single homecoming. I will gladly deal with any of those problems as long as I get to see you come back home. Even if it means standing in sideways rain that is coming down in waves because the wind is blowing so hard that our hats won’t even stay on, in the middle of winter, in the middle of the night.

Standing at the pier waiting for you to come home after each deployment, patrol, underway; whether it was 2 days at sea or 180, it has always been the same. That first sight of you gives me chills and our first eye contact brings tears to my eyes as I anticipate our first embrace.

And as if the world rights it’s self, all worries, cares, lost sleep, tears, frustrations and anger wash away as you take that first step onto the brow… you are home.


I realize that every night you spend under the sea, you tempt fate. So every day that you are home means that much more to me. I look forward to the next 133 months, patrols, deployments, underways, and all. As long as it means I get more time with you.

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Filed under ~Deployment~, ~Family~

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (for now at least)

So, I think it takes an over abundance of unfortunate events in order to enjoy the relief of something finally going right.

Granted we’ve had many things go right the past 7 weeks –
– Successful Appreciation Dinner ( after a few months of planning)
– Successful Dress Exchange (after months of planning)
– Ross was selected and finally pinned (after years of hoping for it to happen already)
– Family has visited twice during this time
– We have a new house (that we are currently moving into – and in turn out of the current one)

But it has all come with fighting tooth and nail and many long hours of work, and doubt that it would all actually come together in time. In fact, there are certain things that came about as a result of things not happening as planned – for example Jalapeño is no longer with us (An antique car I’ve owned for 9 years, for those who weren’t following that whole event) and many many other plans that fell through just before they were due to happen and even a few ER visits for my self (I must be getting old).

Alas, that is Navy life for you. Murphy you little trickster – you decided switch things up and pop up when Ross was home this time. The beginning of this year looked much different for us, heck back in June the rest of the year looked different.

Now we just have to finish up moving, now that most of this is going to be behind us.

I can tell you, through all of this, 2-3 weeks ago I had a breakdown of epic proportions and was ready to throw the towel in on everything and hide from life for a while.

We all have our stories, half of which most people don’t see or hear of. It is the support of friends and family that get you through it. Thank you guys for being supportive! And Thank you Navy for finally paying the Bonus we’ve been waiting on.

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Filed under ~Life and it's unexpectedness~


1-800-273-8255 > Suicide prevention lifeline.

We will never be able to talk enough about suicide, because believe it or not, there are people who talk about it who have been or are suicidal or have had suicidal thoughts.

We can call it a disease, a problem, an epidemic, what have you – but to the person who has those thoughts, it is usually a part of their every day thought pattern. It is so ingrained in their brains that, it isn’t odd to think about driving off the bridge, or jumping off a building when you’ve had enough. It becomes a resolution, not because it will solve the problem, but it simply allows you to quit. Those with suicidal thoughts, most likely can come up with a reason not to do it 100 times a day, they can give advice and help others through their issues and encourage them to choose to live, but all it takes is that one time where they are unable to find a reason where suicide isn’t the answer. It only takes one thought, at one moment, when the brain says – it is okay to commit suicide.

It’s not advertised. The person sitting next to you may occasionally have suicidal thoughts – even though they seem perfectly happy and are planning for the future. We spend so much time looking for the clues that we forget about the people; we forget it could be our child, our friend, our co-worker, our spouse. We may even laugh it off when it crosses our own minds, once in a blue moon.

Social media is awesome in most cases, it keeps us connected, it helps us network and share. Social media, however, does not encourage the personal one on one bonding that can really and truly help people. It doesn’t allow us to form a real, personal connection. We have started isolating our selves.

We need that personal connection, that friend that visits, that hug, eye contact, real human interaction. Laughing, crying, talking, embracing, listening, not judging, validating, accepting – in person – We need it, we crave it, even if we emotionally and mentally tell our selves we don’t. We do, without that connection we become lost.

When we are lost, we often have a hard time finding reasons to live.

You can help by enriching your personal connection with others.

Be a friend.

I just read this post on upworthy, and watched a video that I vaguely remember seeing before of a skit done by Robin Williams, check it out and read the article.

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Filed under ~Life and it's unexpectedness~

This is it.

This is it.
This moment.
This is your one wild and precious life, here and now.
-Love Melli

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June 3, 2014 · 6:40 PM

We only live once (right?)

The realization
That life is only lived once
And we must make the best of what we have
Only compounds as you age

I am torn 
I want my children to have everything
and nothing 
all at once

Learning that things are earned 
hard work is required
expectations are set high
Life is not easy


I want to buy all the fun things too
boats and gear for all hobbies
Play stations and iPads
snow suits and jet skis

I want them to see
that we have hobbies
can still have fun
while being adults too

Our life is this juggling act 
wants vs. needs
but then I remember 
we only live once. 

I want my children to always remember
we only live once. 

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Filed under ~Life and it's unexpectedness~