Posts by mfuchs:
- Continuing to pay off student loan debt and getting to a certain amount before he returns
- Reading 1-2 books per month
- Taking 10 Krav Maga self-defense classes
- Blogging on my site 2-3 times per week
- Doing more runs and other physical challenges
- And the most exciting of all, planning our wedding!
No, I’m not jumping for joy that The Warrior is deploying – but I am ready to get it started.
Or am I?
Is it even possible to be “ready” for a deployment? To actually be “prepared” for a deployment? To feel that this process is “normal”?
This will be our second deployment, and although we are used to being in a long-distance relationship, being exactly 7,821.56 miles apart is kind of stretching it. (Yes, I Googled “Texas to Afghanistan” just now. And no pun intended!) Ever since The Warrior’s first deployment ended last year, I’ve been wondering what it would be like the second time around, if it ended up happening. Well, wonder no more, it’s happening!
The military wife statement deployments don’t get easier, they just become more familiar is definitely true. I know what kinds of emotions to expect in myself. I know how he will act leading up to deployment, especially on the day he leaves. I know the Army pre-D drill: training, SRP, getting your government-issue MultiCam, packing, see ya! This is becoming routine. We did this less than two years ago and I remember it clearly.
So if this isn’t easy, then how can I say that I’m ready to get started?
Because oftentimes waiting is the hardest part – or at least, one of the hardest parts. As hard as the goodbye is, you know that the sooner he leaves, the sooner you’ll see him again; the sooner you can get started on all the things you want to accomplish while he’s gone; the sooner you can get into the deployment rhythm, instead of merely anticipating it.
I was blessed to have him in town over Memorial Day weekend. It was such a wonderful, treasured time, but we also had some serious talks. At lunch on Memorial Day, after attending a service honoring our fallen heroes, The Warrior said to me, “There are two main reasons why soldiers want to return to combat: one, for the rush. Two, because life over there is what’s real. All this here” -he gestured around at the restaurant- “all this is just a social construct. You take away their access to food, their water, their comfort – and then what? People freak out.” He can’t wait to return “to where I belong,” he semi-joked the day he received TCS orders.
I’ve read books on combat and post-combat stress, so I was not surprised by his statements. I’ve done research and I will continue to educate myself so that I can be the best support possible for him. But I also want to take better care of myself during this deployment. During the last month of his first tour, I was so overworked, stressed out, and sleep-deprived that I fell prey to a bad case of the flu and felt emotionally empty. I just kept working my tail off till I literally dropped, and I succumbed countless times to what I call the Superwoman Syndrome. So one of my goals this time is to intentionally connect with two friends per month, whether in person or through technology. Spending quality time with others and building relationships is not a waste of time, and it’s something I’ve neglected in the past. My other goals include:
Deployment is tough, there’s no doubt about that. But it’s a time that both The Warrior and I can grow as individuals so that we can be stronger as a couple and we can finally be married when he returns. The future is bright, and this deployment is just part of the ride. I look forward to sharing more of my deployment thoughts here along the way!
I will unashamedly admit: I do not like running. Sometimes I even hate it: legs feeling tired, ankle hurting from pronation, stitch in my side. I would much rather be in the gym lifting weights or riding a bike outdoors. I am not a runner. And sometimes the thought of running a 10K (6.2 miles!!) scares me a bit.
But in April, I signed up to run a 10K on June 9th. I paid the fee, set up my fundraising page, and announced it on Facebook. I needed to have public accountability! But why did I sign up in the first place if I’m kind of turned off by running?
When I go on my training runs several times per week, I turn my mind to thoughts of our nation’s heroes, and in particular, our wounded warriors. Here I am, running on my own two legs, not injured, perfectly healthy…what is there to not love about that? Some of our soldiers we send overseas come back without their legs. Some of them come back without arms, never to touch their loved ones or lift weights with their own hands again. And still others – many others, more than we realize – come back with unseen wounds, those of PTSD and TBI.
If these guys and girls can volunteer to put themselves in harm’s way and come back with wounds that have forever changed their lives, I can do a measly little run. It’s for them, it’s in their honor, it’s so that they can get the help and support they need. This 10K will raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project and the Fisher House. On the front page of the WWP’s website, it says, “It’s not what you can’t do, it’s what you can do.” The WWP is all about helping our veterans heal from the physical and mental wounds of war. According to statistics on their website, over 50,000 have been wounded physically; 320,000 have suffered a TBI; and 400,000 suffer with PTSD. (The latter two are estimates.)
It’s easy to post our flag and slap a Support Our Troops magnet on our car and feel all fuzzy-patriotic inside. Even as military families we can be prone to this. When we have our soldiers safely home from war and things are going fine, it’s easy to forget of others who are suffering. But it’s important that we take time to consider the nitty-gritty details, to truly consider what others might be experiencing. We have to ask ourselves hard questions that are difficult to think about, and then determine what we are going to do to help.
For our troops!
Name: Malori Fuchs
How long have you been with your service member: 3 years – we met online in March 2010 and had our first date a few weeks later. We got engaged in December 2010 and plan on marrying in the spring of next year (2014)!
Your favorite duty station: My fiance is stationed at Ft. Hood, but I live in the Dallas area. What I’ve seen of the post/Killeen area is so-so, but I don’t have anything to truly compare it to. I’m looking forward to moving with him to Ft. Huachuca next year after we get married! I’ve heard great things about that area – I am especially looking forward to the mountains and getting away from all the Texas allergens…AND finally being married and eliminating the 3-hour gap between us! :)
What most inspires you: I love talking with seasoned military wives and retired veterans – they have SO much wisdom and are able to see the whole picture when I’m stuck in the moment.
If you could go back and tell your new-to-Army-life self any piece of advice, what would it be? I’d tell myself – and I keep telling myself, because I still am new – to be patient and just go with the flow. I am a detailed planner, and the hardest part about Army life is having plans be changed or delayed. But remember that life is an adventure and there is a silver lining to every cloud!
Share a favorite blog or website that inspires, helps or entertains you: My new favorite is www.JonAcuff.com. Jon is a motivational/career development speaker and author, and his books Quitter and Start, as well as his blog, have become instrumental in helping me work toward my dream of becoming a professional writer/author. His premise is how to make the transition from your “day job” to your “dream job,” which is quite relevant for mobile military wives. I highly recommend his work!
I also wanted to share that my favorite thing about the Army Wife Network is the weekly radio show! For my long commute to and from work each day, I will oftentimes download the podcasts to my phone and catch up on the many shows that happened before I ever discovered AWN. I have learned a lot and been very inspired by the topics and guests that Tara and Star host. Thank you so much for this resource!
Springtime – namely, March and April – are a couple of the most beautiful months in north Texas, but three years ago, I experienced just how amazing spring can be. Some people might think that love blooming in the springtime is just cliche or a fantasy, but for me it was truly real! Three years ago this spring is when I met my Warrior, and I wanted to share a summarized version of how this came about – after all, I think it’s a pretty good story! (Although perhaps I am biased. )
It all started on March 24, 2010. Exactly one month earlier, I had reactivated my profile on a dating website, thanks to a friend prompting me and some serious prayer on my part. I was at work (my first job after college) and it was a slow day in the office. During a break, suddenly I felt this prompting that said, Go to the site and do an online search – now. I had NEVER gotten that feeling before. In fact, I hadn’t been on the site for two weeks because I wanted guys to contact me. That was the chivalrous, gentlemanly way, right? But no, I had to do a search now. I entered my usual parameters and clicked “search.” I scrolled through the profile previews….page one, meh, the usual. Page two, yeah nothing special – wait.
This one man’s profile suddenly caught my eye. It’s not that his thumbnail picture was particularly stunning…frankly, it was not a very good picture at all. (Smiling but wearing sunglasses and too far away.) And his answers to the preview questions were nothing extraordinary, nothing too different than the other guys. But for some reason, I just had to click on his name to find out more.
I could say that I am a military officer, college graduate, champion athlete, martial artist, musician and overall awesome guy but that wouldn’t even begin to describe who I really am. That’s just describing what I have done in a big headed way.
His almost-but-not-quite egotistical humor made me smile, and the next sentences warmed my heart when he talked about his faith and how he wanted to find a woman who shared that. I kept reading (although quickly, while glancing over my shoulder to make sure no one came into the office!) and was blown away by everything he wrote about himself, his beliefs, and his accomplishments. I couldn’t spend any more time at work reading about him, though, so I saved him as a contact and resolved to spend more time on his profile that evening.
I read his profile through about three or four times…I just couldn’t get enough of this guy! But I knew I had to be the one to contact him. There was a good chance he would never even run across my profile. So I wrote a cheerful, one paragraph message to him, asking if he was interested in communicating. I sent the message at about 10:30 that night and then told myself, Now Malori, don’t get your hopes up. His profile is so amazing, wouldn’t every girl on here be interested in him? He’s probably already talking to another girl. Just be realistic and don’t expect much.
But in hindsight, I knew deep down that this was different than my other online contacts. He was someone special and set apart from the others. I just didn’t want to grab onto that feeling, lest I be terribly disappointed.
The next evening I got a text notification that he had replied to my message! I excitedly logged on and read his message….which said yes, he was very interested in communicating! I could hardly believe it. We sent many messages back and forth through the website during the next several weeks, and it was intriguing getting to know someone without even seeing him. I will admit, though, I wanted to make sure this dude was for real, so since he told me his last name, I looked him up on Facebook. His profile was mostly public, and everything on there jived with his dating site profile. The day after Easter, April 5, was the first time we spoke on the phone, and it was an almost 2-hour conversation! Then, on April 11, we met in person for the first time…and I had never felt so nervous as I was that afternoon! We met at the Olive Garden in my hometown, and I was flabbergasted by the fact that he was driving 3 hours from his post JUST to spend a few hours with me! He was taking a huge risk – what if his expectations fell short of who he thought I was? Or vice versa? I got to the restaurant early, for fear of arriving late and making a bad impression on this Army officer. I was also afraid I wouldn’t be able to eat…it’s like my stomach was in my throat. I sat on the couch in the lobby, waiting….and then I saw him walk through the door. It was an almost-cocky, military-guy stride – but with cheerful confidence as well. I got up and we walked over to each other, smiling. It was awkward for a couple seconds – a handshake? No, too formal. So we shared a quick hug before sitting down.
I was able to eat more easily than I’d thought, but I savored our conversation and being together in person more than the food. After lunch and being there a couple hours, he came over to the house and met my family – what a brave guy! I had made German chocolate cupcakes to share (his favorite dessert) and he told me, “This is the best German chocolate cake I’ve ever had!” He stayed until 10pm, later than I’d expected…and when saying goodbye he expressed interest in coming back. I felt truly blessed.
[1st photo together]
On April 13, 2012 (two days after the second anniversary of our first date), The Warrior returned from Afghanistan. Our faith and love had been tested, severely at times….but that homecoming day was one of the best days of our lives. As I waited, surrounded by military wives and families, I had the same type of nervousness as when we had first met. Would he like my new outfit? Would he find me pretty? What would we say to each other? Two years ago, I had sat on that couch in Olive Garden, waiting to get acquainted with this guy I had never met, nervousness in my stomach. On that April day in 2012, I sat on bleachers at an Army post, waiting to get reacquainted with this same guy who, in a way, I had never met before. A person is never the same after war.
When the white buses pulled up, the crowd erupted. I waved my flag with one hand and shakily alternated between taking pictures and video with the other. The soldiers unloaded and the only thing we could see were their combat boots. The DJ led us in screaming “Move that bus! Move that bus!!” And then they marched toward us as one. I scanned the crowd, looking for The Warrior’s dear face, straining to see him in the flesh once again. There he was, looking serious and then flashing his signature impish grin as the Colonel gave his 45 second speech. Then the DJ counted off, “Three, two, one, CHARGE!” and it was a mad rush to find our soldiers on the field. We had pre-planned to meet near the tent, but I was making a beeline for him. I came within touching distance of him and shouted his name, and he turned around, carrying his ruck sack and wearing his patrol cap. I barely gave him time to look at me before I enveloped him with my arms, squeezing tightly around his neck and putting my head between his head and right shoulder. He held me tightly and it was like we were the only two people in the world. I had my hero back and I never wanted to let go. Once again, I felt truly blessed.
“The way to gain a good reputation, is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”
It may only be March, but down here in Texas, spring is in full swing! Trees are budding, neighbors are planting flowers, and Easter is right around the corner! The last place I want to be is inside a windowless office, getting a sip of spring during lunch but then being driven back to my desk because of something called a paycheck. It’s also a perfect time to weed out the closet and shoe rack, clean the house, and spruce up the yard.
It is also a perfect time to re-examine where we are going for the year and who we want to be. While I have a grasp on my value system and know generally what I want, I have to constantly re-evaluate the finer points in life. What do I want my reputation to be? How do I actually become who I want seem like? This is not about superficiality. It’s about how I want to shape my heart, my attitude, and my being.
One thing I struggle with is comparing myself to others. Perhaps it’s because I have a competitive spirit, which could have partially been caused by growing up in a competitive music environment. If I can be honest, I like being awesome in whatever I’m doing! And if I look at someone else being better at whatever it is, I want to beat them at it – whether it’s fashion, blogging, public speaking, playing the violin, or paying off debt. I’m not cut-throat and mean to others – but I AM very hard on myself. The other day, I was complaining to The Warrior about how sometimes I don’t feel like I’m completely normal because I am 26 years old and still living with my parents and younger siblings. I look at other young women my age and see them having their own apartments (or even houses) and being responsible in that way, and I want that too! Doesn’t it make me look like a lazy bum to be still at home? Sometimes I am embarrassed to admit this fact to co-workers.
His first response was, “What is normal? Who defines it?” I responded with, “Well, society. Doesn’t it show a lack of emotional maturity to live at home when you’re almost 30 when that is not what everyone else is doing?” We then discussed why I’m doing what I’m doing: I graduated college with a massive amount of debt and I want to pay it off as quickly as possible, for the good of our future together, and now I have to throw wedding saving into the mix. I have made HUGE strides in my financial journey because of the opportunity I’ve had to live at home, and at this point it would be a waste to throw money at rent every month. It will only be about one year until The Warrior and I are married. I knew he was right, and I just needed a chance to vent my frustration of, in my mind, not living up to the standards of people my age…the frustration of feeling that my peers were somehow “better than” me.
But really, who is it that I desire to be? Do I want to be who I was meant to be, or like someone else who seems as if they have it better? I think specifically within the military life we tend to do this. We compare our situation to others’ often. The Warrior’s deployment to Afghanistan was “only” five months. What about those couples who endured a year deployment, or even a 15 month deployment – multiple times in their careers already! And they have kids to boot! Does that make them “better” than us or make their sacrifice more honorable? Were the struggles we experienced during deployment to be discounted because someone else had it harder?
It’s easy to fall into this trap of comparison. We all are competitive to some degree, and some of us have that trait stronger than others. (There I go comparing again! The key is keeping that competitive spirit at a healthy level, and The Warrior is very good at helping me with that. To solve the living at home “problem,” I needed to look at the situation in this way: my goal is to become debt-free as soon as possible. I started out with $140,000 in debt almost 4 years ago, and I am now halfway through paying it off. My other goal is to save for our wedding, because my parents won’t be able to fund the whole affair. Living at home has been a catalyst for making these things happen, and it is also my parents’ way of helping me out because they weren’t able to pay for my college education. We have a healthy relationship and I am getting quality time with my family before I have to follow wherever the military assigns The Warrior. So in the end, I am thankful for this unique opportunity, and because of it, we have a bright future ahead of us!