Expiration Dates

Hunger. It hits, and it hits hard. It taunts you as if food were just an idea you thought about when feeling particularly adventurous. Without warning the demanding organ is turning, aching, questioning you as to why you would be so negligent. Obediently, you open the fridge, you see nothing but expiration dates; reminders that everything before you is temporary.

This is the only appropriate imagery I can use to conjure my current perspective on life.

Everything is temporary, nothing but uncertainty is certain, there is an expiration date for everyone and everything around me. There is an aching desire to quench a need for permanence and consistency.

Perhaps the reason I have felt particularly comfortable seated on an airplane lately is that it’s the only time I have control of when everything is up in the air.

Let me be less obtuse: Andrew and I have no idea where we will be living in 2 months, (San Diego, Japan, Hawaii, Guam, Jacksonville, Norfolk). I am quitting the most amazing job I have ever had in February with no promise of another chance in this industry. We will need to find a new place to live, a new church, new friends, and new bars.

To a planner like myself, this is just a nightmare. When Andrew is given his written orders, we will have 3 weeks or less to find a place to live and begin to replant our roots.

I get so stressed out about all of this, it really scares me so much.

What I forget much too easily is that my trust and faith in God are essential here. Admittedly, I am struggling to make it a priority. I believe there is a plan for my life; that ultimately it is good, but for some reason I have trouble letting that be enough to sustain my ever racing heart and mind.

“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered ” Proverbs 28:26

Nothing like reading through the book of Proverbs to make yourself humble. Ugh I’m a fool and I know it. At least I recognize it, I hear that’s the first step!

Well, here’s to trying to let go, and let God. Let’s see how this goes.

Oh, and God if you’re listening, PLEASE SAN DIEGO. And maybe a house in North Park, and a job in spinal device sales, and…okay I’ll stop now.

IMG_1882.JPG

Advertisements

Better get Better.

I’ve been traveling a lot lately. It’s a few hours upstate, it’s contiguously far East, or it’s back on the West side. As long as it’s anywhere but my “home for now”.
It’s been an amazing experience, and for it I’m incredibly thankful.

However, I’d be lying if I said it was all for fun.

I haven’t been traveling to get away from Corpus Christi; I’ve been traveling to get away from myself, and up until last weekend it had been working really well.

To say I wasn’t prepared for what I’d learn when I stayed home would have been the understatement of the century; everything I’ve put off in my mind, every anxious thought, every fear, every insecurity would catch up with me all at once. In the way you’d imagine a freight train embracing an obstruction in it’s tracks, that was my mind.

It only takes a moment in the quiet and BOOM.
I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of insurmountable uncertainty. I’m nervous that this whole Navy thing isn’t going to get any better. So far it hasn’t been the best. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the healthcare, the discounts, and benefits, but that’s about it. It’s been second choices, compromise, and disappointment. It’s been good people but they leave, and move on. It’s been bad people too, but they don’t seem to go anywhere.  I love Andrew, more than I can accurately articulate, but that doesn’t mean I love what being married to a military man means.

Andrew used to feel undeserving when people thanked him for his service. I have to admit, I felt the same way when they thanked me too. We would laugh sometimes, and wonder what we had done to really be thanked for. He hadn’t been deployed overseas, or in danger, so what were they thanking him for? I wasn’t the service member, what were they thanking ME for? I’ve recently realized something. Not that we deserve the gratitude, but that we can accept it.  Sure, neither of us have done any of the latter that might traditionally merit a thank you, but we’ve put up with a lot. For him: crazy early mornings, disorganization, no say in aircraft, place to live, or their latest, time with family. For me: struggle with career choices, long distance, lack of purpose, and no say in where I call home.

It’s been one thing after another from the beginning, but lately it’s been completely discouraging for both of us.

If you’re a praying person, they would be wholeheartedly welcomed.

I made a huge mistake when I got engaged.

Let me explain.

Shortly after Andrew and I graduated from ASU, he was commissioned as a naval officer, and given orders to report to flight school which was located in Pensacola Florida. Since we were neither engaged, nor married, I remained in Arizona to continue working, and plan the next phase of my life out. I had read and heard too many stories about girls moving across the country to go live with or near their boyfriends; the majority of them ending badly. I decided to forgo the possibility of heartbreak from moving to Florida by staying in Arizona, and instead endured a different heartbreak: missing him like crazy.
After 3 months, Andrew bought me a plane ticket to Florida to spend 4th of July weekend with him, since it would probably be the only break he had that entire summer.

I was shaking when I got off the plane, and our first hug was like nothing else. It was weird being next to him again, as I had really forgotten what it was like. You almost have to get used to the idea of being someone’s girlfriend again, after only Face-Timing and texting for so long. When you spend every day with someone for almost 2 years, and then suddenly they’re on the opposite side of the country, 3 months seems like FOREVER.

Andrew told me that he needed to go straight to his friend Drew’s house so he could study. I didn’t care at all. I was happy just to be in the same state as he.

We saw a lot of traffic coming on, so he told me we would cut through base to avoid it. I knew nothing about the area, so I of course agreed to the plan.

We drove through NAS Pensacola and he called Drew. Drew said he was out getting some pizza for dinner and told Andrew he wouldn’t be home for about an hour. Since we didn’t have keys to his house, Andrew suggested we go hang out at the beach to kill some time.

We got down to the beach, and I realized it was the first and only beach Andrew and I went to when we first drove him down to Florida to be moved in. It was gorgeous out. The sun was beginning to nestle into position to go to sleep, the lighthouse down the way was turning into a silhouette set in front of a captivating orange sky.

We started to walk down the beach, and I saw a rose sticking out of the sand. I was about to walk by it when Andrew suggested I pick it up. Attached was a note card with some of Andrew’s sweet words. We continued to walk down the beach where I saw 11 more roses zigzagged down the beach, each one with a sweeter note than the last. When I got the 11th rose, the card said, “I am so proud of you, honored to know you and would like for you to not only be my best friend but…” My heart was pounding. My suspicions that this was going to end with Andrew kneeling were becoming more and more feasible. I walked up the 12th and final rose, “My WIFE! So Brookie, will you marry me?” I swiveled around to see Andrew smiling, on one knee, with a boxed ring in his hand. I didn’t answer, I just jumped into his arms smiling, overwhelmed, and relieved.

“I didn’t hear you say yes!”

“Yes, of course babe!”

Andrew had employed a friend of his to walk down the beach with us and take our pictures while the whole thing was taking place. It was awesome, and everything a girl could dream of.

Then I made a HUGE mistake.

Not even 20 minutes after the biggest moment in my life thus far, I invited the entire world into what was supposed to be a private, and intimate moment shared between two people.

Up on Facebook and Instagram it went; the picture that I believed best encompassed what had just happened.

Immediately my phone was full of notifications, comments, and congratulations. I got texts, and phone calls, and voicemails and emails and it was all very exciting.

But it was a really, really bad decision on my part.

I took a moment that should have been processed, enjoyed, and quietly spent with the man who had just asked me to share in his life for the duration of it, and I opened up the floodgates to the world instead.

Rookie 21 year old mistake.

To my friends who want to get married some day, or who will be soon engaged, I implore you to listen to this. Sharing your engagement on social media is actually a really fun and cool thing, but in good time. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t have shared that moment with anyone until Andrew and I had the time to really enjoy it with each other. IMG_2638.JPG

I’m jealous.

I’ll admit it, I’m extremely jealous, but not in the traditional way. This has nothing to do with a lack of trust, insecurity, or anxiety. I’m jealous that the majority of my friends will never have to say goodbye to their spouses for more than a weekend. I’m jealous that their husbands aren’t property of the US government. I’m jealous that for the first 10 years of my marriage, Andrew and I will have little to no control of where we live, or for how long. I’m jealous that even though I “did things the right way” I will spend many nights alone in my bed, and most likely as a single mom for 6-8 months at a time during deployments. I’m jealous about all of that.

Truth be told, I don’t have anything
positive to say about all of this right now. I’m trying to be strong, and I’m trying to be positive, but right now I can’t be, and I think that’s okay. I’m not going to negate these feelings because they’re not chipper, positive and optimistic. I feel like this, and that’s alright. I won’t apologize for it.

I have the most amazing love I could ask for, and I can’t even reach out and touch it right now. But who’s fault is that? Mine. Andrew and I made the decision for me to stay in Texas together, but I feel so guilty about it. This balancing act to pursue my dreams and be with the man of my dreams is heart wrenching, confusing, and has no clear point of defined fruition. There are days I wish I could be satisfied sitting at home, cleaning, preparing dinner, and taking care of the kids. But I just can’t. That’s not who I am and it’s not fulfilling to me. At least, not at this point in my life right now.

This Navy life is a tough life, and this isn’t going to be easy. It asks for much, returns some, and promises uncertainty. Much of my youth and my early marriage will be spent counting the days before I see Andrew again, yearning to see the man I promised my life to.

I feel like I’m being pulled in a thousand different directions. My heart is in one place, my mind in another. I’m increasingly unaware of whether or not I’ve done the right or wrong thing staying here, as I’m simply too fixated on wishing time will pass.

Time to pray. – Time, please fly by the way you did during summer vacation during my adolescence. If you pass like that, February will come faster than a jackrabbit leaping across a field in Texas. (<–Get me out of here!)IMG_2511.JPG

A mediocre whirlwind

As Andrew and I come to the fruition of our first year of marriage, the word “whirlwind” comes to mind. Everything about us and this first year has been a whirlwind of change, discovery, love and confusion. With touches of stress and joy and everything in between.

Conveniently, the name of the street of our first house was whirlwind, and it couldn’t have possibly been better planned.
With our anniversary tomorrow, it got me thinking about what 366 days ago looked like. Everything went as planned, the guests had a great time (at least I hope) and I married an amazing man. But looking back, our wedding day was the most mediocre day of our marriage. Just stick with me here. Yes, that was easily one of the best, most fun days of my life and there’s no arguing that!
However, if it were the best day of my marriage, then: “Houston we have a problem”! (I’m currently flying over Houston so the phrase makes sense to me right now haha) Let me explain. Andrew and I have grown so much as individuals and in our marriage that where we were as a wedded couple on our big day just seems lame! Your wedding day, ideally needs to be the best day of your life but the worst day of your marriage. If your wedding day is the best part of your marriage, looks like it’s only going downhill from there. See, I’m not crazy, it makes sense now, doesn’t it?
I hope that when we look back another year from tomorrow we think that where we were a year ago was mediocre! The plan is to keep getting better and better at this whole marriage thing, and to make every year prior pail in comparison to the present.

Right now I’m on a Southwest jet to Pensacola to celebrate another year of whirlwind proportions. See you soon sweetheart.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

10/04 over and out.
IMG_2447.JPG

Gandhi says I suck.

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

As a Christian, this makes me feel two ways:

1. Well, we aren’t Jesus Christ himself, so we can’t possibly be perfect!
&
2. Shoot. That’s extremely true.

We do suck. I suck, and I’m sorry. 

I’m sorry that when I wear a cross around my neck, some might see it as a symbol of hate, and not love. I’m sorry that when you hear I’m a Christian you might automatically think I hate gays, atheists, and anyone who doesn’t think just like me. I’m sorry that I’ve probably done many things in my life to make you think that this would be true of me, and other Christians around me.

It’s become overwhelmingly apparent, especially lately, that people don’t like being judged, looked down upon, or told what to do. This has of course been true since the dawn of time, but admittedly it’s been more publicized now, than ever.  At the same time, as the world becomes more and more evolved and progressive, Christians are seeing the need to get more and more belligerent about the way we approach people. Standing on college campuses yelling about those who will be damned to hell, picketing weddings, fighting over social media, you name it, it’s happening. I almost feel like I have to give a disclaimer that I don’t hate everyone when I first meet people and they become aware of my faith.

“Hi I’m Brooke, I’m a Christian but I promise I don’t hate you.”

It is absolutely ridiculous that things are getting to that point.

There was about a year in college when I thought that I was responsible for the salvation of all the people in my life. It was an extremely, extremely stressful time. My relationships became inauthentic, my interactions almost always had an agenda, and I didn’t feel good about myself. AT ALL.

As I have grown and matured in my faith and adulthood, I have been free’d of that way of thinking. Thank you God!

It is not my responsibility to judge you, speak of the possibility of you being cast into a lake of fire, or come down on you for the way you are living your life. That’s NOT MY JOB. I didn’t apply for that, I did not accept an offer, negotiate, or sign a contract to do that: so no thanks. That being said, if you ask me to tell you how I feel about something, I’ll give you my honest opinion, but it will  need to be solicited.

It is however, my job to show you love, and if you give me a chance I’ll try my best. But like Gandhi said, I might still suck at it. (Sorry in advance).

Sadly enough I think some of the most condemning, unloving and judgmental Christians are those who have guilt, or unfinished healing in certain areas. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to make a certain sin, or group a scapegoat instead of facing your own shortcomings.

“Well yeah, I was unfaithful to my wife, but at LEAST I’m NOT GAY!”

Hey Christians, can we please stop condemning people? Show me where it says we are supposed to judge and not be kind? Show me where it says that we are supposed to hate and not show grace? You aren’t going to find it.
How about showing some love? No, don’t point it out in the bible, don’t tell anyone, but SHOW IT. Go let the world experience how a Christ follower is.

Reverse Resolutions

I have almost survived this whole “eating clean” thing for a week. If I can make it past tomorrow with no discrepancies, I’ll only have one more lifetime to go! Ugh. This is going to be rough.

It sucks being here deep in the heart of Texas without Andrew. But I’ve already gone over that. I strongly considered moping about it, and then I did. Oh how I did I mope! This girl was blissfully pathetic at the beginning of this all, admittedly. I mean, I finished both seasons of Orange Is The New Black in two weeks, I avoided any evening social conquest other than frozen yogurt, and I gained a nice comfy 10lbs from emotional overeating, As much as I can justify that it’s now fall, and I’m just like a bear settling in for the winter, I simply can’t. I don’t exactly need any extra warmth. It’s a blistering 95-100 degrees here on a consistent basis, and don’t forget the humidity. Who am I kidding, you CAN’T forget humidity, it’s like a cockroach. You never think about it until all the sudden it’s there and it’s changed your whole world; you can’t kill it, you just have to hope at some point it goes away.

Now 3 months later, I have improved. Even if it’s just minor, it’s still progression. I’ve limited myself to football and the occasional How I Met Your Mother, and I’m actually leaving the house for more reasons than work and the grocery store. However, the nutrition part of my life has been seriously lagging. SERIOUSLY.

Last week I decided I’m going to do something different.
REVERSE RESOLUTION.
Okay, so it’s just me but I think this is totally brilliant, (maybe another resolution will be to not be so full of myself, ha!).
Instead of gaining a bunch more weight during the holidays and absolutely hating myself to the point of creating a list of ridiculous and nearly impossible life changing commitments on January 1st, why not do something different? Like instead look and feel my BEST and be where I’d like to be BY January 1st. This is going to truly give me the chance to have a brand new and fresh start to the year! TOO MANY CAPITAL WORDS BUT I DONT CARE I’M EXCITED ABOUT THIS.
My process?
I joined a new gym and going 5 days/week, I’m eating clean, and I intend to spend some funds on new workout gear. (If I’m going to do this, I at least want get some cute workout clothes out of it).

Also, I thought about posting before pics, but there’s no way I’m doing that until I’ve shown some serious progression in the right direction. But, someday, I might! Who knows.

Oh, and hi Andrew. I love you and I can’t wait to celebrate a year with you next month!

10-4 over and out.

A Touch of Pathetic Fallacy

Arizona and rain are not usually typically spoken of in conjunction with one another. All the reason why the rain was all that more metaphorically and spiritually pervasive on this trip.

Andrew and I met in the Houston airport where we both had layovers. We were lucky enough to get the same flight to Phoenix and had our first experience on an airplane together. (Crazy right? We have been to Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, California, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and Florida together; not a single one of those trips was made by plane). Having traveled so much in the air alone,especially lately, it was great to be sitting next to Andrew. I however, made a fatal mistake when I sat at the window seat. I was begrudgingly subjected to Andrew’s constantly moving head and hands observing the world at thirty nine thousand feet. Now as I’m sitting alone on my return flight to Houston, I would give anything to have him bugging me.

The main purpose of this trip was to see Andrew’s cousin Stephanie exchange vows at the Grand Canyon; Shoshone Point to be exact.

Friday night was spent in Flagstaff breaking bread with family, pouring libations, and two stepping at the Lumberyard.

I simply cannot articulate how lucky I am to have found such an amazing man, with such an amazing family. They made me one of their own almost immediately, and for that I am incredibly thankful.

Saturday, wedding day! We made our way up to the Grand Canyon and checked into our room at the Maswick Lodge. It was such a beautiful day for a wedding…and then all the sudden, it wasn’t.

Rain. And lots of it.

We drove to Shoshone point, hoping the rain would let up.
It didn’t.

As we shuttled to the point, Andrew’s Aunt Bev turned around and said to us, “This is great!”

To our surprise she wasn’t being sarcastic. In my somewhat limited experience with weddings, when speaking of rain at an outdoor ceremony, precipitation is usually greeted with animosity and anxiety, seldom praised.

She then continued, “This is great, God is just showing us that he’s in control, and that he’s going to take care of us. Then right at the right time he is going to send us blue skies to remind us he loves us and that we’re important”.

In her voice there was no wavering. This was fact. She knew that it would happen that way.

Admittedly, I had my doubts.

I doubted until I saw her spoken fact come to fruition in the form of a rainbow stretching from the bottom of the canyon out past the collected worries and questions of a dry exchange of rings.

The rain stopped exactly at the five o’clock scheduled ceremony time. Towels dried the seats, guests found their places, and blue skies opened up like it was the first time they ever had.
The bride found her groom, the sun found our faces, and we all further found the glory of God in his beautiful creation, and perfect timing.

The rain had yet another lesson for me this morning. One of the largest monsoons Arizona has seen in the past decade hit, and hit hard late last night. Andrew and I were woken up multiple times to the tune of the emergency flash flood warnings and advisories. After we woke up to the only alarm we had intended to, we got in our rental, left the house in North Scottsdale at 5:30 AM, returned our car and made our way through security.

We walked up to my gate, and they were already boarding. With tears in my eyes, and a brief goodbye, I boarded a different plane, set to take me to a different airport, to eventually return to a different home.

Sometimes it really sucks. My heart longs to not have to explain to our friends and family that we live in different states. My body yearns to be held by the man I promised my life to. I know we are both doing what we think have to do right now for a bright future, but when you look back from that walkway as you’re boarding just to get a glimpse of your husband for the last time in a little while, it weighs heavily on your spirit.

The rain taught me that the weather on the surface is so arbitrary. You have to push through the storm and continue upward to get to the blue skies. Because eventually, you’ll be on top of the clouds looking down on a storm that once captivated you.

2 months down, 6 to go. The blue skies are in February. We can do this.

8 ways to make sure you have a perfect marriage.

Listen up! These 8 tips will ensure that you have a stress-free, perfect, happy marriage. 

 

1. Always make sure to….STOP TAKING ADVICE FROM LISTS ONLINE.

 

What is the obsession with these “How To” posts? Holy smokes! Do you really think that reading through an article for 5 minutes is going to tell you how to have the perfect marriage/relationship/friendship/job/life? While I cannot argue that there’s a touch of good advice in there, it’s not going to do what it promises it will. 

It’s frustrating. 

Just last week I fell into the “list” trap, and read an article titled, “How you know the guy you’re dating is the guy you need to marry”. Just like anyone would, I read and compared, read and compared. Awesome! Andrew does that, oh and he does that too! Okay, we are looking good!

Oh shoot, Andrew doesn’t do that.

…Does that mean he wasn’t the right guy to marry?

Yeah, because basing my life decisions on a list that someone typed up is a great idea, right? Wrong!

I can tell you why they’re so popular. Fear. Nobody tells you what you’re supposed to do when you get into a relationship. There’s no instructions, there’s no list of rules, there’s no way to ensure you don’t end up another sad statistic.

The divorce rate in America is over 50%. Don’t you think that if it were as simple as reading a list to have a great union, that percentage would be astronomically smaller?
Instead of looking to the internet to give us a cookie cutter layout of how to be the perfect spouse, or friend, or partner, why don’t we instead look to people we are seeing do it in REAL LIFE.  

Andrew and I have both been extremely fortunate to have been able to have friendships with, and be mentored by people who have been married and have tremendous wisdom in that area. Real people, not internet lists. It’s been crucial for us, and we’ve learned a lot in the last (almost) year.

However, that does not mean we have the “perfect” marriage, and I am so, so, glad that we don’t. I can’t imagine such a lack of passion that would illicit no bumps in the road. 

We fight, we say things we don’t mean, and we feel hopeless sometimes.
BUT, we also feel joy like we never knew we could experience, comfort in the deepest way possible, and love we never thought we would.

I’m so thankful that our marriage is what it is; totally and completely OURS.

I have a heart condition.

If home is where your heart is, then somebody call a cardiologist. This heart of mine is all over the place. Florida, California, Arizona, heck maybe a little in Texas too. I’ve got friends and family strung all across the good ole USA.

You know, the heart is arguably the most important of all the body’s organs, and it was about time I gave mine a check up.

I had called Andrew a few weeks ago, pretty upset, wondering if we had made the wrong decision. I asked him to pray for us, (which he did) that we would see a sign indicating whether or not we had made the right choice to do this whole long distance marriage thing.

The next day, my boss called me into his office.

As a child who was never sent to the principals office, I suffer from something I like to call “never sent to the principals office syndrome”.. (creative, I know). That is, every time an authority figure calls me into their office, or asks me to step aside with them, I immediately think I’ve done something wrong.

This case was no different. Joey asked me to sit down, he then pulled out a packet of paper.

              -“What’s this?”

Breathe Brooke, breathe.
I’m running through scenarios in my head trying to figure out if I’ve slacked off in some area, or I’ve done something wrong. Nothing is coming to mind. Okay, out with it boss man before I get much more cerebral..

             -“Well Brooke, you’re getting a huge raise, congratulations! I’ll just need you to look over your new compensation plan, sign, and you’re good to go!”

Needless to say, that was our sign.

Okay, now I’ve got some clarity, but that doesn’t help this heart condition I have.

So, Andrew and I made this plan to drive to Lake Charles, Louisiana for the weekend. 6.5 hours per person (ew I hate driving). However after looking into it a little more, he realized driving all that way would put him out of “the range”(which stops in NOLA) to leave his duty station without asking for leave (which is just about as easy to get approved as it would be to herd cats), so it was going to be a risky, stressful adventure, at best.

It got me thinking. If we’re going to see each other for the first time in 6 weeks, I don’t want it to be after a long drive, with stress hanging above our heads like a cumulonimbus. You know what? Life is too short. The saying, however cliche has stood the test of time. For good reason, It’s true. And it’s truer yet when you’ve been missing the one you love like crazy.

After a couple phone calls, a dash of data usage, some grouponing and A LOT of impulsivity I had a confirmation number for both a Southwest flight and a room at the Omni Royal New Orleans hotel.

Naturally I called my mother to make sure I wasn’t crazy. I was pleasantly given anything but reprimand and was told to have a great time.

After my verbal thumbs up, I avoided my bank account and my sense of practicality and boarded my flight for New Orleans, Louisiana.

It’s so weird, but I get SO nervous about seeing Andrew when it’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. Is he going to think I look pretty? Will he notice that I begrudgingly lost 3 lbs? Is it going to be the same like it always was?

I was shaking when I saw his truck stuck in the molasses of traffic outside the arrival gates. I ran into the street, practically shrieking and jumped high enough to kiss him through his window.

What a weekend, it was everything and anything I could have asked for it to be.

No, I didn’t fall in love with Andrew all over again, because I never stopped being love with him. It is so amazing to be reminded that you were made for somebody, and they for you. Being married to your best friend is amazing. I highly recommend it. 

The woman checking my ticket on the way to New Orleans asked me if I was headed home. I almost said no, until I realized who I was going to see. I was going home, I was going where my heart is.