Monday, December 31, 2012

A look back and a look forward

I sit here thinking back on 2012, just as most people are today. Where have we been and just look how far we've come has been the biggest things on my mind. Leaving the military life was oh so bittersweet. And it's definitely been a change. It's weird because I've been the civilian. I've lived in the regular world. But just the past six years have changed so much in my life. How I see things. And the way I live my life. 2012 has been a journey that's for sure. We went through good times, bad times, happy times, and rough times. Just as most everyone else in the world would go through in a 12 month period. And even now, being where we are, it's still somewhat surreal on certain days. It's hard to believe we're back home. It's hard to believe we have family just down the street that we can visit anytime we want. We don't take those things for granted. We've learned to appreciate the small things.
Having a home and plans for the future. A steady job/income. Our health may not be perfect but at least we're able to have doctors and support.
I'm so thankful for where we are today. Even if the road was challenging.

Looking forward to the future and the upcoming year, there's things I want to do, need to do. I want the stability of being home and not having to worry about my husband being in a foreign country. And we'll get that. It's an achievable goal. I want my family to be happy and healthy.

People always want "better". And life is not excluded in that description. But you have to make it better. It's not going to be handed out.

So, for 2013, I think I need to redirect my focus again. It's not all about the army, or my husband's career. It's about our family. It's about how each of us as individuals come together to make the whole. And we each have a chapter to input to the story.
I'm ready for the new year. This is gonna be the best part of our story yet. We're gonna make it that way!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I am so honored!!!

A few months ago, a dear friend of mine asked me to write a blog to appear on her website. The amazing Her War Her Voice group that I have come to hold dear to my heart, including the ladies that participate. blog post was published on their webpage.

Can I just say I am so honored to have been asked.

Here's the link to what I wrote....

How Did I Get Here?

I look forward to writing more posts for the website and hopefully something I say will connect and make a difference for someone!! Because there have been so many things associated with this group that have touched my life and have made such an impact. I can only hope I can do the same.

Love you bunches Melissa & Christina and I LOVE YOU both for everything you are and everything you do!!!

My mentors, my Warrior Sisters!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Where has the time gone??

It seems just yesterday that we left Kansas and moved back home. We've gone through some challenges and struggles, but we are finally getting settled. We've closed on our home. I have a job. Life is becoming routine. Psh yeah right. Life is never routine around here. At least we try to have a routine.
I still have those moments that it all feels very surreal. Like we're really not here to live. Maybe just to visit. Even being in our home, it's home...but it's not quite reached the "home" feeling.

I still haven't even seen all of my family since we've been back. It's Thanksgiving this week though. I'm happy to say that I am taking over the holiday preparations again. It was always my holiday to host. When I moved away, I would occasionally host holidays at our house where ever we were. But this time, I'm back home and excited to squeeze the 29 - 30ish people into our small cozy house and pull out all my hostess tricks. It's what I love to do. So, we're gonna do it right. Not to mention, I have so many other things going on this week as well. In my true fashion, I'll be cleaning, and cooking, hosting, and taking care of appts, phone calls, and everything else that goes along with our crazy life now.

We were recently found eligible for the Caregiver program through the V.A. I'm still waiting on my training sessions to come through on email so I can do that and test. Then we'll have a home study (yet another reason to I needed a reason).
Hubby is still finding his balance now that he's no longer active duty military. I think he struggles some days. And the fact that his meds are being changed up have not helped at all. I've seen him sleep for 3 days straight to going days without sleep. I knew it was going to take adjusting when we got here. But I didn't realize it would be like this. My instincts want to take away all his pain and insecurities and struggles. But I've learned that I can't. This is something he has to deal with himself. But I'm trying the best I can to create a stable environment for him so he can have the security and comfort to make the adjustments he needs.
What else can I do? I'm here and I'm not leaving. So, I just do the best I can with what we've got.

I am feeling more creative lately. I've been trying to tap into that side of me since I've been home. Thinking about how I want things at home. How we can remodel the house. How I want to decorate. Maybe that's the therapy I need right now. I'm making this place ours. We've been gradually doing a few things here and there. Just gotta remind hubby that I know he wants things "adult size" but he's gotta remember when he hangs the mirror over the bathroom sink that I can't see in it if it's adult size. hahaha

Anywho...I'm off to do some laundry and get some things done. Plus it's waffle day. Time to make some waffles. ;)

later y'all!!!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I once was lost...Now I am found...

Oh sheesh...where should I start?? I'm so far behind on my blogging. recap.... We have moved away from Kansas. We're in Tennessee. We still have no home. We are hanging in there, living with family and friends helping us out.
I'm still looking for a job. Hubby is officially retired from the military now. And we're still waiting on retirement and/or VA benefits to kick in.
We're still in Transition.

Before we left Kansas, I entered my biography to a group to attend a retreat for spouses/caregivers for wounded warriors. I was chosen to go!! So, this past weekend, I went to Nashville for four days. Everyone assumed I would be pampered and get to sleep all day and do all these wonderful things. And, I did. But not like they had imagined. We were pampered! That's for sure! We were given love and understanding...unconditionally. We were given wonderful things! We were taught how to see life situations in a more healthy way. We were given tools to help us live our life to the best of our ability. The only thing we were lacking this weekend was sleep. HAHAHA And that was by our own choice I think.

I could go through and tell you each and every detail of all the things we did this past weekend. But, I'm not. We had amazing dinners, we worked with horses, we met wonderful people, we went to the Grand Ole Opry.
All of these things are all amazing! But the purpose of the weekend and the most important thing was what we got out of it.

Here's what I got out of the weekend....
I was given a chance to release everything toxic inside my soul.
I was given a shoulder to cry on.
I was reminded that I have a voice.
I learned how to use my voice again.
I learned that I can control myself, but not those around me or my environment.
It's all about how I respond to my environment.
It is okay for me to do things for myself. It's actually encouraged and required.

The biggest epiphany I had all weekend:
The past five years that I believed I had little to no power because I was married. I wasn't a powerful single mother anymore. I always believed that my power had been taken away. When in all actuality, it wasn't taken away. I GAVE IT AWAY!! I gave it away without even knowing it. And it's never been kept from me. It has been offered back to me on more occasions than I even know. All I have to do is know it's there and feel the power that I DO HAVE!
Can you imagine how amazing that felt for me?? I have regained what I thought I had lost. Well, not regained so much as reaffirmed what has been there the whole time that I psychologically had myself convinced was not.

I went into the weekend thinking there would be this amazing opening of the Heavens with angels singing down on me. This of course did not happen. I had several "ah-ha" moments and realizations about things. And I know this is a process.
Just like we were taught this weekend... The goal to life is the process.

amen to that!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


When going through the medboard process, how do you know what expectations to have? I feel like we've prematurely expected everything to be done by now. We've packed our home. We've painted. We've cleaned. We've done our housing pre-inspection. I've withdrawn my daughter from school. The people who know things first told us a couple of weeks until we would have orders in hand. Now, we're hearing 2 to 3 months. I don't even know how to process this at the moment. I'm having so many different emotions. Do I leave my husband here to wait out the final processing? Do I stay, which would involve re-enrolling my daughter in school here? If I leave, how would we afford for me to come back to help with the move? How are we going to afford for me to even leave right now in order to get home and find a place to live and get her enrolled in school there? How am I going to even get a place to live there with no extra money and BAH still going towards the house here which has our entire life packed in boxes?

I'm angry. I'm frustrated. I'm sad. I'm annoyed. I'm confused. Could this have been prevented if we had just sat back and waited until the last minute when we had orders in hand to start the clearing process? Should we have kept on living day to day like we would always be here? I don't even know about any of it right now.

I can't talk about it with my husband because I'm still processing emotions. And as we know, he doesn't do emotions. I've cried out of frustration already this morning and walked away so he wouldn't see. Crying being one of his triggers, I couldn't chance that the situation would become worse because I can't keep my emotions in anymore.

I know with the military you don't expect anything when they say it's supposed to happen. And true to past experiences, I've learned once again that they have us no matter what. It all comes down to slow processing time and being overwhelmed with paperwork, on our part and the military's.

What do I do now? I feel myself spiralling into a place in my mind that I don't deal with any of it. Pretend it's not happening. Hmm...that's denial. But I know we have to figure this out. I just can't do it at the moment. I can't process the emotions to get to processing actions. I just want to sit and cry and do nothing. Why can't things go the way you expect them to? Why?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The next chapter....

It's the beginning of the end of this chapter for our family. My husband's medboard process has moved along. He received his percentages from the VA and the Army. We are very pleased with the outcome. They will be medically retiring him as well. Which is amazingly wonderful! The bonus to that is the kids and I will keep full benefits! I'm beyond relieved!!!

So, now begins the bittersweet changes that we were anticipating for so long. We have a short amount of time to get packed and moved. Although, his final orders are not in hand yet, we know they will be within the next week or so. Then after that, it's a matter of days to leaving Kansas.
I have begun making my "lists". I am a list person. I sometimes just need to see everything laid out just to squash any overwhelming feelings of procrastination. It never looks that bad when it's laid out in writing.
But here I am again, procrastinating. I'm lacking motivation to begin. I'm not sure if it's because chaos is not one of my strong points. I don't handle it well. And having my world in boxes sitting around in hallways, etc is utter chaos. I need organization and cleanliness. The thought stresses me out. Even with the list, I couldn't go that far as to make the "packing" list that I need. I have everything else leading up to that part.
And the thought of living out of boxes for the next...who knows how many months until we find a home. SHUDDER!!! I'm afflicted with anxiety and stress.
I know it needs to get done. So, I'm going to just buckle down and do it. Only thing I can do.
I'm going to start with one room. Which will be the office. I can pack away most of everything in there (sans photography gear) and the boxes won't necessarily be in direct sight. I can do this. I have to do this!!!
In the meantime, I've been trying to get in as much time with friends here as I possibly can. I'm going to miss them all terribly.
They've become my family. The definition of Army Family has a very strong meaning. They fill in for blood relations when you don't have any around. And it's just the same as leaving home. I'm leaving part of my family again. Definitely sad. But we have so many memories to keep with us. And we have friendship that will carry us through the rest of our years. Change and moving is inevitable in the military. But this time it just seems so final. Probably because it is.
So, if my girls are reading this....I love you all and I will miss you more than I can say.

But to stay's on to the next chapter of possibilities. :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's scary out there!

I've been thinking lately. (I know that's nothing unusual and yet scary all at the same time.)
I'm officially unemployed again. The school year has ended, summer vacation has started. And so begins the countdown to moving away from Kansas back home near our family.
There's alot of things that I'm going to miss about the military life. Weird, strange things that we take for granted. The civilian world is a super scary place. So, here's my list of pros and cons about things I'm going to miss when we're out of the military.

CONS to leaving the military
1) Military ID: As horrible and disgusting as my picture is on that thing, it's been on my person for the past five years. I don't go anywhere without it and I have to use it for pretty much everything on post. It's kinda like a badge. A badge of honor...yeah...I'm an Army Wife. what now??

2) Military neighbors/friends: The civilian world has nothing on the military community. We all are in the same situation. We've been there, we are there, or we're going there. Gives a new meaning to "Been There Done That Got the Shirt". Everyone is here for the same reason and we all have a common life. In the civilian world...there's all the different mixes that just make for a disconnected mess. We have a camaradarie and link to each other in one way or another.

3) Commissary: GAH I have a love-hate relationship with that place. It's chaos on paydays, but there's deals that you just don't get in the civilian world. Meat is cheaper. Milk is cheaper. Coupons that only military installations have. I dunno what I'm gonna do without access to this!!!

4) Free Concerts: I've seen some mighty awesome concerts being affiliated with the military. Those celebrities love to support their troops. And we as the families love when they do!!

5) Stability: okay...this is somewhat of an oxymoron. You do what the army tells you, when they tell you. But you have a house, you have a job, you have electricity. Things are provided that you have to provide for yourself in the civilian world. Losing that is probably the scariest of them all!

6) Medical: I'm gonna miss being able to go to the doctor anytime I want without have to worry if I can pay the deductible or co-pay. I'm REALLY going to miss getting pretty much all of my medications for free (including ibuprofen). If I think I'm falling apart now...wait till I have no medical. It could be ugly.

7) Opportunities: The military provides opportunities that the civilian world just doesn't get. We travel, we see new places, we learn new things, we get discounts at lots of different places. You can't do that in the real world unless you're made of money.

8) Support (Battle buddies): The government and everyone around you are always there to support you. Granted, sometimes it's not very good support, but there's good intentions. If something happens in the real world, and if you don't have family or really good friends, you're kinda on your own. There's always someone here who's got your back.


1) Freedom/Independence: Being able to go anywhere you want, whenever you want.

2) Family: Being near family. That's the one thing I've missed the most being gone.

3) Pride: Once an Army Wife...always an Army Wife.

There's many more PROS, but these are the top three that pretty much trump everything else.
So, when a civlian comes up to me when I get home and asks me if I'm glad to be done with the military life, my answer is going to be "not really". Because I do love the lifestyle even with it's challenges.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Nothing is certain...

I'm feeling a bit bipolar the last few days. Too many highs and lows in my moods for my liking. Maybe it's hormonal instead of bipolar. Oh but wait...they're very similar.

My daughter had her last choir concert at the high school she attends the other night. Those kids are amazing. Here's a peek............ (warning...I'm a photographer...not a videographer! lol)

I wish I had half of their talent!!
This video is the song the Women's Ensemble sang and received a Superior (1) ranking and went to state competition. My daughter is the blonde with the low ponytail to the side (if you haven't figured it out).

I'm so proud of my daughter!!!

After the concert though, she started crying because it's the last time she'll be singing with these kids. :( I can't even explain how much that broke my heart. It's nothing I can do to change it. On the way home, I was lost in thought about something a friend said for my Operation Me:Project Army Wife project. She said (I am paraphrasing) "Nothing is certain but change".
It's so true. I thought of that the whole night after and it completely bummed me out.
The school year is winding to a close and I'll soon be unemployed. As well as displaced from the military lifestyle soon enough after. It's so scary.

I hope and pray the next few months don't kill us with anticipation or worry of things to come.
And I'm hoping to enjoy time with my friends and getting out to see things here in the midwest before we move back home. I may as well live it up while we're still here.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Productive Day

It's been a very productive day. I am completely exhausted now.
I had three photo sessions today for my project Operation Me: Project Army Wife. They were all amazing. I can't wait to get edits done. Which, of course, will have to wait. I'm so behind on edits from other shoots as well. So, I guess I should get cracking on that this week.
We had so much fun with the shoots today though. Laughing with friends is always a great thing. I'd been fighting a migraine all day too. But I managed to keep it together for the five hours we worked on the sessions.
Please check out a sneak peek of a few photos from today's sessions at

I had tons more I wanted to write about tonight, but it's completely leaving my brain right now. So, I guess it's off to bed.

have a good one ya'll.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Operation Me: Project Army Wife

I mentioned in my last post about a photography project I'm working on. I've gotten a blog started for that project.
You can find it here

Please check it out.

For more info regarding this project, please message me on either blogsite.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I once was lost....

I've been discussing PTSD with a friend who's husband has recently been diagnosed. Not something that I would have ever imagined I'd be giving advise about in my lifetime. But there it is. During this conversation, I brought up how wives change. And this could be any wife, not just military wives. We bend and change ourselves to fit into our husband's life. And it's true. I've changed so much in the past fives years. Not that it's a completely bad thing. I do have things about myself that are better. Okay...let me explain.
I'm in counselling to help learn how to handle my husband's ptsd. One of the topics that gets brought up alot is "me".  What do I do for me? What has happened to "me"? How do I feel? What do I think? So many times since my husband came home from deployment have I pushed back the true and honest me in order to be more. More like what I think he wants me to be. More of a devoted wife. More of a caregiver. More of everything but myself. Granted, I am made up of all these things. But they shouldn't be all consuming to the point that I no longer feel, act, or think the way I used to. I've gotten lost in the day to day shuffle of husband, home, family, army, work, and PTSD/TBI.
This is an existence. Doing what is expected of you and never having a voice. I'm a drone. Created by my own insecurities, fears, and worries.
I'm working on a new project. Although, it's slow to get started, I have quite a few people signing up to work with me on it. (more info to come later about this)
The overall jist of my project is for women (Army wives in particular) to have a day that they are themselves. To reconnect with who YOU are. We all need to remember who we were that our husbands fell in love with. Who we were proud to be. Our individual persons. We're all wives. Mothers. Sisters. Daughters. But at the root of it all, we're women.
I've lost myself. And I'm learning how to get myself back. It's a slow process, but a process I must go through. I don't want others to feel lost like me. I want others to learn that we can be it all. We can do all these things and still have 15 minutes a day to be ourselves. We have to.
In the world we live in this lifestyle of being in the military, there are so many ways to lose ourselves. So many obstacles and challenges out of our control. We need to remember who we are.
I had a counsellor tell me once, you can't take care of everyone else if you don't take care of yourself first. And it's so true.
So, why is it so hard to take all this advise for myself? How do I practice what I preach?
By sharing it with others and passing it forward. It's all I know to do right now.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

One day at a time....

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

So true.
And it's like the saying about You'll never see the trees if you keep looking at the forest.
mmm hmmmm

I'm a here and now kind of person. Live in the moment. Granted, it's good to have goals and a plan for the future. But gotta just live for the now.

And God love my husband, he doesn't remember things like he used to. So, he's always going over things in his mind and asks me the same things over and over not realizing we've discussed it before. From my end...I can usually tolerate it. But catch me on "one of those days" and I know I don't handle it the way I probably should. (I'm sorry honey) Not to can you repeatedly tell someone something like that without them getting angry or frustrated? It's hard really. What do you do?

And we know we're leaving. This stupid yo-yo roller coaster ride with dates and such is getting pretty old. My daughter is already having a hard enough time adjusting to leaving. So, to be able to enjoy the time we have left here would be wonderful. Without being hell-bent on going.  We may not absolutely LOVE it here. But we don't hate it. And we do love some of the things/people here. So, why can't we enjoy the time we have left. We shouldn't make ourselves hate it so we can go go go faster when the army isn't going to let it happen like that. We're along for the I'm taking pictures.

It's spring break this week. It pretty much sucks so far. Between a severe allergy attack that kept me in bed for almost four days and nothing but rain rain rain, I'd like to request a do-over. Starting.....hmmm...NOW!!
If only...

Sunday, March 11, 2012


It's a dreary Sunday morning. A little chilly and everything is wet from rain. But it almost has a spring-like feel to it. What happened to winter? Whatever it is...let's just keep moving forward. After the tease of warmer temps, I can't imagine the thoughts of snow or a blizzard now. Spring fever is officially hitting.
I spent some time with my neighbor sitting on her front porch drinking coffee this morning. This has become a ritual for us. Weekend mornings sitting on the steps of her porch drinking a cup of coffee just chit chatting about whatever comes to mind. It's definitely something I'm gonna miss when we move back home.
I think the reality of us moving has been looming over this house for it seems like months. It's definitely a bittersweet feeling. But at the same time, it's scary leaving the military. This has been our life for some time now and leaving the security of it into the unknown has been weighing on the whole family. We're at the phase that we're waiting on paperwork to be transcripted and sent off for the Army to decide if he's fit for duty. Even though the doctors here have already said he's not. It always comes down to the Army's final word. And the usual hurry up and wait game.
I'm excited at the thoughts of being near family again. The comfort of seeing them at any given moment. There's excitement about a new house and decorating making it our home. That's always been a positive to moving with the military. But this's going to be our's. Hopefully anyway.
I think what worries me most is my daughter. She's dealing with leaving friends she's had for the past three years. And leaving in the middle of a high school career she's been working so hard on. I know she's struggling with this. And it breaks my heart that I don't know how to help her adjust to this. I do know that where ever we go, and whatever school she goes to, she's going to be fine. It's going to suck for a little while, but I'm praying she can see the good that will come from this move and eventually be excited, or at least happy, about it. As for now, we're making the most of being here in Kansas and enjoying friends and her musicals. All I can do is pray because I definitely don't know what else to do.

I've had a catch in my neck for four days now. I can only assume it's from stress I'm probably holding in. Or I can just say I slept wrong. Which is probably also a truth. Nothing has seemed to be a miraculous cure for it though. Muscle relaxers, massages, electric shock, bio-freeze. I've done it all. I even got hubby to pop my back for me. All of these things help a little...but the knots are still there and the pain is getting annoying. I must practice how to relax again. It's funny how I recall years ago being a single mom with stressors piled up in my life, I would meditate and do yoga and practice relaxing. But now, do I fall back on those things to help the tension? oooh no! Stubborn? maybe. I definitely need to do something though. Frooooshrababa. Is that how that goes?? HAHAHA My hubby says that and it cracks me up (no I haven't seen that movie...whatever it is that it came from). 
My motto right now is............ B r e a t h e.  I can do that. just breathe.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Famous Quotes of the Week

Quotes that may not be famous yet...but they should be.

"Sheesh Mom....grow some ovaries!!" - my 16 year old daughter

"Ay. Ay. Ay. Ay" (as said in the tone of the seagulls on Finding Nemo) - my 16 year old daughter and her two 16 year old friends on a car ride home.

"Mine. Mine. mine. mine." - the soldier working gate guard duty after hearing previous quote and spoken in the same tone of the seagulls on Finding Nemo

"Mrs. Shackelford, thanks for what you do." - one of the students where I work  :)

"I think I've seen that movie" - me, after hearing the teenage girls conversation about a movie showing teenagers trying to decide what movie to watch.

"I went to the commissary, but I just got the necessities." - my hubby, after purchasing Coca-cola and milk. My world is complete. :)

"I think you're in a better place now than you were a few months ago." - my counsellor. :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

It's getting real.

I've been working pretty hard on the photography thing lately. I have finished all my classes and I'm down to the last two projects. I've been racking my brain on one of the projects for weeks now trying to decide what to do. It's a still life project with the scenario being for an art gallery. I'm trying to stay away from anything that looks commercial, which is what my thoughts tend to drift back to. My artistic muse is spinning it's wheels. Definitely time to do some random, thoughtless, creative shoots that will kick-start my genius creativity.
I've done 5 studio shoots in the past week. All of which are sitting on an SD card waiting to be editted since my computer went in for repair a week ago. Do you know how lost it feels not having the computer? It's not like I don't have three other computers in the house. But that one is MY computer I do ALL my work on. But I can say, the Geek Squad at Best Buy have this wonderful tracker. I've tracked the progress on my computer every day. And it's finally been received, repaired, and shipped back to the store. I'm just waiting for it to reach the store and I get the call/notification that I can pick it up. Which will mean I will drop everything that day and go get it. HA!
I've also been working on getting my photography business up and running. Not that I wasn't already doing professional shoots. BUT...I have a studio set up now, as well as a light kit. I feel so professional. It's getting real. So, I spent yesterday morning taking inventory of all my equipment and props. I'm no where near done with this list. I just have a general version of it right now. But I have technical work to do as far as keeping track of serial numbers, etc. My files with equipment receipts, etc have been started. I've got a rough outline of the contract I will be using, as well as estimates, rights releases, etc. I also have business cards ready to be designed and printed. AND my portfolio is a constant work in progress. I need to have those shots printed and placed in this spectacular portfolio binder that I can thank my mother for (thanks Mom!).
I went through all the pictures I've done during photo shoots this weekend and I've realized how far I've come in just this past year. My compositions, poses, lighting, everything has gotten so much better. I'd like to say it's from the classes I've taken, but I think most of it has been through practice. And I'm so proud of myself and so pleased with how my shots are turning out now. Most of them in the last shoot, I will barely have to touch in the editting process. :) yay me!
here are a few for your viewing pleasure.... (all photos copyright Shari Shackelford 2012. Any use, copying, alterations, etc not authorized!)

Today is a beautiful day and I'm seriously considering going out to take some pics. That is once my arthritis meds kick in and I don't feel like I'm dragging cement blocks around with me.

Stay tuned for more of my photography business. And if you're local, send me a message and I'll get your session scheduled. ;)


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

10 for Tuesday

The weeks 10 random thoughts...

1) I've been working on a blog for a few days now about "my story". Actually it's titled "My Totem".  It will all be explained when I post it. But I am working really hard on it and hope to have it perfected in a day or two.

2)  It snowed today. We've gone all winter with very little snow. As compared to last winter when we were hit with blizzards and snowed in for days. I kinda miss a good snow. I say that now. And I may change my mind if it ever happens.

3)  The pup has been whimpering and whining for 3 days now. It concerns me. I want to think she's got a belly ache.  She got a little too much people food, which we normally don't give her. But occasionally give her meat to help her gain weight and help her fur. Maybe not so much in such a short amount of time from now on.

4)  It upsets me when the dog whimpers. It's like a baby cry.  And I don't know what to do to help her. :(

5)  The photo shoots have been few and far between lately. But that's okay. It's either too cold or rainy or something. Another reason I would like to see some snow. I need to do a snow shoot.

6)  GRAPHIC....squeamish....don't read!!!  I've been seeing the doc for some female issues that have been bothering me for quite some time now.  The hysterectomy I had years ago left me with one ovary. Which, i think is covered in cysts again. AND I think they're bursting. I've been in a lot of pain.  Ultrasound scheduled for next week. Hopefully I'll get some answers.

7) I am officially almost finished with my photography classes. I have one class left, then two final project/shoots. I'm really excited to get these done and finally have my certificate in hand.

8)  Is it sad it's not even 8 pm and I could seriously go to bed?

9)  My hubby finally sent for information to see if he qualifies for a PTSD service/therapy dog. :) I'll keep ya posted.

10)  I can't think anymore.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stop and Listen/Look

I woke up this morning, way too early for a Sunday of course, and took the pup out. As I stepped out on the porch, in Kansas, I had a feeling of being at the beach. The wind is crazy out there today. The air has a touch of warmth to it, but a damp warmth. It must have rained sometime in the night so everything was soggy. The air smelled of moisture and earth. It was somewhat nostalgic to say the least. That's one thing I noticed when I lived at the beach. The completely different nature of the environment compared to what I knew growing up in the mountains. And being in Kansas, having that feeling was completely out of place.
As I walked the dog, I could hear the wind blow through the trees. The huge pine tree down past the house has a distinct sound when the wind blows through it. Almost mechanical. A whirr of tiny parts that toss in the wind as it passes through the branches.
This is my quiet time. I love going outside and noticing things that one doesn't normally stop to look at or listen to in the busy, daily grind of life.
It's like the worn out fuzzy slippers I wear (inside and out). They're so old and falling apart. But I can't bring myself to get rid of them. It's a comfort of something of I've had for so long. Even though they smell like a thousand feet of a high school locker room no matter how many times I wash them, they are still my comfort.
I'm grateful that I have the ability to stop and notice things, no matter how pleasant or smelly in some cases.
I feel more aware of my surroundings and more in tune with my life. Because that's what life's what you're surrounded by. Connecting to what is around you, the earth, the air, your home, your family, is what makes you who you are and brings an enlightened existence.
I'm not sure why I'm so philosophical or whatever you want to call it today. It could be switching my coffee to half caff. Or maybe it's because it's Sunday. I don't know. But it feels pretty good.
I'm going to sit here before the rest of the family wakes up, and drink my half caff coffee, listening to the deafening sound of my husband's computer about to blow up and the dog chewing on a bone she found, and think about where I am today. Maybe today is a good day to go out on a photography adventure since I seem to be in tune with the world around me. 

Have a good one ya'll! Stop and look at your world today. ;)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Commissary Coupon Musings

I feel hyper. I have an unnatural high all related to couponing and the commissary.
I went to the commissary (for you store) today by myself. It was a rather enjoyable experience even though I sat in the parking lot for a moment dreading the hassle.  I only had a partial list of what we needed which could be a disaster because a) I would buy more than I really needed to and blow the budget or b) I wouldn't get everything I needed. And of course when I got home, I already have 3 items on the list for the next trip before I even got the bags put away.
So, I have noticed before that if you don't shop on payday or near payday (by a few days) more things are on sale. Which is what happened today. Not to mention I had some awesome coupons this trip (Thanks MOM!). And of course this was the shopping period that we were out of all the non-food essentials, such as shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.
We had a certain amount budgetted for groceries (as always) so this was my only stressor. But I took my time going through the aisles and picking sale items and items I had coupons for that were financially worth it. My buggy was heavy as I pushed up to the checkout line and I began to worry I'd blown the budget. My hubby can look at a buggy and get down to a few dollars the amount of how much it's going to come to. I dunno how he does it...but it freaks me out just a little bit.
Now, as you military spouses know, commissaries have large lines. No matter what time of the month it may be. And today, it was no different. I'm standing in line going through every single coupon I had to make sure I didn't miss anything. And as I'm doing that, I catch myself checking out buggies surrounding me and the contents that other people were buying. Gasp...I'm one of those people!! And I kept catching myself going through my coupons looking for a savings for other people's carts. REALLY!!! I spotted a couple single soldiers with a buggy half full of frozen items and convenience foods. I know they had to be single because a) two soldiers shopping together with one cart b) aforementioned frozen items and convenience foods and c) no rings on their fingers (yes I notice those things on occasion...not often though).  So, as I'm standing there I was a bit distraught because I had coupons for a good half of the things in their buggy that I wasn't using this trip. So the moral delimma began. Do I offer them the unused coupons from my trusty plastic coupon binder? Or do I just let the guys keep some dignity that they don't have to use coupons. I didn't give them the coupons. Although I gladly would have. I probably could have saved them at least $5. Just sayin'.
So, by the time all was said and done, I went over budget by $21...but by the time the coupons came off, I was only $6 over budget which I could justify from the amount of gas that I had budgeted for my vehicle this payday.
SWEET! I felt sooooo accomplished! I have a high from saving money!
The best deals I got was the Old Spice body wash I got hubby for $0.32. I got Pantene conditioner for free. Secret deodorant for just over $0.20. I hadn't even planned on getting some of those things until a trip to Walmart. But after seeing them on sale...AND having coupons...there's no better way to stock up...and stay under budget.

All in all, I feel good tonight. It's a fend-for-yourself supper night. So, I'm having Roasted Garlic & Black Bean Tostitos Artisan chips...just cause they're that amazing.
My one splurge on a non-diet item. ;)

Have a good one ya'll. Keep on couponing!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

One stack or two?

I haven't blogged in a long time. Lots been going on here. Some good stuff. Some not so great. I miss the days that I have some random story that I can write about and be creative through the words on the screen. But, alas, my muse has gone mute.
Although, today, I had a weird conversation at work. How I get sidetracked onto completely random topics is beyond me. But, I was talking about pancakes. Pancakes are my thing ya'll. And as you all know, I travel on occasion. Well....
When I was in my early 20's, we were travelling from Washington state to Virginia. Along this road trip, I had decided, and I have no idea WHY I decided this, to have pancakes in every state we stopped in. You know stopping at truck stops across the country is one amazing feat all in itself. The food in these places are usually awesome anyway. I mean think about it. They're feeding these truck drivers and travellers who have most likely travelled for hours on end and still have plenty more travelling to do. So, the food is always pretty darn good. Occasionally you gotta watch out for the greasy spoon dives. But for the most part, truck stop eating is good stuff. we drove along, I sampled pancakes in every state we stopped in. Asking for recipes when they were mouth watering fluffy goodness. (my fave was at a small place in Wyoming) And over the years, I've come to perfect it.
My children have grown up with pancake Sundays. And if they have a sleepover, it is a requirement that I make pancakes. Special occasions would spur even better over the top scrumptiousness with powdered sugar, fresh fruit, chocolate chips, whipped cream, or anything else we could concoct in our minds would be delectible. 
I remember one sleepover my daughter had. She was pretty young at the time as were the sleepover friends. And as per customary requirements, the plan was pancake Sunday after the sleepover. Late that night, one of the girls was afraid and called her mom to come get her. Once her mom was there, she asked if she could come back for pancakes in the morning. HA It was a no-go with the mom. From what I can recall, I think she toughed out the rest of the night at our house just to have pancakes the next day.
I don't share my pancake secrets or recipe with people outside the family. Except that you NEVER EVER ever smash the pancake down with the spatula. EVER!
And as my kids are older now, I'll gladly pass on the family tradition to them.
But for now, I'm gonna keep my griddle hot and my spatula handy (yes I have special pancake utentils and cookware I use).
Because Sunday is just around the corner and it'll be pancake time again. 
Oh...and just out of many pancakes does it take to actually make a "stack"?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I Know I'm Alive!!

Some days I wonder why do I feel so.....old. It's hard to start moving first thing in the morning. By the time I get out of the shower my legs already hurt. While drying my hair, I spend a good 5 minutes blow drying my legs just for the heat. It is comforting. By the end of the day, my legs have stabbing pains, spasms, tightness and constant ache. Not to mention the arthritis in my knees and the torn muscle in my lower back or the tension in my shoulders and neck.
Seriously...I'm not even 40 yet. But I have depression, peripheral vascular disease (PVD) with intermittent claudication, arthritis, and of course good ole allergies. All of which I take medication for.
I try to remember days when I didn't hurt. It seems so long ago now. Years actually. I can't remember when or what it felt like. I see kids/people jumping around or running. I remember that. I used to feel weightless and could do anything. Now I feel like gravity has a strong magnetic pull on me and my body weighs a ton. It's so hard to move some days.
The depression I've been diagnosed with is usually situational or seasonal. I do have anxiety occasionally and have some OCD tendencies. I am on medication for this which has helped alot. I am not emotionally hypersensitive like I usually am, although some times I do feel disconnected from any emotion at all.
The arthritis I suffer from is osteoarthritis. It's basically wear and tear on my joints due to usage/over-usage. In my case, I used to be fairly active. Especially as a Kempo Kickboxer. I have the grinding knees that barely bend on cold days and I do have some arthrtitis in other joints that ache as well. Stupid weather predictors.
The allergies I blame on Kansas. It's the grass here. I'm just not used to. I stay congested all the time. Hopefully when we leave here, it will clear up.
Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)....this is basically bad circulation. It sounds bad I know. It's when the veins (peripheral meaning outside the heart) constrict or have hardened and not enough blood can reach the muscles which results in a lack of oxygen. This causes Intermittent Claudication. That's the pain I experience. I have the claudication from the waist down. especially from my inner thighs just above the knees to my ankles. I am in constant pain. The more I move, the more pain I experience because the blood is trying to get through to the muscles, but it can't. Resting is the only time the pain eases up a little. Then my legs just feel tight and they twitch and I feel like I need to stretch them alot.

So tell does a 39 year old suffer from all these ailments?? I sound like I should be 69 years old instead.
I think the fact that I do feel so old is because I've lived my life like a wild person!! HAHA Actually I think maybe I just didn't take as good care of myself as I should have. That's what it basically boils down to. In hindsight, I don't know if I really would have changed my life. Maybe cut back on the fast food and the grease and possibly not smoked all those years I did. But there's no looking back now. I can only deal with what I've got now. And that's a worn out body that wants to be young again.
I've got these little tricks I do when I'm editting portraits I take where I can remove wrinkles. I've done it enough that when I look at myself in the mirror, in my mind I am visually running a mouse over the wrinkles on my face and erasing them. If only we really could do this!!! That would be awesome!
I also would use the "thinify" option as well with some creative cropping. Of coruse to do all this in real life requires work that causes me pain. sigh.
One day...I'm gonna feel better...physically and emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I promise myself that!!!  Not sure how I'm gonna accomplish this, but I'm gonna figure it out!! At least with all this pain, I know I'm alive!!!