In the midst of the chaos, I want to make sure I remember what I am thankful for. Sometimes the smallest things are enough to get you through.
Jesus' love for me and His forgiveness. No matter what I do, He is the one who never turns his back.
Piper Annabelle. Even though I have immense guilt in not being able to give her the attention she needs right now with my work schedule, if one good thing came from Michael & I being married...it was her.
Stranger friends. Like sister wives...but not. My stranger friends are folks on Twitter, my blog, Facebook, etc. People who I may never meet but show me immense support. You can be friends with someone for years and yet a stranger shows you more love than they do.
In the end when I was struggling, God showing me precisely why I needed to walk away.
Trader Joes Inside Out Carrot Cake Cookies
Trader Joes Kennebunkport Blueberry Wheat Ale
Trader Joes. Just plain Trader Joes.
Music that brings me back to a time when all was well in the world.
That I have a cruise to look forward to in a few weeks. So incredible.
That I've lived to see my 26th birthday. Some aren't so lucky.
That I was blessed with a relationship that while it tore every inside of my being apart, it taught me lessons and made me a stronger person. Well, it WILL make me a stronger person.
I'm thankful I learned what it was like to love someone in uniform and stand by them through a deployment. I feel there is no greater kind of love than the ones that make you sacrifice yourself.
I'm thankful for having a great roommate who has great, fun friends.
I'm thankful I get to live in a nice, beautiful house in a nice, beautiful neighborhood.
I'm thankful for friends who give me whiskey shots when I need them :)
I'm thankful for the tears. Each and every one of them.
I'm thankful for the show Army Wives. I know, lame...but it's honestly a good show.
I'm thankful for the rain.
What are you guys thankful for? Join in the blog hop I've started. I'll leave it open for a whole week, until midnight on April 7th. Take some time to reflect on what's important to you. Make a blog post and post the link here in the blog hop. Don't forget to share the hop info on your blog :)
I have been so blessed over the past few months, weeks, and days by friends who have given me support and strength during one of the most trying times in my life. Some of these people (a lot of them) I have never met and more than likely never will. I have to share one of them with you that touched me a lot...
My Tweet: "In less than 24 hours I will be a divorced woman. Not sure how to feel."
Tweety Friend: "Well, it might sound odd, but loved. We're all here for you through whatever life brings you."
So, it's now 12:40am on the day of my divorce. I'm in the final hours of being a married woman. Of being Mrs. P who is married to Mr. P. Even though it's been over for quite some time, there is now a real finality to it all. I wouldn't want to be him in that courtroom in 10 hours. I wouldn't be able to walk in, sit there, or stand for that matter. I'd be absolutely 100% grief stricken. I wonder what others do when they go to finalize their divorces. Do they cry? Do they choke up? Are they elated? I'm lost.
I need to get to bed, but I really would like to video blog my feelings once the day passes. I will share them with everyone later in the evening.
Please pray for me. I know I have asked many times before, but please pray for strength, healing, and guidance. I have no fears as to my future and where God will take me from here. I really don't. I'm just sad. I'm sad I have to grieve yet another something. A baby wasn't enough. Now it's a marriage. A marriage I truthfully wanted with every core of my being.
Please pray for M. Pray for him to continue on a path towards physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. Pray he finds peace in this situation and comfort and happiness in his next life.
Cancer sucks. My grandfather died from throat cancer when I was very very young. My grandmother died of lung and brain cancer. My aunt is currently dying of brain cancer. I've known many other women who have battled cervical and breast cancer.
On April 9th, I will be walking to honor and remember anyone who has been affected by this heinous disease. I would be so honored and grateful if my readers would consider making a donation to my team. I know times are tough and everyone is always seeking donations for something. I don't expect people to, but if you feel compelled to please consider. Even $5 is so appreciated and will help someone out there.
For anyone who donates, Piper & I will walk with the name of someone you wish to honor. Please leave a comment letting me know you've donated and the name you wish to be honored.
To donate, please click here and go to "Donate to our Team"...
I love me some popcorn, especially the special kind with yummy flavors. Back home in Orlando, we have a gourmet popcorn place right up the street from my dads house and they have some amazing popcorn. I haven't quite found another place like it, but when I stumbled across Jody's...I had to try. So, the fine folks over at Jody's Popcorn sent me a sampler of their gourmet flavored popcorn to try out. Here's what they sent...
(My camera refused to cooperate)
One bag of Funfetti, One bag of Recipe 53 Caramel Corn, and One bag of Chocolate Drizzle.
The first one I tore into was the Funfetti. I just loved the bright colors and it reminded me of some popcorn we made when I was in preschool :) The flavor was excellent and the caramel was nice and crisp with some amazing vanilla flavors. I think Funfetti would be fantastic in favor bags at children's parties and for school functions. I gave a little bit to the 2 year old I nanny for and he chowed it down. A regular sized bag of this stuff is $3.95 and I'd say has at the very least, 10-12 cups of popcorn.
The next flavor I tried was the Chocolate Drizzle. OH. EM. GEE. This stuff is SERIOUSLY amazing ya'll. I mean, I'm not a huge chocolate person so that's why I didn't eat this one first, but when I did...it was gone in 24 hours. I can't even describe how amazing this tastes. It's chewy, it's chocolaty, it's ever so slightly salty...it's the perfect treat. The vanilla flavor in this is fantastic and the chocolate they use tastes like very high quality. At $7.95 for a regular sized bag, I'd give this as gifts to people at work or to bring as a little hostess gift.
The last flavor is their Recipe 53 Caramel Corn, which I'm leaving for one of my lucky viewers to try. Jody's husband, who is a scientist and doctor, developed this recipe after 52 tries! Number 53 was the charm and thus this incredible popcorn was born. They use this as the base for the Chocolate Drizzle and let me tell you, you are in for a treat with this bag!
Overall, I would absolutely recommend Jody's Popcorn to my viewers. The flavors were great and it was nice to find a caramel based popcorn that didn't have that heavy, burnt flavor. The vanilla in the caramel was precisely perfect in every way. I was originally worried when they were sending these that they weren't going to taste fresh when they arrived. I was wrong! They can ship ANYWHERE and the packaging ensures it will always arrive fresh. You can't go wrong with Jody's Popcorn as a really fun gift for someone.
Jody's Popcorn is offering all of my fans 15% off any order by using code: REV15
Simply leave a comment here with your email address
A winner will be chosen via random.org on April 7th @ 11:59pm
Winner will receive one regular sized bag of Jody's Popcorn Recipe 53 Caramel Corn
Only open to United States Residents
Follow me on GFC - 1 Extra
Visit Jody's Popcorn and leave a comment with another flavor you'd like to try - 1 Extra
So I feel a little like Scarlett in the last scene of the movie. Not the apologizing, throwing herself at Rhett, and begging for forgiveness. NO NO NO. If you haven't seen Gone With the Wind, it's a TRAGEDY. I'm watching it right now. But, if you'd like to see the clip I'm referring to, click here to watch.
"Where shall I go? What shall I do?"
THAT is the line I'm most identifying with in the present moment. I feel stuck and more importantly, I'm trying to figure out what my involvement with the military world will look like once I'm no longer married to a soldier. Let me explain why that even matters...
I never set out to marry a soldier, yet somehow inside me...a small part of me said it would probably happen someday. My father, my uncles, and my grandfather all work(ed) for a missile defense company that provides vital equipment to our military. My father has been doing this since I can remember. My mom raised me to be extremely patriotic and a huge troop supporter. In Kindergarten, one of the teachers at my school's son was going off to fight in Desert Storm. I became his one and only pen pal, writing letters the old fashioned way and waiting weeks to hear anything. One day, they stopped coming and I found out he killed himself. I don't think my parents told me that until I was older. I remember standing on a major highway in Orlando with my mom, decked out in my red, white, and blue and waving "Welcome Home" banners for troops who were returning from Desert Storm. So, as you can see...it has played an important part in my life from the very beginning.
Flash forward almost 20 years and I found myself falling in love with a friend who was serving. I wanted to do anything and everything I could to support him while he was gone. And I did. While he was away, I volunteered at Walter Reed and became an AFTB instructor, learning everything there was to know about military life. I really enjoyed knowing that with the extra knowledge I was armed with, I had the chance to help others who were struggling or new to the Army family. It also comforted me in a strange way to be at Walter Reed, knowing that while I might not be directly visiting with injured troops in their hospital rooms, I was contributing to a greater purpose. I have always had a heart for volunteer ism, working with grieving children as well, but really found myself feeling at home working for military related causes.
Now, I'm lost. I'll be "losing" my title of military spouse and falling outside the circle. I'm not sure how I should stay involved and I'm even asking myself WHY I want to. A part of me feels so jilted by the military, but I have a huge desire to help others and not just anyone...but military families and service members.
I read a book before I got married called "The Ten Commandments of Dating" by Ben Young. In it, he described certain types of people and one in particular really stood out to me. Flashing lights, loud sirens, and practically had my face next to it. It was called "Mother Teresa Syndrome." You can read a bit about it here and here. In a nutshell, I want to help and save people so badly, sometimes it's to my own detriment. I have a huge desire to change lives, help the hurting, start a revolution, blah blah blah. Whatever you want to call it. With all that I've witnessed in my own relationship with a "broken" soldier and things I've seen through others relationships around me, I still want to be involved. I just don't know if I should or if so, what to do.
I'm angry still that it seems A LOT of service men and women have contracted Multiple Sclerosis. Ummm...Montel Williams served for 20+ years. I just made THAT connection a couple weeks ago. I don't think there is a coincidence here at all and I really wish something would be brought forward about it. I wish I could be that person, but I know my life is no longer with Michael and someday I'll find someone and our lives will not revolve around championing the MS military link. I don't want my past interrupting my future. Friends tell me one day it won't matter so much anymore. I get that, but my nature is to care. It might not matter as much...but somewhere inside I will ALWAYS wonder.
So, here I sit. Trying to figure out what me + military looks like in the future. I know some will scoff at the notion of me staying involved. Some will say I can't let go. I can't get over it. That my life revolves around being a military spouse or being involved with the military. Not true at all. It's why I've explained just how long the military has been a part of my life. Is it even possible for an EX military spouse to make a difference in the military community? I struggle with the notion simply because for whatever reason, childhood aside, the past 2 years (as small a time as that might be) I've spent deeply involved with the military, have really affected my life. For good and for bad. I won't ever be the same woman because of my experiences. Why not share that somehow?
Oy. These beginning questions are kinda boring. I don't watch a lot of TV honestly and the shows I watch seem kinda blah anyway. They most always have a cooking theme going like Hell's Kitchen, Top Chef, Kitchen Nightmares, etc. I'm NOT a drama/comedy/sitcom person. I prefer my TV as real as it can be these days. Let's just take it back old school and say...
One of the most exciting, nerve wracking, and important times in a military families life is homecoming, or "re-deployment" as it is also known. The pictures above were taken in September 2009 when M came into DC for his two week R&R. I wasn't able to go to his homecoming, aka he didn't want me there because we'd be seeing each other "soon enough" when we got married a couple weeks later. So, this was my pomp and circumstance homecoming.
With the release of the new reality TV show on Lifetime aptly titled "Coming Home," I have had some serious emotions stirred within me. I've noticed other military families I know have similar feelings about the show and it's portrayal. While we all seem to agree it's really touching, emotional, and powerful...there's also a side of homecoming that isn't being seen. But first, here's some of what my "Tweeps" had to say about their experiences...
"Our homecomings are so low key... lol. It's usually just Chris and maybe one other person :)" -@Sespi-
"Be careful about surprises that are too drastic; they may have the opposite effect you intended. Also, don't assume he wants a huge party. Might want quiet down time (snuggle time) at first. Ask, don't guess." -@PamelaMMcbride
"Nerves and being a little scared. Will you find him? Will the homecoming go well or will it be awkward? I was so nervous the first time hubby came home. Funny thing, I did have a hard time finding him, and it was a little awkward, but after I realized it was him, it was good." -@DogTagWifeLife
You can be married to someone for five years, fifteen years, or fifty days. Homecoming still makes you as nervous as the first time you met. You've gone an insanely extreme amount of time without seeing each other. Even with a two week R&R, it's very different having them home again...for good, for now.
I think about how incredibly happy I was when M came home for R&R and even more so when he was home from Iraq. The sense of relief you have that they even made it back at all is incredible. You feel so lucky, yet are also reminded of those who weren't. However, what "Coming Home" doesn't show is the all too real reality of life after the banners, balloons, pomp, and circumstance. It's not that I'd expect them to, it wouldn't make for cozy TV. It would end up more like an episode of "Intervention" than anything else, and how depressing is that show?
This IS the reality. 86% of deployed service members have received INCOMING fire. Guns being fired AT them. Bullets whizzing by their heads. More than half have experienced being attacked or ambushed. 1 out of every 3 has had to discharge his weapon. This is real. These are our husbands, brothers, cousins, sons. If you are a military spouse, mom, sister, sibling...this is someone you love. This is the real reality.
My husband didn't ever come back from Iraq. His happiness, his soul, and his inner self stayed there and I feel, will forever have a major part of him. He did this to sacrifice for our country. Selflessly. Without complaint. His life (and mine) will never, ever be the same.
During homecoming, all is well. Everyone is jubilant and as high as can be. What people fail to realize is that even though they look just the same on the outside, there are inner demons they are battling constantly on the inside. No soldier, marine, airmen, etc. is immune to it. If you think yours is, you are sadly mistaken. For M, he showed very minor signs immediately upon returning home. So obvious, that just days before our wedding...I almost called it off but shrugged it off as pre-wedding stress. It only got worse over time and the shortness and agitation grew into increasingly violent outbursts of uncontrollable anger. The man I loved was disappearing before my eyes and there was nothing I could do about it. NOTHING.
1 in every 5 service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan will return with PTSD. I believe this statistic is MUCH MUCH higher. I feel that more than half return with some sort of deployment related stress issue.
I really wish there were a REAL reality show or other outlet for people to see the devastating effect this has on so many. As much as people might not understand, as much as I might receive flack for it, my life will NEVER be the same because of M's PTSD. My heart will truthfully always hurt for him. It will hurt for the hopes I had for our marriage. The military brought us together again, but in the end it ended up tearing us apart.
Oy! Sometimes there are things I think about after I post an entry and say, "Maybe I should put that little disclaimer in there so people don't get confused." Most the time I don't, simply because I'm hopeful people will use common sense and know that some things go without saying. Anyway, since I received a comment regarding something I was planning on disclaiming but didn't, let me say this...
EVERYONE'S EXPERIENCE IS DIFFERENT! In no way is this blog entry or my life in general a direct reflection on how life is for all military families. My husband deployed to Iraq in 2008-2009 and saw combat. His MOS was Field Artillery and basically was an infantryman. Obviously, not everyone sees combat but still serves a vital role during war (and non war) times. I'm speaking based on experience of MY life and my situation. By making the comment that no service member is immune...it should be understood that this applies to those who SEE COMBAT and experience war. I did not say that every service member will come back with PTSD, will become violent, abusive, etc. However, that statement meant just what it said. If you think it cannot happen to your loved one for (insert reason here) you are wrong. It can happen to ANYONE who experiences a traumatic event such as war, and you won't have any warning it's coming. I always thought of M as an incredibly resilient person so I thought war would be something he'd be able to move on from. The point of this entry was to share my experience and talk about what CAN happen after all of the TV cameras and flashbulbs are gone.
I 100% welcome anyone who ever wants to agree or disagree with me on anything I write about. Sometimes I guess I just have to go the extra mile to clarify before posting something.
March 30th is the day my marriage will be officially over. I know I haven't blogged yet about what happened when M came to visit last weekend, but I will soon. In a nutshell, there was one final paper that needed to be completed because our papers were filed incorrectly. We were working on things, so there was no need to sign it...until this past weekend. None the less, M turned it in when he got back to TX and has to appear in court on Wednesday. 6 months to the day we filed. It just got to the point of no return. Despite whole hearted efforts, we're just not meant to spend our lives together. We're like oil and water now. Can't see eye to eye on anything. Everything is a fight. Constantly trying to one up the other and a lot of hurt and anger from past issues.
I'm sad, but hopeful for the future and will be really relieved to have this all behind me.
Perfect song. I will be shouting from the top of my lungs when they sing this on my cruise.
So, to say the Bible would be entirely cliche...and I'll be honest...I haven't been so good lately about cracking it open. I was a HUGE book fan growing up. You couldn't put enough of them in front of me. Babysitters Club. Nancy Drew. Goosebumps. Boxcar Children (was that even the name?). Then, I went through a rebellious stage where I refused to pick one up. Only during M's deployment did my love for reading really come back into play.
I'm majorly into self-help books. My entire library consists of them. I love hearing a different perspective on how to live your life and be a better person. If they weren't all in boxes, I'd probably be better able to answer this question, but I'll give it my best shot.
The book that seriously changed my life was...
This book went through a "trendy, it's all the rage" period. My mom had it. My best friend had it. I had it. EVERYONE had it. The pure and simpleness of it all was so stinkin' true. HEY...if a guy is REALLY into you, he'll act like it. 100% of the time. If he thinks you're an amazing catch, he won't risk losing you. He'll do whatever he has to, to keep you around. And calling you after a long night of drinking at 3am, isn't the kind of "into you" that's good. It really, truly helped me grow a backbone when it comes to dating and relationships. Needless to say in the future, if you're not that into me...you won't be hanging around :)
The author Greg Behrendt also had a "sequel" entitled "It's Called A Breakup 'Cuz It's Broken." Another seriously amazing read. It's another no nonsense take on why relationships end and why you should just get over it and move on with your life. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.
So, what is your favorite book? Perhaps ya'll can suggest some things to add to my summer reading list :)
PS. I'm currently working on "Love, Lust, and Faking It" by Jenny McCarthy
To try to pick one single favorite movie is nearly impossible and honestly I think I'm going to violate this rule. Right now I'm watching "Waiting to Exhale" and in complete bliss. Last time s*@% hit the fan with M&I, I was desperately searching for this movie. I love it so much. Anyway, here are my top FIVE favorite movies. Bonus points if you can guess them by the picture :)
I love birthdays, if you can't already tell. I think they represent something very, very special. How would life be different if you were never born? Take a second to stop and think. Hopefully, you've done some great things in your life and been able to see the impact. It doesn't take much to make a difference. Birthdays are a day to celebrate all of that.
This year is going to be tough being that I'm far away from all my family and friends in Florida. Last year wasn't great for obvious reasons and this year with the added issue of M & I's marriage being 100% over, it just has a sour taste. BUT...I'm not letting any of that ruin it. My friend Kate is planning something fun for us to do tomorrow, so I'm excited for that.
Anyway, I am a dreamer and figured I'd have some fun and post my birthday wish list. None of these items I intend on getting for my birthday, just figured it would be fun to compile :)
Shannon's Birthday Wish List
*Cupcakes from Cupcakes Actually or Georgetown Cupcake*
Like I said in an earlier post, I'm DYING for a "couture" cupcake from my old "home."
I know there is a long standing debate amongst everyone on Nook vs Kindle vs iPad etc. I have played with the Nook and absolutely LOVE IT! Truth be told, I fell in love with the fact they offer Lilly Pulitzer and Kate Spade covers.
*Hot Pink Heels*
Umm...Louboutins would be A DREAM, but I'm really craving some new shoes and I'm DYING for a pair of hot pink heels. If anyone sees any fab ones, let me know!
I miss my BMW. Bad. I know with gas prices it's probably a good thing I got rid of it when I did. My insurance was almost as much as my car payment. UGH! I know my time will come again, but boy do I miss climbing in my sweet, shiny Bimmer.
*A New Pair of Stunner Shades*
I am notorious for losing designer shades. It started with my most favorite pair of Chanel's back in the day. Then I lost a pair of Dior's @ Schlitterbahn. Tragic. Now I've been cruising around with nada.
So, for day one...I will share with ya'll one of my many, many favorite songs.
Mandolin Rain by Bruce Hornsby is one of my faves. It's a classic and the lyrics are so amazing to me. Perhaps because they envoke A LOT of feelings from a past relationship, but regardless I love Bruce Hornsby. Whenever I put this song on in my car, you can bet my windows and sunroof are down and it's on full blast.
Favorite lyrics? "I'll do my time keeping you off my mind but there's moments that I find I'm not feeling so strong."
This could not have come at a better time. I am so thankful to the bloggers over at Miskabelly for hosting this awesome giveaway from DeLaVie Designs. I have wanted some sort of memorial trinket necklace to remember Jayden for the longest time. I love hand stamped jewelry and just haven't gotten around to purchasing one with so much going on. Well, I won this beauty today and it made my day. Perhaps my angel baby intervened and made it happen :) I'll be getting it with a "J" naturally. Once I receive it, I'll be sure to show it off.
And...Mary @ The Great Elephant Symposium surprised me by reminding me of another sweet baby memorial she did for Baby Pando last year at Galveston Beach. For some reason, I missed it when she posted it on The Bump's loss board. Thanks for the reminder Mary!
And major thanks to everyone who has left me sweet comments today. I'm going to light the candle given to me at The Compassionate Friends memorial I went to last year and relax with my tea :)
My first child went home to be with the angels. You can read back here. The pain has gotten so much less intense, but it is still there. It's hard to think I could have had a healthy 3 month old baby in my arms at the moment, but I know God has a plan. I know given the situation M & I are in, it was God protecting all of us. Right? Who knows. Anyway, it really does feel like yesterday. I can remember everything so vividly. I'll get through it.