After Three Years, We Are Finally Closing The Distance

September 15th.

That’s the date I want to finally close the gap between me and Taylor.

Continue reading After Three Years, We Are Finally Closing The Distance

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Deployment Diaries: Six Ways to Make the Time Fly

I felt really overwhelmed after Taylor left. It is my first time going through a deployment and I had no idea where to start as silly as that sounds. How am I going to survive all these months? What am I supposed to do to pass the time? How do I go back to “normal” life again?

Continue reading Deployment Diaries: Six Ways to Make the Time Fly

Six Tips to Surviving the First Underway

*For the safety of my sailor and his boat, there are no dates, locations or names posted. The article has been written and posted after his underway was long done and over. ย OPSEC for the win.

I have been very fortunate in the fact that, for the first two years of this adventure, I have been able to speak to my sailor on the daily minus bootcamp of course. I actually forgot what it was like to not speak to him for more than 24 hours. After he graduated from all of his schooling, he came home for a month of leave, left for his first duty station and shortly after came the first underway. For those of you that don’t know, underways are like mini deployments that only last maybe a month or two at most.

This was like bootcamp all over again. And it sucked.ย He said his goodbyes over text to me and that was it. So began the first underway.

Continue reading Six Tips to Surviving the First Underway

An Open Letter to Those Trying to Talk My Boyfriend Out of Our Military Relationship

To Whom It May Concern,

“And everyone I talk to out here says to just end it now because these relationships never work.”

My heart, filled with anger and sadness, sank to the bottom of my gut after reading what my boyfriend had just texted me.

You told him that I wouldn’t be able to handle the 4,000 miles between us. I won’t be able to handle his busy schedule you said. It is a guarantee that I will cheat you said. Because I chose to not move in with him the relationship will surely fail you said.

I realize, that to the military, I am nothing. Not his family. Not his wife. I am just a girlfriend. I do not matter to the United States military.

Of this, I am fully aware.

But shame on you for assuming what kind of woman I am. Shame on you for filling my boyfriend’s head with worry and his heart with sadness.

And while I am filled with hurt, I also have gratitude towards you. Thank you for putting a fire in my heart and a determination in my soul to make this distance work.

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Watch me handle deployments with grace and love. Watch me have the patience and understanding to deal with our differing work schedules. I hope you get to witness the care packages he will get along with the constant flow of emails, letters and funny cards. I had the strength to stay back home so I could enhance my career and finish my schooling so that I wouldn’t have to rely on the military for money. So, watch me not cheat on him or use him for his military paycheck because I took the time to establish myself.

And, unfortunately, while what you keep driving into his head has an impact what I have to say to him has a greater one. Little do you know how strong my boy is and how much love he has for me.

You bringing our relationship down gave me the opportunity to relive with him all the beautiful memories that we have had, the ones that have made us laugh until we cried. And with those memories came the pictures: the happiest pictures of us on our anniversary, that one that I made a stupid face by the river, pictures from every single graduation he has had. All to remind him that even when we were thousands of miles apart we were never truly far from each other.

So, I thank you. For you made us stronger and you sparked a passion in me to be the best “girl back home” that I can be.

 

Love always,

A dedicated and strong military girlfriend

 

 

 

How to Get Back On Your Feet After They Leave

 

You’ve just spent this amazing few weeks with your SO filled with lots of love, companionship, laughter, fun-filled plans and parties. Then no sooner do they get back that you find yourself back at the airport waving goodbye with tear-soaked eyes and a snot-filled tissue in your non-waving hand. Then there is the drive home from the airport that you don’t really remember too much because of all the thinking you have done during that time. Then before you know it, you are standing in the front door of your house and you have no clue what to do.

Sound familiar?

Continue reading How to Get Back On Your Feet After They Leave

I Didn’t Choose the Military, I Chose Him

Military relationships are not Dear John. It’s not romantic. It’s not wonderful. When you ask a little girl where she sees herself one day, most likely, the answer will not be sleeping in a bed by herself while her husband is fighting a war and her kids are asking where daddy is.

Most people already understand that so it’s no surprise that I often get asked the question, “Why would you ever put yourself through that?”

I asked myself that same question when I first met Taylor. We met at a small gathering of friends and he kept talking about leaving for bootcamp in a few weeks and how excited he was. Being a military girlfriend was never in my plans and I never even thought about what it would be like. Actually, believe it or not, it was a deal breaker for me.

But our second date was when I saw Taylor. And I don’t mean literally. I had my contacts in that first time and could see just fine. I saw what kind of person he was. After that second date I felt like I had just met my best friend. It was the best and easiest date that I had ever been on. I drove home and battled with my previous thoughts and what I considered to be a deal breaker.

I didn’t choose the military. I wasn’t on the hunt for a single, military man. I really don’t like the long distance and the worry. I don’t want him to be deployed. I don’t want to move far away from my family and be alone a good majority of the time. I hate that one day I will have to explain to my kids why their dad can’t be at their sports tournament. I didn’t ask for any of that.

But I did choose him. And that’s where people start to lose understanding. ย I chose to be with someone who works hard and who treats me better than anyone. If I was going to live 1,000 miles from anyone, I wanted it to be him. And no one I have ever met was worth me leaving my little hometown until I met Taylor. And if my kids had any father, any man to look up to, I’d want it to be a man who works hard, loves his family and loves his country too. A man that is courageous in both heart and spirit.

I don’t want any sympathy. I didn’t want a military relationship so I could be the victim. I didn’t want this so I could go out and see other men but still have the security of a relationship.

When you love a person, and I mean truly love a person, you take the good with the bad. Being a military girlfriend wasn’t ideal for me but all the other good things far outweighed any anxieties I had.

I chose to love another with everything that I have…even if he chooses to wear a uniform.

 

 

How to Budget Your Travels into Your Monthly Expenses

 

For two years now, Charleston has become my second home and it wasn’t too traumatic on my wallet most of the time. My airline tickets averaged around $300 and if I couldn’t do that I could drive.

The next stop on our military journey, however, is going to be Hawaii, a trip that will most definitely not be too kind on the old wallet. But I have recently put in place some tips and tricks that will get me, stress-free, to Hawaii and back… I might even be able to afford a nice dinner while I’m there.

The key to making all of this easier on you is to answer four questions:

How much will your trip cost?

The first step is knowing how much your trip will cost for the big stuff such as hotels, rental cars, gas, plane tickets, food, souvenirs, etc. Keep in mind that it is best to over guess prices than under guess. Also, keep in mind that many places, if you are married to the military, you can get discounts! You can make a rough calculation based on these prices…

Food: I know that, personally, I spend about $20 on each meal when I go on vacation. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it is less depending on where I am going and what meal it is. All in all, I give food about $60 per day. Take that and multiple it by how many days you are staying.

Plane tickets: A round-trip ticket to Hawaii is about $850 give or take. Look around on Google or there is a really helpful app called Hopper that will tell you pricing and pick a median price that sounds good to you.

Gas: If driving is your choice of transportation, find out how many miles it will be and find out what your car’s miles per gallon rate is. Divide the miles it will take to get there by the miles per gallon of your car. Then find the average gas prices in your area and multiply it by the numbers you just figured.

EX:) It used to take me 923 miles to drive to Charleston, SC. My little Honda Civic drives about 33 miles per gallon.

923/33= 27.97 gallons of gas to get to Charleston

I usually round up just to be safe so we’ll say about 30 gallons of gas. (I tend to get lost a lot.)

The gas prices around Chicago are about $2.20. So, 2.20×30=66. It will cost me about $66 in gas to get one way to Charleston.

Also, keep in mind that you will be driving around while you are there. Take that into account when finding out how much you will spend in gas.

Rental Cars: This one you should do a bit of research on. This all depends on the company, the type of car, the size of the car and how many days you will be renting it for. ย This will require a bit of your own research to figure out, however, USA Today wrote a good article to see what the averages are.

Hotels: Again, this will require some research on your part. Based on where you stay and how nice you’d like your hotel or motel to be, these prices can range greatly.

Ex:) Whenever I go to visit my boyfriend, I already have my transportation and sleeping accommodations taken care of so really that just leaves my plane ticket, food and souvenirs and money for the things we want to do.

Plane ticket: I averaged this out to $850.

Food: I will probably spend about a week in Hawaii so my food will come out to about $420.

Souvenirs/things to do: I gave myself a budget of about $75 a day for things I want to buy and things we want to do. This adds up to about $525.

 

All in all, my trip to Hawaii will cost me $1,795.

When are you planning to go?

Whew! You’ve now have the first and maybe hardest step done! Next comes planning when you’d like to go. Pick a month and calculate how many months that is from today.

Ex:) I would like to go to Hawaii at the beginning of September. That is about 3 months from now.

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How much money do you make a month?

Take your paychecks and add them together! If you are a bartender, waitress or anyone who has varying paychecks a month, figure out an average. About how much a day or a week do you normally bring home in tips.

Ex:) One of my paychecks a month is about $800 and the other one is about $900. I also freelance a little so I added in about an extra $50.

Turns out to be about $1,750.

After paying your bills, how much “fun” money do you have to spend?

I have a whiteboard next to my desk that lists out all of my bills that I have to pay, when they come out and have a space for me to check mark them when they have been paid. I know, I know, I’m a really big dork.

But it helps! Write out all your expenses, take what you make monthly and subtract them.

EX:) I make about $1,750 and lets say, for the sake of this post, that my bills come out to be $1,000 a month. That leaves me $750 to spend on whatever my little heart desires.

Put it all together!

Take how much your trip will cost and divide that by how much time you have between now and then. Take that number and look to see if you can feasibly afford to put away that much every month. If not, you may need to think about moving your trip a little farther back.

EX:) My trip is going to cost $1,795 and I have three months to save up.

$1,795/3= $598 per month that I need to save.

We already figured out that I have $750 to spend on what I would like every month. With that being said, if I put away about $600 a month toward my trip I would still have about $150 dollars to spend on going out with friends, new clothes, etc. which is fine for me.

 

Once you have figured out a good monthly budget for you, now it is time to start saving! Once a month, place that money into a savings account, under your bed, a piggy bank, and save up for that trip you’ve been dying to take.

Life is way too short to not travel. Don’t let your financial status stop you.