Wednesday, March 23, 2011

MMB Post

I'm behind, but this was my post back on the 11th.

Facing The Wall?

A while back, we had a visit from some Navy higher-ups, and things have improved around here since then. Our COLA doubled, and MWR has made a much greater effort to get new rec equipment here. (Looking forward to the paintball stuff!)

The best news for me, though (outside of the much needed COLA), was that they were going to find us some new gym equipment. The gym here is in serious need of some TLC. Half the cardio equipment is either broken or nearly there, and it's all jammed into this tiny room with some useless TVs (due to placement) high up on the wall. The rest of the gym is full of ancient weight machines that do seem mostly functional, and free weights. Clearly, whoever designed it initially (if I can use the word "design" here) was more into weight lifting than cardio.

Anyway, I spend a fair amount of time in there during the summer when it's way too hot to run outside. When I heard MWR was going to send new equipment, I was excited. (Well, okay, new to us - it actually was all used at some point at another base, but is a far cry better than the barely-working stuff they've had in there.)

This Monday, Oliver had to go help lug it all in there as the machines arrived on the barge this past weekend. I went to run later that afternoon and got a taste of the new treadmills. While they aren't technically new, they look pretty new compared to the crap we've been using in there. The one I used may actually be new, and reminds me of the nice ones they had in the gym back in WA.

So, good news there. The bad news? They used to face the doorway, which was awkward and I have whacked my knee before trying to get around the other machines. So, they turned them to face the wall, where a horribly done mural of a killer whale in the ocean is pasted. I appreciate the ease of getting onto them, but it hasn't helped the tedious nature of a treadmill by sticking an ugly mural five inches from my face. Oliver did say the plan was to get flat screens across that wall to replace the TVs that are so high up you can't watch them without falling off your machine, so hopefully this will not be an issue anymore.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


They are in the middle of a voluntary evacuation of hundreds of military families from Japan's mainland. Some of them are coming from the base we would have been at if we'd gotten our wish and headed to Japan 18 months ago. I'm a little weirded out by it. I mean, on the one hand, I'm grateful we aren't in the middle of that mess, and I know it's easy to say, hey, we were blessed or whatever. But are we really any more important than anyone else who was there? I dunno - I suspect this is the foundation of survivor's guilt, although obviously my own situation isn't quite that...

Anyway, I am praying for this nuclear situation to find a resolution. As horrible as the tsunami was, it's this problem that has me most on edge. Japan isn't exactly a backwards, newbie-on-the-tech-scene kind of country. Clearly, no matter how safe you make it, nuclear power has some very real risks that come with the benefits.

I've read articles calling, once again, for countries to ban it. I think it's far too late for that sort of thing, and nuclear power is here to stay. I wonder, though, where the next meltdown will occur. Who will pay the highest price for this revolutionary, yet horribly unsafe energy source?

And, yes, this is coming from a military wife whose husband spent over six years hiding nuclear warheads in the pacific ocean. Which is why I understand this isn't so simplistic as just banning it. No one's giving it up now. I am proud of my husband for doing his job; I feel very strongly that it's necessary to hopefully keep the balance of power so no one feels confident enough to shoot off their nukes.

But will we learn from this mess in Japan? Will we think long and hard about nuclear power and the risks it entails? Will we work harder to ensure that anyone living near a reactor is properly evacuated, given iodine, kept informed, etc. in case of disaster? Will we put enough money into developing worst case scenarios and resources? Will we work on building better back up generators? Or will everyone in the world just think, hey, wasn't in my backyard - the Japanese must be doing something wrong.

All I have to say to that is, think about Katrina. Consider what would have happened if there'd been a reactor in the path of that storm.

Don't even get me started on Libya...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

God Made Everything, Except...

Tonight, right after saying prayer before eating dinner, Wyatt looked up at us and commented, "God made everything, right? Except traffic lights."

We started laughing, but I will admit, he has a point. Why would God make something that causes so many people to curse Him when they are sitting at one?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Let There Be Milk

I'm hoping they will unload the barge today. I know it finally arrived here yesterday, but when Oliver went to see if they had milk at the store right before closing, there was a sign up that apologized that nothing had been offloaded as of yet. We've been nursing our last half gallon, but ran out last night, so it was toast and bananas (grown here on Andros - so much better than the stuff you can buy in the States!) for breakfast today.

In truth, I'm kind of getting used to the shortages, so I'm not really peeved about it. We have powdered and canned milk as a back up for cooking, and it's not going to kill us to not drink it for awhile. Lack of choice is definitely not the same as no food at all.

I am, however, getting a good picture of why the buy local campaigns matter. We get most of our food from the States, which gets a lot of it from other countries. When the resupply barge, which comes weekly, is delayed by bad weather (like it was this week - the winds here have been crazy), everything gets dicey.
Add to that early frosts in different countries, including California (as has been reported recently to us), and you get a situation here where not too much choice becomes almost no choice.

Like the complete lack of fresh vegetables lately. I used to count on getting a decent salad at the chow hall, which is pretty much the only reason I enjoy eating there occasionally. The last time we went, though, all they had was lettuce, some sad looking cucumbers, and canned fruit. There wasn't even a potato bar with diced onions, tomatoes, and peppers, which I often use on my salad. The store has had about five kinds of "fresh" vegetables, most of which look like they are going to rot by the time you get them home.

So, I'm really, really grateful for the stuff we've been able to buy that was grown here. There is a big initiative in the Bahamas right now to grow a garden because so much of what they eat is imported. A place like this is much more susceptible to food supply disruptions because of how our food gets here. I hope they are successful at encouraging more local food production. I haven't had a lot of success in our garden the last six months or so, but I just put some more seeds in the ground and am crossing my fingers over them. Wyatt is also in a gardening class once a week after school, and they are growing vegetables in four raised beds next to the school building. It's really awesome sometimes the opportunities that can come from moving around. Gaining new perspectives is by far the reason I can't wrap my head around the idea of ever settling down.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Guilt Factor, and Why It Had To Go

Lately, I feel like I've had my eyes opened to a lot of things about myself and the way I live my life. I don't know if it's all the unscheduled time, or the lack of  church to attend, or all this uncertainty about what our lives will look like after we leave here, but this last month or so has been one of many deep conversations and even deeper thoughts running through my head. Today, I finally feel like I have a grip on a lot of it, so I'm ready to type it out. Some of you will probably disagree with me, but that's totally okay with me. I can handle disagreement. I'm a big girl, and realize not everyone's world view lines up with mine.


Having been raised the way I was, and with religion as a huge part of it, I think one of the not so great legacies is that I've learned that life is about doing what you have to so you don't feel guilty all the time. It's about what you are supposed to do, not what you want to do. There are so many penalties and fear of your salvation. My parents were masters of the guilt trip, too - they added in a lot of other issues that have made it all magnified for me.

This last year and a half, where all my time is now pretty much my own and I can order it how I will, has lead to a lot of  issues for me. I keep wandering around, besieged by guilt that I often can't even place. I'd have good days and I'd have bad ones, but in the end, I felt like I was spinning in circles, avoiding anything that seemed like it "had" to be done.

So, I decided about a month ago that I was getting off the guilt train. I was going to stop feeling guilty period. The first few weeks, quite honestly, I just played video games or surfed the web in between taking care of the family. The house got to be a huge wreck and I didn't really care.

Except, I did on some level. After spending so much time just doing whatever dumb thing I wanted, I realized that my life wasn't just about fun stuff. I have a lot of things I want out of life, and none of them include amusing myself on the computer. And I don't want my main motivator to be guilt anymore. Because it's a terrible motivator, and when I respond to it, I don't feel fulfilled in the end because there is always something more to feel guilty about. I want to live my life focusing on the things that I want out of it, not the fear of what will happen if I don't do all these things that other people say are important.

After having this mind shift, I realized that this week was the first in my life that I actually felt the desire to keep the house clean and didn't mind doing the work required to make that happen. Why? Because I have realized that living in a clean house matters a lot more to me than I thought it did. Because it isn't about what other people think about our house, it's what we who live here think. In that same vein, I'm done apologizing because I didn't do the dishes last night or the living room floor is full of toys when someone happens to drop by. Our life is what we want it to be, not a show piece for others.

I cannot deny the role that religion has played in this. I was raised Mormon, and have stuck with it during my adult life because at heart I believe it is true. However, I think the absolute worst thing about my own religion, and religions in general, is the role guilt always plays in everything. It's always the little edge they stick in there to get people to do stuff. "This calling came straight from God, so you can't say no." Your salvation always seems to be hanging on the edge of whether or not you do every little, tiny thing exactly right, even though people will give lip service to how it doesn't matter if  you're perfect.

I've seen the worst of this lately on a few Mormon leaning blogs (although I've seen similar things on other religious blogs, it just didn't affect me the same way because I don't belong to those faiths) that have come up with religious-leaning products to sell to their readers. The selling point is that whatever it is will help your family or you come to Christ in amazing ways. The implied message is that whatever you are doing now isn't enough, and if you don't buy this, you will be poorer for it. I'm so turned off by that kind of marketing. Feel free to explain what you are selling to me, but I don't want to hear about how amazing it will be in my life because you have no way of knowing that. None.

I should say I'm still pretty religious, and I'm going to attend the Mormon church again when we return to the States. I am not, however, going to let anyone guilt trip me into doing things. If a calling really, truly does not fit into my life at that point in time, I'm going to say no. And I'm not going to obsess over it. Sometimes, people don't know what is going on in your life. And if my visiting teaching list is next to impossible for me to accomplish, or I'm having issues with my partner, I'm going to ask for a change.

I don't know why we have always been expected to  just take it and go with it because it's such a random slapping together of people. Doesn't it make a little more sense if we give the people putting together these assignments a little more input? Like, when I never had a car and couldn't visit anyone off base without much drama with my husband's command or by making my companion do all the driving? That whole thing was stupid, and the end result was me not doing much at all, when I should have spoken up and asked for change. But there was the unspoken message that you don't do that because it's not right. Except, that makes no freaking sense...

And now that this is starting to shift into something else, I am going to finish up by saying I feel better today, better than I have in a long, long time about my life and the direction it's going. I think sometimes we are afraid to just focus on what we want because we've been taught that these bigger goals someone else set are more important than our own.  We've got all these things to check off along the way, instead of trying to forge our own path. I don't think that is really what the core of the gospel is about, but somehow that's the message that often comes across. Like when I lived in Utah and it seemed everyone was checking out what their neighbor was doing to see if they were still living on the straight and narrow.

Then there is the fear that if we just do what we want, we'll go tripping off in the sunset, sinning freely along the way. I don't really feel any great desire to break the covenants I've made or the things I've come to believe strongly in. I want to attend church again, and I would like a calling. I am, however, going to do those things because I want to, not because I feel like I have to. The beautiful thing about consequences is that we get to choose them. If I'm without a husband and don't feel like braving sacrament meeting with my two kids while someone whispers behind me how annoyed they are because my boys are loud (true story), I'll stay home and not fret about it. I'll accept the consequence that maybe I'll miss out on something, or maybe my kids will get the wrong message. Or, I'll take them and try to ignore the people around me because I'm trying to teach my sons something about how important church is even when we are tired and feel forgotten by those there. Either way, it's my choice to make, and not something to freak out about over and over again. I regret how many times I've done that.

I'm not going to wrap this up well because my three year old needs me to spend time with him playing Duplos. And I want to make him happy more than I want to give this blog post a nice, clean conclusion. I do need to stress, though, that I feel more in control of my life now that I ever have. I get to choose how to feel, where to go, and what I want out of life. And guilt, well, I'm done with that for good.