Friendship Garden

Friendship Garden

Friendships are like flowers.  I love flowers.  They bring me joy; they make me happy.  Friends bring me joy and make me happy also.

Some flowers, annuals, only last in our gardens for a season; and some, perennials, have longevity, coming back year after year with repeated beauty.  Some friendships only last for a short time and others last a lifetime.

If you’ve ever had a friendship that has faded over time, you’ve undoubtedly feel some sadness over it.  I know I’ve had a few of these friendships.  Often, they simply faded away since one of us physically moved away from the other.  With both my father and husband serving as career Marines, I have moved frequently my entire life.  Even though these were close friendships at the time, the distance between us eventually won out.

Other friendships ended over a particular circumstance: a difference of opinion, a difference in values, something a little more substantial.  Sometimes these friendships were easily dismissed and other times the termination of the friendship hurt deeply.

The friends that were in my life for a moment remind me of annuals.  They were beautiful and filled in and complimented the garden of my life for a season.

Then, there are those friendships that are so deep, so intertwined, time and distance mean absolutely nothing.  You may see these friends daily, you may go years between seeing them, but when you are together, your friendship and connection never misses a beat.  You would do anything for them, and the feeling is mutual.  They are there to uplift, comfort, support, encourage, and celebrate you.  They are there for you through thick and thin, year after year.

These enduring friendships remind me of perennials.  Their beauty shows up year after year.  They are faithful and always there for you.  Even though they may not be blooming all year long, you know they will be back, ready to show up and delight you.

As I reflect on those “annual friendships,” I’ve decided not to feel bad about them fading away or ending.  Just like annual flowers, who fill in your garden for a season, those friends were there for me when I needed them.  Maybe they were never intended to be long-term friendships.  I am thankful for the gift of them, what they brought to my life and hopefully what I was able to contribute to their lives for the season we had together.

All friendships should be celebrated, no matter how short lived or permanent they are in our lives.  In the same way, every flower is a gift from the earth to beautify our world and fill us with joy.

 

 

Memorable Lessons – Thanks, Dad!

Memorable Lessons – Thanks, Dad!

Do you have one or two special memories, lessons learned, from a parent or special teacher that stay with you and make you smile years later?

I have one that I’d love to share.

My father is a deeply spiritual man, but it’s funny to me that my favorite memories of him have nothing to do with that side of him. They are the more down to earth, simply being a good human, lessons that I remember and cherish the most.

I was in high school and he had taken me to the eye doctor to be fitted for contact lenses (YAY!!). We were seeing a Navy doctor and both the doctor and my Dad were in uniform at the time of my appointment.  I remember the doctor asking my father a question and when my Dad replied, he called the doctor, “Sir”. To which the Navy doc politely told my Dad that he didn’t have to call him “Sir” as they were the same rank.

Now let me pause here for a second…..if you aren’t familiar with the military, ranks structures vary between the different branches of the service. And I was thinking, “Did he just insult my Dad by implying that my Dad didn’t realize they were indeed the same rank?”  Not cool in my mind.

But my Dad proceeded to politely tell the doctor that the reason he referred to him as “Sir” was out of respect for his position as a Doctor – not because of his military rank.

For some reason, the level of respect my Dad had when dealing with that Doctor, and the classy way he responded and explained himself to him, struck me then…

And continues to put a smile on my face all these years later.

Disclaimer: I do NOT have a good memory and I know I have forgotten many fine examples and lessons taught to me – by his actions, rather than his words – by my father. For some reason, this one remains one of my cherished memories of time spent with my Dad. And I bet he has NO recollection of this exchange of words.

Note to self: You never know who is watching/listening/learning to/from your words and actions.

Why a Military Spouse Should Be Your Next Hire

Why a Military Spouse Should Be Your Next Hire

Customer Service Representative
Cashier
Aerobics Instructor
Accounts Receivable Representative
Mortgage Loan Processor
C-Level Administrative Assistant
Recruiter
Copy Writer
Substitute Teacher
Sourcing Manager
Independent Skincare Consultant

What in the heck do these job titles have in common?  At first glance, I’d say nothing at all.  

But then I’d look closer.  If I’m looking at the skills and attributes required to master these different roles, I note that strong communications skills, attention to detail, a fun, outgoing and motivated personality are probably in play.  I see a “people person” in the mix. I see a no-nonsense, get it done, figure it out type of a person. I see somebody who likes helping others.  

If I’m looking at this list with my recruiting hat on, I’m very confused if this list appears on a single person’s resume.  I don’t see a clear, defined career path. The roles don’t appear to build on top of each other or even stay in the same career field.   

When I look at this list with my own eyes, from my own personal perspective, I see a military spouse’s resume!  I see my resume.    

Not familiar with us –  the military spouse? She (or in some cases “he”, but for the point of this article, we’ll call her a “she”) is that person who very frequently gives up her own career ambitions to follow her spouse around from duty station to duty station, supporting his career and call of duty to serve his country.  She willingly leaves a job she loves to move on with her spouse. She sets up the household, settles the kids into new schools and neighborhoods, reestablishes herself, and finds a new job time and again. Or maybe she doesn’t work outside of the home. There is plenty to do simply keeping the home front running and thriving!  

She is many things!  She is a self-starter.  She is a jack of all trades.  She is organized. She is resilient.  She is the queen of dealing with change.  She is patient (ever dealt with military orders, moves?).  She is strong. She is reliable. She is your best friend, your support, your shoulder to lean or cry on.  She is your neighbor. She is your “it’s perfectly fine to call me in the middle of the night if you need anything” person.  She is the “I’ll stay with your kids if you need some time to yourself or a date night” kind of friend. She’s the “I’ll figure it out and make it happen” gal you want on your team. 

If you are an employer reading this, or have any hiring authority within your organization, please re-read the qualities listed above.  THIS is the employee you want to hire! Sure, you may only have them on your team for 2-3 years, but I assure you, their loyalty and reliability will not disappoint and you’ll have a wonderful addition to your organization for those few years.  And let’s face it, that’s more than you can expect from the average hire. With the military spouse, you know to expect the attrition at some point. But here’s the thing, you usually know when to expect it and receive more than adequate notice to hire their replacement.  I was personally able to train my replacement on more than one occasion. You are never guaranteed the longevity of employment with any hire, but I’d put my money on the military spouse every – single – time.    

 

Being A Military Spouse Taught Me…

Being A Military Spouse Taught Me…

Recently I found myself reminiscing about a job I held WAY BACK IN THE DAY – 28 years ago to be exact!

Quite frankly, I’m marveling at my own bravery.

I was NOT athletic as a child.  Not much interest, old school thinking parents and a dad with a strict dress code were some of the reasons I just never gave anything athletic a try.

Then when I went to college I started running on my own. It wasn’t an intense training schedule, but a few times a week you could find me heading out for a jog.  I was interested in attending aerobics classes, many of my friends did, but when I’d peek in at them, everybody seemed to know what they were doing and I felt too intimated to venture in, so I didn’t.

Fast forward a few years.

I marry a US Marine, move on base, don’t have a job at the moment, and have a lot of time on my hands. So, I finally decide to step out of my comfort and start attending a morning aerobics class.

Guess what? I loved it and start attending several times per week. I thought I may – one day – even like to teach it. I stayed after class one morning to talk with my instructor to ask her how one would go about getting certified to teach. As it turns out, the “Semper Fit” program on base was looking to hire some additional instructors and the next thing I know she is offering to train me.

So just three short months after taking my FIRST aerobics class EVER, I was in front of a class team teaching!

CRAZY! That took a lot of SELF-CONFIDENCE and I’m really not sure where my 23 year old self pulled it from! But I did it.

📌 The point of this memory is to point out that YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS. YOU CAN DO SCARY THINGS. YOU CAN, and should, STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.

📌 Stepping out of my comfort zone, asking for the opportunity, welcoming the new person, heck, making the phone call to introduce myself when I WAS THE NEW PERSON are all skills that I mastered by being a military spouse!

📌 In case you didn’t realize….military spouses kick a$$ and I’m thankful for the opportunity to have been one!

Create Your Own Community

Create Your Own Community

We’ve all heard the expression, “Kids say the darnedest things”, right?

Sometimes those things are embarrassing, sometimes hilarious, sometimes they sting (due to the truth behind them), and sometimes they really get the wheels spinning in your head.

“Mom, you don’t have any friends.”

Ouch!  While said in jest by my teenage daughter a few years ago, this was one of those times where the wheels started spinning!  I know she was just teasing me, but the statement was truly instrumental in me making some major life changes.

For starters, it made me take a long, hard look at my j-o-b.  While my day-to-day job was fine, I enjoyed it for the most part, the company, and overall industry that I supported, was simply not one I was proud of.  I looked around and noticed that I was giving  much  more of my energy to an employer that I didn’t enjoy or trust, spent more  time with people that I was basically assigned to partner with, than my own family.  I felt my priorities were out of the alignment with what I was wanting for my life.

Fast forward to leaving that employer, and the corporate world all together, and entering the world of entrepreneurism.  Now I get to partner, collaborate, and surround myself with people of my own choosing and it is simply refreshing!

In the course of networking and building my business, I befriended a woman and we started chatting occasionally and meeting for coffee every few months.  During one of those coffee dates, we started talking about networking, as she had recently embarked on a new business venture of her own.  Each of us were looking for ways to increase our reach, meet more people, make new friends.

A few coffee dates later, an idea was born to start a local women’s group!  At first, we were focusing on networking.  That made sense for two new entrepreneurs, right?  But in one of our brainstorming sessions, the question arose, “What would make you want to go out in the evening, say after a long day of work?”  For me the answer was quite simple, and it wasn’t to attend yet another formal networking group.  It was simply to meet new people and form new friendships.  (Remember, “Mom, you don’t have any friends” was lingering in the back of my brain!)

I think as grown women, it is sometimes difficult to make new friends.  As a military spouse, I’ve been forced to figure it out, otherwise I would have led a very lonely adult life.  But for many women, they simply go to work, take care of their family, and that’s it.  They may be friends with neighbors and other moms from their children’s various sport teams, but again, those “friendships” may feel forced, the same way work colleagues often feel.  The connections are made for you and are not necessarily of your choosing.

So, we sat down and drafted a mission statement:  We are a fun and caring community of local women coming together to develop friendships, share ideas, support, encourage, and network.  We decided on a name, had a friend design a logo, threw up a Facebook page, and started planning events.  BOOM, it truly was that simple, Chick Clique was born!

If you are in any type of relationship driven business, expanding your reach and making new connections is essential.  For me, I’m not simply looking to meet people to give my “pitch” to.  I’m looking to make real connections with people, get to know them, listen to their needs, their frustrations, their dreams, etc.  If I can help by offering one of my services or products to them, that is great.  If not, that is fine too.  My hope is that I’ve developed a new friendship, or in the very least, been a resource to them, instrumental in them meeting new people and developing their own new friendships, uplifting and encouraging them along the way.

So, the next time your child says something to you that strikes a nerve, sit with it for a while.  Ponder whether that message was sent to you for a reason.  I know my life has been enriched in the few short months since starting this local women’s social group.  The “icing on the cake” for me is when other women thank me for starting this group, organizing our events, etc.  I’ve realized that I was not the only woman craving a community of fun and caring women looking to develop friendships, share ideas, support and encourage each other.

To learn more about our group and upcoming events, visit our Facebook page here.   To learn more about the author and to follow her blog, visit bloomwithbec.com.   

What Does Empathy Have To Do With Moving?

What Does Empathy Have To Do With Moving?

Empathy.

The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

To some people, empathy comes easily.  To others, it is a completely foreign concept.

Have you known (or perhaps this describes you) somebody who just knows their way is the right way?  They aren’t even willing to entertain the feelings or opinions of others.  They can be tough to get along with, to work with, to live with.

I seek to take the feelings, ideas, and opinions of others into consideration as I go through my day-to-day life.  I must admit, however, some days this is easier to accomplish than others.

Keep in mind, people can experience the exact same event, yet have vastly different reactions or opinions of the event!  Think of a sporting event where there is a clear winning team and a clear losing team.  Same event, but very different experiences for players and fans, right??  Or how about a movie with your kids?  They come out thinking it was the best movie EVER and you slept through half of it (I may be speaking from experience here!).

One example that comes to mind to me, from my years as a military spouse is moving!  A change in duty station to my husband meant a new job, new command, new boss, new mission, and all the logistics involved with relocating the family.  To me it meant organizing the house for the move, supervising the packing, unpacking the house, doing countless  address changes, setting up the utilities, registering the vehicles, getting the kids settled into a new school, finding a new doctor, vet, hair stylist, etc.

To my kids, when they were little, it meant staying in hotels (sometimes with a swimming pool!), a road trip, new games/crafts for traveling, picking out their new room, and playing in the boxes at the new house.  It also meant making new friends!   I don’t want to downplay any stress involved with moving as a military child.  It also meant saying goodbye to friends and a familiar school.  But as a military child myself, I do speak from experience, the adventure outweighed the anxiety I might have felt.

Just because you have gone through  a similar experience as somebody else, don’t ever for a moment think that you know exactly what they are going through.  We all have our own set of beliefs and past experiences that mold our frame of reference.  Back to the example of military moves, what might be fun and exciting to me may be traumatic for another person.

The best way to understand what somebody is going through is to ask them.  Check in with your friends and loved ones to see how they are doing.  Ask them how they are feeling.  Extend this same curiosity and courtesy to strangers.  You never know whose spirits you may lift by simply asking them how their day is going.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes.  Ask them how they are, then try to understand from their perspective.  In doing so, you will be able to extend more grace to others, yourself, and hopefully come away with more acceptance and a grateful heart.