Thursday, November 15, 2012


Life is a convergence of things, both large and small.

Last week I ran into the library. In my usual fashion, I buzzed in to return a few things. While there, and within five minutes, I chose four more books. One for me, and one each for my three children.

Sometimes I hit a homerun with my fast grabs, and sometimes I don’t. But I figure, they’re from the library, and who cares if I mis-choose? I’ll just return the rejects and try again.

Often these days when I introduce something (anything?) to my son, who is now thirteen, I am met with either straight out rejection, or at least cynicism. This time, I merely placed the book in his room. I let him know it was there (about five or six times), before he asked on Monday, “Mom, where’s that book?” in what I fathom to be a moment of desperation.

We spend a lot of time in the car travelling to and from after-school activities. Nothing is close by. It takes us forty minutes to get to and from swim practice five times a week. So my kids have learned to dive into books. We all do.

Recently during a different “fast grab” library hit-and-run, I picked up “Born to Run” on tape by Christopher McDougall. In what may just be the longest running slump in my lifetime, I found great pleasure in listening to this book during my week of multiple pool runs. A few days into it, my daughter asked, “Are you ready to listen?”

I was thrilled she seemed to be getting something out of the book as well. Even the other kids in the car who catch a lift with me asked about the book after I finished it. Hmmmm…. This might be a new trend….

By the way, books on tape to which I haven’t previously read come with pitfalls. Warning — to all would-be listeners, there are some patchy language/theme spots.

 “EARMUFFS!” I yelled whenever we hit a rough patch.

So on Tuesday, just a day after my son “discovered” the book I chose for him, I looked down at his place marker and realized he was almost to the end.

We were once again about to leave for swim team.

I asked, “How late were you up reading last night?”

“I dunno, maybe two…”

“Two am?!&(*&(&^. Great son.” This I said as we walked into practice, where, after a full day of school and after-school activities, he was about to lay down a time for the 800 free to qualify for champs.

But secretly, I was thrilled that he obviously enjoyed something I introduced to him. It doesn’t always happen. I’ll take the small victories.

Today, I picked up the book in anticipation of returning it and instead began reading. I can’t put it down, either.

 “The Warriors Heart,” by Eric Greitens is a great read. Written with young people in mind, it is an adaptation of Greitens’ work, “The Heart and the Fist.”

Coincidentally, Monday was Veterans Day. I read a lot of expressions of the day. But wasn't sure how to express my own thoughts. Now I do.

Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, founded an organization called The Mission Continues. It is an organization, which utilizes the strength and courage of retired veterans in service projects around the United States for people in need.

Greitens’ non-profit organization helps bridge the misconception many Americans have about our service veterans, while initiating and funding continued service closer to home. Check it out.

Check out his book, too.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Sometimes, as a military spouse, I feel things differently. Not because I’m particularly special in any way, no, it’s more due to the environment in which I find myself, this day, now. It is different. Some variances are subtle, others, more profound.

I write — simply because I have to in order to make sense of my world. It is how I negotiate my way through life. I blog — I’m beginning to understand —because it is my effort to bridge the divide between the civilian world (where I came from), and my military existence (where I am now). I equate it to carefully placing messages in bottles (I see wine bottles), and sending them off to sea; wondering who might be on the receiving end on the other side of the ocean.

Where I am now is living in a country where Thanksgiving isn’t a national holiday. But we Americans who live here find a way to celebrate, anyway, even if the turkeys aren’t quite plump enough for table, just yet.

Instead of celebrating and giving thanks for natures bounty, for country, for each other, the British have fun with Guy Fawkes each November. With typical British bent, the folks here town after town, light bonfires and fireworks, in tribute to a man who failed to overthrow the government. He was instead executed after the failed “Gunpowder Plot” of 1604.

Our fireworks celebrate independence. Theirs celebrate botched rebellion. Both were born out of giving thanks. But it is different. I guess, it is England’s way of giving thanks for what “might’ve been” — the then British government as they knew it, the monarchy, in shambles.

I see many who post things for which they are thankful.

I am thankful to represent my country, alongside my spouse who actively serves. But I’m not sure this morning my country quite understands the sacrifices made by so many to support the foundations of freedom. We are a nation in crisis. Only time will reveal the reality of our choices.

The United States resembles ever more the European model from which we fought so hard to be independent and free.

These are confusing times. I watch from afar. In order to make sense of where and who we are as a nation, I went in search of the founding principles. I needed to re-visit. I wish to understand …

… Four years ago, I wasn't so far away from the president, in all respects. We lived exactly eight miles from the White House. I rode my bike down to the National Mall to listen to Obama’s inauguration. Yo Yo Ma’s fingers froze. So did my A*&. It was cold. But that didn’t do anything to quelch the energy emanating from the crowd. I felt it. It was intoxicating. I blanketed myself in the word of the day — hope.

I don’t feel that today. Today I bundle up to run into the woods — away from the confusion these last four years have created, where I feel free.

I believe leadership is largely demonstrated in actions, not words. I’ve watched closely every chance I get to President Obama’s mannerisms, his physicality. He seems most comfortable in the limelight. He loves the spotlight, and he performs well, there. I often wonder how he functions when he’s not on stage. When his propensity to pontificate isn't on call, but instead his ability to make decisions as the commander in charge.

The founding fathers did not intend for presidential elections to be popularity contests. Did Obama win because he is popular — because he sidles easily next to  David Letterman and alongside Bruce Springsteen?

Did he win the election because he has demonstrated he is a good leader?

I watched Obama and Biden pass each other on stage yesterday. They each bit their lips and gave each other the “got ya” point with their fingers, fashioning their hands in the shape of a gun and thumbing the trigger. Obama’s agenda gives me pause. Biden simply gives me goosebumps.

I couldn’t help imagining this same gesture, only pointed toward our strength as a nation, our freedom as individuals, and the constitution as we know it (this term, Obama will most likely be responsible for replacing not one, but two US Supreme Court justices.).

I trust the constructs of our government to remain sound.  What is for certain in my mind is this —the legacy of this president will no longer balance on top of another administration’s back. He will have only himself to hold accountable for our country in four years, and in that time, I wonder where we’ll find ourselves as a nation. This time I watch from afar.

This time, into the woods I bound alone, away from the crowds; away from an uncertain leader in uncertain times.

"I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government.." — Henry David Thoreau