Thursday, October 27, 2011

Overcoming and being content

I know, simple post title.  But it's how I feel right now.  Happy.  Content.  I don't think it's necessarily that everything is perfect, though there is really nothing wrong; rather, it's that I have learned how to be content despite imperfections.  Because really, when is anything ever perfect?  There will always be something wrong if you look for it.  Perhaps one of the greatest lessons I've learned in the past year and a half is that to be really content, you can't rely on outside circumstances.  Maybe this is partially a result of spending hours a day in my psychology classes in my final year as a cadet: counseling, social psychology, positive psychology, etc.  All of those classes focused at least a little on the effect that your reactions to your surroundings have on your overall well-being.  Particularly counseling and my capstone class, which focused on positive psychology (resiliency, etc.).  Counseling was basically a deeper look at myself.  I know some people did not like that course, and at times I had mixed feelings... It was actually one of my lowest grades in my major, but it probably taught me more about myself than any other class at the Academy, and for that I am glad I took it.

There have been times when I wasn't so good at seeing challenges and imperfections as chances to grow.  I wanted things to be right - all the time - and I struggled with dealing with situations when things weren't perfect.  You can imagine how difficult that was for me at West Point, where they purposely try to put you through situations where you can't possibly be right all the time.  Where no matter how hard you try, you will not always get the results you want (minus a few select people who sat in the front rows of graduation, hehe)  Well, it worked.  After three years I finally figured out how to deal with things going wrong.  It's not to shut down or get depressed, and it's not to get angry... It's to change my thought process.   To work harder at what the areas that I DO have an influence on... and to let the things I can't do anything about slide - just a little.

On another similar note, I will be moving into my new apartment tomorrow afternoon :)  I'm excited to see it with the refinished floors :)  Sometimes I guess it pays off to be personable because my landlord (landlady?) was willing to do a lot to get me as a tenant because she really liked me.  She has said several times that "God has blessed her" with good tenants recently.  She's even going to have me and the other new tenant (from Syria... she is in the U.S. for a couple of months for medical school or something) over for dinner one night.  It will be nice to meet some of the people living in the floor above me :)

Alas, I will try to avoid rambling.  Good night all. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What environment is best for writing?

I've been working an answering some questions about myself for a feature based on my "Women and the Military" post and I'm trying to figure out, what type of environment is best for writing?  Open, honest writing.  I know professional writers will often lock themselves away and write... After all, there is nothing to break your concentration.  Actually, I write many of my blogs in this type of setting.  Unfortunately, I also do not publish most of them because I am afraid they reveal TOO much of myself.  When is it too much?  When does it stop making sense?  I know some of my blogs get pretty in depth in relation to my thoughts and feelings.  This is awesome for a journal, but how honest is too honest?  What do people REALLY want to know?  These are questions I ask myself when I am about to publish a blog entry.  Of course, I only have six followers (haha), so I'm nowhere NEAR a professional writer, BUT some people DO read what I write, so I have to ask... what is better?  Sitting and writing and letting all of my thoughts come out, or writing for a bit, and stepping back, then sitting back down and writing again after deleting at least three paragraphs because I am afraid they are rambling?

I can tell you that for academic writing a combination of the two is the best.  Some of my best papers were written in one night... BUT, I sat back and looked at them again to fix the errors that inevitably occur when your writing becomes a stream of consciousness.  Such as my frequent lack of paragraphs when I write blog entries ;)

Readers, what do you prefer?  Long, honest blogs (that actually discuss something of substance, of course), or shorter, more straight to the point?  What type of environment do you like to write in?  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Life here so far (in my first week)

Completely unrelated to my last blog post...

I've been able to run again!  Wait, did I mention that all ready?  I don't know.  Anyways, it's awesome because the running out here is awesome.  Long country roads and trails, and all sorts of new stuff to explore!  I love it!  And while I'm REALLY not looking forward to having to run in temperatures barely over 0 degrees (which I guess I did at West Point a couple of times, though I usually stuck to the treadmill when it got REALLY cold), I AM looking forward to engaging in some snow sports (skiing, snow-shoeing, etc.)

Also, I should state that the people up here are not rude as they were down at West Point, at least as far as I've noticed.  So far everyone I have met has been friendly and nice... I will say that most people down closer to NYC definitely fit into the typical New Yorker stereotype of being rude.  Most people I've met here are nicer than they were down in South Carolina for the most part.  Almost everyone I've met while out and about actually talks to me and asks me questions.  People say that's how people in the South are, but I didn't see it much.

Now, I just need to actually report to my unit, which has not yet happened because I basically got ten free days of leave to look for a place to live.  Well, I realized last night when I was reading up on the regulation that these days are not actually FREE... the money I'm paying to stay in this hotel will not be reimbursed.  While my leave days are not being taken up, I am not serving any purpose to the government by sitting here looking for a place to live.  Fortunately, I WILL be getting more money for housing.

Anyway,  just an update on life.  Can't wait to move into my apartment.  On another note:  I read more people's responses to the SMA's Facebook posts about uniform changes.  I just cannot understand why people think makeup is a distraction or how it makes us "unequal"... I mean, I bet men COULD fight for makeup, but really, how many would want to wear it?  It would look silly unless it was just cover up or something (and nobody would say anything about it if a guy DID wear cover up). And it takes maybe five minutes to put it on (if you're me I guess).  Hardly a distraction.  But you all know my opinions on that matter... I just get more heated about it everytime I read that post...  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Women and the Military

Last night I was reading the Army Times and came across a couple of articles that sparked this blog.  One was women in combat, and two were uniform changes.  I won't get into the women in combat article because it's something that has been debated many times.  Some of you know my thoughts on that matter, and if you're interested in knowing more, I can write about that.

The other topic, the uniform standard, is one that has always gotten to me.  Or rather, the reaction that people have to  females being feminine in the military.  Perhaps this issue frustrates me because I am one of those females who does wear makeup, and nail polish (sometimes), and who likes to "look pretty" as some might say.  However, my makeup is always in neutral colors, as are my nails.  There was once a time when I wore too much makeup (back in my junior-enlisted days), but that is something that leadership needs to correct, not something a regulation should prohibit because a few people don't think females in the Army should be feminine.  What irks me most about people who state that females joined the Army and that they knew what they were getting into (some comments on the Sergeant Major of the Army's (SMA) Facebook page, and in the Army Times!) is that I do not see how being feminine affects someone's ability to do their job.  Being in the Army should not mean that females should have to look like males.  Males are allowed to look masculine, and in our society, it is more professional for a male to have shorter hair.  As I stated on my comment on the SMA's page, the Army's emphasis on looking professional generally imitates civilian society's ideals on what looks professional, but is a more conservative version of it.  I don't think that females should be wearing bright red nail polish, or super heavy makeup, but I wouldn't think that would look professional in a civilian workplace either.  Just like I don't think long hair looks professional on men, though I do think that high and tights are unnecessary, and that the Army could loosen up a bit on male hair standards, or rather certain units could stop making high and tights the standard.  

 A couple of comments about makeup and such seemed to point to the argument about equality between the sexes in the military, and that we as women have fought hard to be equal, but makeup basically destroys that.  I do agree we should be treated equally, but EQUAL does not mean that men and women are the exact same.  We should be treated equally in the sense that we are treated based on how well we do our job, regardless of how we look.  We are NOT the same.  It is like saying that males in a predominately feminine field such as nursing, for example, should have to get manicures in order to be treated "equally." Both men and women bring something different to the Army, and because a female wears makeup does not mean that she is incapable of being in the Army and performing well.  Personally, while I wear makeup, and sometimes have my nails painted, you will never hear me complain of a "broken nail," (though I did have a toenail falling off from all of the running I was doing that affected my PT one morning!) or see me avoiding certain things just because I am going to mess up a manicure.  If THAT is what the Army is afraid of, then they need to address the individuals doing these things, NOT all females in the military.  It is the same regarding males who are incapable of their job.  Gender should have nothing to do with this.  

Being feminine does not equal being weak, nor does it equal laziness, an inability to do the job, or expecting everyone else to do their job.  These are all things I heard while enlisted and while at West Point.  It is not this way in the civilian world, so why should people assume it is this way in the military?  Sadly, so many men think that because a female is not as physically strong as a male or because they like to look feminine (the same as most males like looking masculine) that they can't bring much to the military.   As a matter of fact, I can remember when I was enlisted and I would be on some detail moving stuff around, trying to stay busy, while some of my male counterparts were hiding in the corner because they didn't want to work.  I would NEVER do that, and if I did, people would assume I was doing it because I was a lazy female rather than because I was just a dirt bag.   When a male is lazy, it's individual, but when a female is lazy, it's because she's a female.  There are some things I am not as physically capable of  (at 5'1" and 113 pounds, carrying around heavy rucksacks is not easy for me, though I can usually keep up, it just takes me more effort than someone bigger), but that has no bearing on my ability to do a good job.  Anyway, I can still outrun, outpush, and out pull-up a lot of the guys :)  

Anyways, I know that was a little all-over the place.  Probably because these are areas I feel strongly about.  I do think that people's opinions on appearances tend to reflect the general attitude that the Army has about females in the Army and their role in the Army.  The opinion seems to be that if females are not a direct reflection of males, both in appearances and in physical capabilities, that they are less capable of their jobs.  My opinion is that males and females are not the exact same (which is why I'm not so sure about females being in the infantry, though I do think they can bring something to those units if they are attached... there's a small snippet on my opinion on that matter), but that does not mean they are not both capable of doing great at their perspective roles in the Army.  

Thoughts?  I'd be interested to see some opinions.  I know I've gotten into some pretty heated debates over this with people I know. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I'm back! In New York

I'm back in New York!  And I must say, I've missed the scenery up here.  I really really don't like the South... at least not the area I was in!  There were some nice places, such as Charleston, and Atlanta was a really cool place to visit - particularly the Midtown area.  Also some of the metro areas around Atlanta (like where I did the trail half marathon!) were nice. I loved Destin, but I still don't really count that as the South :)  But for the most part, I'm not really much of a Southern girl.  I'm really excited to run on these country roads out here!  Just waiting for this hip thing to disappear... Actually it doesn't really hurt today, and didn't really bother me last night, so I kind of want to do an easy run this morning!  I dunno though.... I'm afraid to re-aggravate it!  It doesn't hurt WHILE I'm running, just while I'm sitting/sleeping AFTER I've run.  I really should've taken a couple of days off when it FIRST started bothering me (I guess after my speed workout two weeks ago, but I DID take  A day off.  I assumed I was just still sore).  It wasn't until two Sundays ago that it started getting to the point where sitting was hurting, and then I took quite a bit of time off.  It's been two weeks since I've done anything over four miles, and a week and a half (LAST Wednesday) since I've done ANY running at all.  And that was a slow four miles on the treadmill.  Trying to be smart about it this time :)

Anyways, I got off track.  It looks like there are some great running places around here.. woohoo!  That's what I looked at while driving, hahaha.  Lots of country roads with wide shoulders (and trails and stuff too).  The Adironacks are very close - within an hour drive, and I still want to check out the Ontario lake area (1000 islands region!).  Very pretty from the pictures!  I love all of the snowmobile signs out where I am planning to move.  Speaking of which...

Well, I've been apartment hunting, and I found one I like.  I really wanted to live out by the water, but there really is NOTHING out there, at least not for under 1000 a month - BEFORE utilities.  There are two apartment complexes, and they are completely booked up.  I have actually been using Craigslist, and have met a few different landlords.  Why you might ask would I want to do that?  Well, number one, I actually get to LOOK at the place before I move in...  2) I don't want to move in somewhere with lots of screaming children and people people constantly fighting right next door to me all the time and 3) They are more personal and I can work with private landlords better.  I didn't like dealing with apartment complexes... most have such high demand because housing out here is difficult to find that they weren't very helpful.  Customer service is important!  One of the areas I've heard is really nice would be good, but... more money than I want to spend!  With utilities it would be over what I get for housing, and I'm trying to avoid doing that.  

The tenants I've talked to in both of the places I was interested in really liked their landlords and really liked the setup, so a major plus!  Anyways, the place I am very interested in is need of a little fixing-up, but she said she will have that done in the next week when the current tenants move (most of their stuff was out yesterday when I came through).  I asked her to give me a call when the renovations are completely (refinish the hardwood floor/wash the carpet/ put some paint on a few places)  The upstairs area where she rents private rooms where they share the kitchen/etc. is very nice, the floor is nice, everything looks good, so I trust it will be done accordingly downstairs!  She REALLY wants me as a tenant.  She said the current ones in the apartment were not so good, and I think she likes that I'm an officer (and therefore will pay my rent on time every month - I guess the current ones weren't so good about that) and also I apparently remind her of her daughters, lol.    The other people living in the upstairs area are also military.  So, I would be getting a two-bedroom apartment with a deck outside, a yard (deck and yard are shared... though I doubt I'll be using them in  couple of months with the snow!), a garage, heat and utilities for 775 a month.  The heat thing is hugely important around here because it can add a good 200 dollars to utilities every month.  And it's big enough I can fix it up the way I want.  And with that price, I can afford to buy some good furniture!  The area isn't super close to work, but then again, most areas aren't.  It's not too bad though, about 15-20 minutes.  It's in a village, and seems quiet.  Oh, and there are two state forests maybe three miles down the road.  That's pretty good for me :)

 I stayed with a couple of people along the way up, including one of my closest friends (my roommate my last semester at school!)  It was a great way to get to visit, considering what a long trip it is :)  

Well, sort of abrupt ending, but that is all I have to say for now.  I know it has been a little bit of time since I have last updated, so I felt it was due.