This Poem Reminded Me How Love Feels

I’ve stepped away from poetry. I don’t really have a good reason why, but most likely it’s because of the novel. But this crawled right into my heart and made a romantic out of me. I have to share it because there’s always room for romantic love poetry.

by David Whyte

There is a faith in loving fiercely
the one who is rightfully yours,
especially if you have
waited years and especially
if part of you never believed
you could deserve this
loved and beckoning hand
held out to you this way.

I am thinking of faith now
and the testaments of loneliness
and what we feel we are
worthy of in this world.

Years ago in the Hebrides,
I remember an old man
who walked every morning
on the grey stones
to the shore of baying seals,
who would press his hat
to his chest in the blustering
salt wind and say his prayer
to the turbulent Jesus
hidden in the water,

and I think of the story
of the storm and everyone
waking and seeing
the distant
yet familiar figure
far across the water
calling to them

and how we are all
preparing for that
abrupt waking,
and that calling,
and that moment
we have to say yes,
except it will
not come so grandly
so Biblically
but more subtly
and intimately in the face
of the one you know
you have to love

so that when
we finally step out of the boat
toward them, we find
everything holds
us, and everything confirms
our courage, and if you wanted
to drown you could,
but you don’t
because finally
after all this struggle
and all these years
you simply don’t want to
any more
you’ve simply had enough
of drowning
and you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness
however fluid and however
dangerous to take the
one hand you know
belongs in yours.

Call to Action

Part six

Ways you can show veterans and their families grace

Community Endeavors

Help veterans find their voice, advocate until then.

  • Show them when it’s ok to say no in the civilian workforce.
  • Give them a variety times and spaces to express themselves in healthy ways.
  • Organize spaces and places where veterans can feel safe to talk about their needs

In the workplace

  • Don’t use criticism, if necessary use constructively be clear on objective at hand (chances are they are beating themselves for things they’ve never spoken about.) I can also guarantee you their drill sergeant is still in their head.
  • Use onboarding process to set initial goals and expectations. Do not move goal post without clear warning and as a bonus give time for individual to process the change. Some individuals may not need much time at all, others may be plagued with anxiety due to a change in their environment
  • Positive reinforcement should be well-timed, intentional, and done regularly
  • Family has to be number one priority for military spouses they often are expected to manage the household alone
  • Read and listen to understand the negative and positive impacts of domestic duties on stay at home parents. Don’t stop there, when you’re finished, read and listen to understand the negative and positive impacts on military spouses
  • Be kind
  • Research, attend workshops, and talk about the complexities of military life so that we can make sure workplaces are successful environments for military and their families
  • Consult a veterans committee or board before implementing new expectations in the workplace. This is to make sure it is beneficial to the service member or their spouse. Believe them when they give you feedback.

Connections -Friendships

  • Get out together Coffee, Breakfast, Car rides
  • Meet virtually when there’s distance. Make a visit if you can when you can
  • Set clear and firm boundaries from the start then be consistent. Do not ignore or excuse abusive talk or behaviors.
  • Let them change and evolve as they learn and grow
  • Include them in group outings even if you know they won’t want to go
  • Be intentional and mindful

So let’s recap: Suicide among our service members is disproportionately high, employment among our military spouses is disproportionately low. We have community organizations committed to ensuring the success of our service members. And we have to do that without causing burnout in those organizations or we will exasperate the problem.

I close with this, until military suicide subsides and military spouses are equally employed, it is imperative that we show our service members and their families grace inside and outside of the workplace. In order for organizations to truly support and solve these two problems, the entire network must work together to avoid the devastating effects of burnout.

Grace for Our Veterans and their Families

Part four

Veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than nonveteran adults. 

American Psychology Association

Here’s a link to VA stats if you’d like to look more into the numbers when it comes to Veteran suicide.

But don’t lose hope, 2020 had the lowest number of Veteran suicides since 2006!

According to the VA, “The overall downward trends in Veteran suicide in 2019 and 2020 are encouraging. They followed VA’s launch of the 2018 National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide (National Strategy). This was built upon the foundation of the U.S. Surgeon General’s and National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.”

From the CDC: Comprehensive suicide prevention requires the coordination of public health, healthcare, jobs and economic development, education, housing and other sectors. One key role for public health is to bring these partners together to focus on comprehensive state and community efforts with the greatest likelihood of preventing suicide. Such an approach focuses both upstream, to prevent people from becoming suicidal in the first place, as well as addressing the needs of people at risk by connecting them to services and supports. 

We should be working together collectively to lower these numbers.

For whom the Bell Tolls

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Top Three Priorities

Part three

I have to share one of my most favorite moments back when I supported my bestie founded the nonprofit to support veterans. One day, at our local coffee shop, we simply explained our dreams and goals for the nonprofit and how important it was to us that veterans be connected in a safe place to the resources they need to live a successful life. Successful as in housed, employed, and healthy – you know, basic human needs. The person she shared her vision with happened to be a veteran. After listening, he could barely respond because he was so choked up about how important it was. After a moment, he explained that when he came back from war, him and his fellow service members received nothing. Especially not anything to support their transition back into civilian life. This entire plan that Melissa began to strategize, was a new concept for him. Grace for him and his fellow service members was something he didn’t get to experience when he came home and he knew it was missing.

Now we gotta switch gears for a moment. Let’s talk about nonprofits. I’m new to founding and residing over the board of a nonprofit, but I’m not at all new to the nonprofit sector. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it until I see change. Nonprofit work has THE BIGGEST burnout rate in the business world. A clear indicator that things need to change.

Ok ok, let’s connect the dots. We have two new concepts. First new concept: Set up organizations designed to show grace to our service members and their families.

Second new concept: We need to progress toward a lower burnout rate in the nonprofit sector which is most likely the business type used to create strong support systems for veterans and their families.

Let’s just say it, we are progressivists taking on a new frontier. ::deep sigh:: So proud be part of it.

Top three priorities:

  1. Increase employment among military spouses
  2. Avoid burnout while trying to solve these problems
  3. Rid military suicide -I’ll be talking more about this.

Share your thoughts in the comments and stay tuned for my next post titled Grace for our Service Members and their families.

Military Spouses

Part two

Military spouses have the highest rate of unemployment among all groups.

For the past decade, military spouses have experienced an unwavering unemployment rate of 22%, making it one of the highest unemployed demographics in the United States. 

US Chamber of Commerce Foundation

First things first, the workplace often becomes the only safe place for spouses who endure domestic abuse. It is often even more difficult for victims involved with the military to discuss and report abuse because of geographical isolation from friends and family and a concern that a report will jeopardize the job of the active duty personnel involved in the relationship. ( So getting spouses to work can save their lives.

We press on.

There’s many complexities when it comes to military spouses in the workplace that are mostly related to having to move around and sometimes at short notices. There’s the fact that if they have children, the children will be the non active duty or non military spouses responsibility. Especially when the service member is deployed. (Which has a entire different set of complexities.)

And this also doesn’t include the complexities of being a spouse, parent, and service member. There’s a lot here. For the sake of experience that I can speak on, lets focus on military families where only one spouse is military.

As a veteran spouse who has never served, it very often felt like he held me to a higher standard than those around us. I’m not saying this is military culture but it was clear from the beginning that me(a navy wife) leaving with all his money was an established fear among him and his shipmates before I came around. I’m not, nor have I ever been, a woman who is driven by money. I’m a words and actions type of girl. So I felt like I had to keep proving to him that his money is safe and that I’d never empty his bank account. When I married him, I came with two things, big dreams and a baby girl. I wanted to see both grow and bloom. However, the toll on my body due to several miscarriages made me physically exhausted, sacrificing my dreams to support the household really brought me down. That was never my plan. I even tried to fight the good fight by doing makeup to keep my hope alive. A hope that I could produce something and provide for my family in a substantial way. At the end of it all, I learned I was a writer and that makeup artistry wasn’t my calling. So I placed my dreams on hold and focused on improving as a housewife until it was my turn to chase my dreams. No matter how long I had to wait, I’d return to them. After consistently miscarrying for 5 years, I finally birthed my second baby girl. That’s when our marriage began to fall apart. Even before it fell apart, I was furious. I was furious at God, I was furious at my husband. I felt I had sacrificed EVERYTHING at that point. My dreams, my entire body from head to toe, my free time, And even then, it felt like it still wasn’t enough. Finally, I said enough is enough. It’s my turn! I took some intentional time to myself. Consistently set boundaries. Thankfully the writing community has brought me through all of this and so much more. We now have a sprouting marriage, and we’re BOTH parenting and working toward our dreams in unison.

I learned a lot but here’s two things: That his opinion and support truly impacted me in so many big and small ways. Second: I learned that when I tried to verbalize my feelings and people silenced me, I should have trusted myself more.

Studies show service member spouses tend to experience unemployment and underemployment at a significantly higher rate than their peers. Begin to think differently about the appearance of resume experience gaps, frequent job changes, and other relevant topics.

Disney Institute

And then after getting our marriage back on track, I sat in on the Veterans Institute presented by Disney and found out that I wasn’t the only one using entrepreneurship to keep my hope alive! Entrepreneurship among military spouses is the same way many spouses try to keep their hope alive and empower themselves. I was inspired to hear this! I even learned about a community supporting military entrepreneurship called The Rosey Network.

So I share all that to share this, spouse’s dreams are being worn down and whittled away while the family jumps through hoops to ensure their service member’s success. Let’s be clear, their service member’s success benefits more than just themselves, it benefits our entire country. And let me be clear one more time, I’m deeply honored to support it. The complexity is that it makes it hard for us to have space to choose ourselves.

So as a veteran spouse, I can’t speak for all military spouses but I can speak for myself when I ask my Veteran to let me live up to something great and be proud of me. I truly and deeply want to make you proud, not just because my legs look good in a dress or because I improve your chances of advancement. I want to make you proud because I’m good at my very own God given talents that are unique from your own. Support me as your spouse and let me be good at things even if they’re things that make you cringe. Be it loving academia, getting a bomb ass gpa, or wanting to go to school for the rest of my existence. I need your support more than I can often verbalize, no matter how strong and independent I seem.

Why Grace for Our Service Members and Their Families

Part One

Grace is a leadership quality we don’t talk about very much but it just might be the most important one as we enter the newest unknown.

Jill Griffin, I write about jobs, careers, board service, and the workplace.

I got an ad on my news feed from Disney Institute that said, “Optimize your organization’s hiring, training and support of military veterans and spouses,” and I was sold! I had my husband sign us up! Veteran Institute Summit presented by Disney was the most amazing training event I’ve ever been to. (Of course, it’s Disney.) To sum it up (because like most Disney things, you had to be there to get the whole feel), the number one call to action was to show Veterans and military spouses grace. I was honored to be able to sit alongside my husband while we joined in virtually. They didn’t record the zoom but I found a clip on youtube

And here’s a quote I really appreciated from their agenda,

“A diverse workforce requires a diverse approach to the genuine care of employees. It is not ‘one size fits all.'”

Throughout this week I’m going to briefly talk about service members, Veterans, and their spouses. I’m not a service member so there are aspects of military culture that I do not understand. But I do want to make sure that I do my part to advocate for those who may not have a voice and share some of my experiences as a veteran spouse.

Don’t just take my word for it, fact check me, ask a veteran, share your experiences. 😀

Naps on Saturday

I got to spend my saturday doing whatever I wanted! I haven’t had a completely free day in forever! So I definitely took the first nap I’ve taken in a long time. Makes me laugh because after all the years of miscarrying and needing to sleep, I’m relishing in all this extra energy I have. The nap wasn’t truly needed but in the name of a restful Saturday, I took my nap! Wahhoo!! My latest nonfiction read is about intelligence and AI. They haven’t mentioned the importance of naps when it comes to intelligence but I’m convinced people who nap, are more intelligent than those who don’t. Just kidding!! The funny thing about that joke is that the author has actually spends the first ten pages defining how the ways we have been measuring intelligence are mostly subpar. You can’t measure intelligence simply by gpa or test scores. One popular definition for intelligence from school staff suggested that intelligence is a individual’s ability to adapt to their environment. Very interesting so far. No naps mentioned yet but don’t lose hope! If they do mention naps, I’ll make sure to share (as long as I remember).

How’s your Saturday going?

Don’t Forget to Play

When I was a kid, I love dressing up my barbies and playing with my barbie house. And I especially loved it when I mama played with me. It brought me so much joy. Today I got to play on the floor with my little one. We played with playdough and had a blast. We had so much fun, she vacuumed and then she didn’t even fight me to take a bath. Since I’ve started working again, I forgot how important it is to play with my girls. Since we both had so much fun, I hope it will be a reminder to me in the future to be more intentional about about play.

Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.

Fred Rogers