#TBT: What I Learned During Our First Detachment

I mentioned this months back, but at the beginning of the year (in February) John went on detachment to New Mexico for a month. It feels like ages ago now, but it was the first time that we spent any time apart due to training, and in hindsight I learned a few things that seem worthwhile to share over here for my military readers.

A shot from Flynn's and my daily morning run during Det.

A shot from Flynn's and my daily morning run during Det.

Firstly, what is detachment? Detachment, more often known as “Det,” is when a squadron relocates somewhere for training. In our case, an entire Primary training squadron leaves Pensacola and heads somewhere with better weather, typically New Mexico or Michigan, for a month to six weeks in order to take advantage of clear skies and push the pilots through the program a little faster than they would be able to in Pensacola. Pilots usually fly twice, if not three times a day, and are subsequently accelerated through training. Squadrons normally start leaving on Det when there has been a significant back up in training or if the weather has just been really bad in Florida.

Many of our friends went on Det towards the end of Primary, so it wasn’t a surprise when John got called up to go. While no one likes to wave goodbye to their husband for a month, John and I dated long distance and have spent a few months at a time apart, so I wasn’t really nervous about his absence. As my friend Haley says, you can do anything for a few weeks and in comparison to deployment Det sounded like a breeze.

Here is the gist: For us, Det wasn’t a huge deal, but it did give me some unexpected perspective. The reality is that, because of John’s career, there will be large periods of time in our marriage in which we are apart, and although one month is not comparable at all to a six to nine month deployment, I feel as though God used the time to teach me a few things in preparation for longer seasons of absence. I established a routine, got lots of exercise with Flynn, kept myself busy with girlfriends, and worked a ton. The most obvious thing that was impressed upon me, though,  was that it is ok to make the first move and ask my friends and family for support if I need it when John is gone. While John was away this time I had a family emergency that (thank God) ended up being ok, but looked pretty dicey for a few days. During that time I realized that there will be things that happen during John and my life together, whether to us or to the people we love, that are hard and scary and sad, and in those times John may not be with me, and I may be living in a place far away from my family. I am not someone who likes to ask for help (pride) but I am learning that in this lifestyle is it so important to be able to reach out to your people and say “Hey, I need some extra support right now, will you check in with me this week to ask me how I am?” Our friends want to be there for us but sometimes they don’t know how, and it is so ok to be specific. It is so much better to ask rather than end up resenting the people you love for not supporting you when they just really didn’t know how I am so thankful to the people who rallied around me for those few days, let me crumble at work, pick their nursing brains, or just shot me a text asking how things were going. It meant the world to know that even though John was miles away there were people who had my back.

Military life is challenging for sure, and it forces us to be so intentional about maintaining and establishing deep relationships across the board-- with friends, family, and spouses. Over the past few years in Pensacola, though, I have realized that those deepened relationships, both old and new, are one of this lifestyle's greatest joys, and that is a gift that I will continue cherish.

My fellow military readers--anything you have learned from time spent away from your partner? Any tips or perspective, whether for short term or long term absences? I would love to hear, feel free to comment below. 

xoxo,

Emily

 

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A Flight School Update + Thoughts on "The Next Thing"

Happy Friday people! The past few weeks were busy, and I have wanted to spent as much time as possible with John when we are both off because it has seemed like we have been on opposite schedules a bit, hence the lack of blogging. I am getting back in a groove though, and am so excited to share some recent adventures! First off, though, in accordance with one of my blogging goals for 2015, a general update and some thoughts about where we are in the flight school pipeline.

The past few months have flown by, and a couple of exciting things have happened in terms of our flight school journey: John finished Primary, selected Helicopters, started Advanced training for Helos, and promoted to LTJG! Luckily, Advanced for Helos is in Pensacola (Milton actually) so we didn’t have to move. We were so excited to get Helicopters because John has been pretty sure that is what he wanted to fly since day one of flight school.

While it seemed like API and Primary dragged on a bit a times due to cancelations,  since John started Advanced he has been flying through (see what I did there?) and we have started talking about potential winging dates. Crazy, right? We have been in Pensacola for almost a year and a half, and even though we have about four to five more months here it is starting to feel like our Pensy time is winding down. We have grown to love Pensacola so much and will miss it hugely, but with winging comes moving, (we won’t know where until John wings,) and recently it’s been hard not to obsess a little over what is next.

There are so many unknowns in the military, and flight school is just a little microcosm of that: Where will one go through API? What aircraft will one select? Where will one be stationed after they wing? There is a tendency to constantly be looking ahead, to the "next thing.” Before I go any further I want to say...it is ok to talk about the possibilities of what is next, and we often do, but the point is that it is tempting to talk about it all the time, and we have to balance that with the healthy perspective that we simply aren't there yet and our life doesn't begin then--it is happening now, right now, this very second, here.

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I have been trying, and at times wrestling, to be present through this. I have been frequently reminded of my last semester of college, when I was simultaneously preparing to graduate, nannying, planning a wedding, and wrapping up my time leading Younglife. I had never been so busy in my life, and it was a temptation to put my head down, chug through school, and just focus on the future:  our wedding and moving to Pensacola. Early on in the semester, though, I realized that God was doing so much in those last few months of school—in my friendships, my ministry, and even my relationship with John, and I needed to be present in order to experience that. In the midst of so much transition and a grueling schedule, I needed to seek Jesus in the morning and claim Him as my peace. I had to take in one day at a time. The future would work itself out, and if I had spent all of my time worrying and dwelling on it I would have missed the joy and growth and deepened friendships that were such a sweet part of that season.

I am feeling similarly now, in another season of huge growth. It is easy to make “the next thing” the topic of every conversation, with both our Navy and civilian friends and loved ones. It is so tempting for John and I to spend all of our (sometimes hard-won) time together weighing the pros and cons of each possible location and the available aircraft. (More on that in a later post, but in a nutshell: we have five different options for locations and three different possible types of helicopter.) Too often we find ourselves talking about moving dates, and possible job options. I even catch myself asking friends in the Navy community what their thoughts are, whether students pilots or significant others, because sometimes it seems like the easiest way to start conversation.

None of these things are inspiring presentness.

The problem is that when we aren't present we miss it, we miss what is here, we miss time and the infinite things that could happen in that time. We miss people. We miss learning about our friends. In the hours we spend talking with them about “the next thing” we miss learning how our friends are now, what they have been up to, what is inspiring them, what they are learning, what keeps them up at night. I don’t want to miss that, and I don’t want the remainder of our time here to morph into a waiting game, because that doesn’t feel like it will honor the time we have spent in Pensacola and the way we have grown here, both individually and as a couple. I don’t want to miss what the Lord is doing in this place. I want to finish well here, and as gracefully as possible.

The truth is, though, sometimes the future is the thing that is keeping us up at night. I know I am not alone in that. And yet again, it seems as though so often my life is an exercise in giving up control, in recognizing that I am not actually the “captain of my ship,” but that the One who is in control, who does steer our fate, is immeasurably better at it than I am. Our job is to pray and wait, to be patient and present, focusing on what is right in front of us. “The next thing” will come, that is certain. And I do believe it will be good.

Obviously, I will post updates here as we get closer to the Fall and John’s winging date. I am also looking forward to sharing a little bit about what the second half of flight school has been like, as well as our favorite places and things to do in Pensacola. Also, we have a jam-packed summer ahead, full of exciting travels, weddings, and time spent exploring more of the Gulf before we head to our next destination, so stay tuned! 

Hope that everyone has a lovely weekend! If you would like to see what we are up to than follow along on instagram @evr_thegallivant ! As always, thank you so much for reading. 

xoxo,

Emily

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{Marriage} 2.2

I love these monthly marriage updates not only because they are a great way for John and I to journal month to month, but also because they are a fun way to keep the Gallivant's amazing readers in the loop about whats going on with us--the nitty gritty version. Thanks for checking in!

Taos, New Mexico

Taos, New Mexico

Richey 2.2 Update

Favorite Meals: I was on my own a lot of last month as John was in New Mexico on detachment, so I ate pretty simply. One of my favorite meals was slices of grilled halloumi cheese on top of pink gratefruit and spring mix, with a lemon olive oil vinaigrette. So fresh and yummy.

Favorite Words: Detachment, Roswell

Favorite Snacks: Ricotta, Pink Grapefruits--they are SO good right now!

Favorite TV Shows: Outlander. Have you seen it? Set in the Scottish Highlands, the first installment of Season 1 lays the foundation of the story and introduces all the main characters, namely Jamie and Claire.  I have been reading the books, and was pumped that Amazon had Season One on instant streaming. It is only 8 episodes so far, and most of them were build up and background to the main event which really kicks off the story. 

Currently Reading: Last month I read Drums of Autumn and Where'd You Go Bernadette, (read my review here) and John read Meaning of Marriage (Again--we love it.)

Gallivant: John did some pretty cool exploring last month while he was in Roswell. He and his buddies spent a day checking out the Carlsbad Caverns, and then a few days later they woke up at 3:00 am and drove six hours up to Taos. If you know John than you know that his love for skiing runs deep, and he was thrilled to be able to tackle Taos and spend a day on the slopes. 

Meanwhile in Pensy:  John being away on detachment for most of February was an interesting experience as it as the fist time that he had gone away on any military-related training. Lets be real... three weeks really isn't a long time, especially after dating long distance, but it is a little different when you are married and have gotten used to seeing each other every day. Even though it isn't really comparable of course I couldn't help but think about deployment. Three weeks is nowhere near ten months, but I did have some stuff going on in my family that made me reflect a lot on the fact that things might happen while John is deployed--scary, hard, heartbreaking things-- that he will not be able to be with me for and I will most likely be far from my family at the same time. In a sense I felt like God threw some  situations at me over the past month, (which all ended up being ok, thank goodness) which gave me some helpful perspective. Something I am learning is that it is important for me to be humble and able to ask my friends and loved ones for support when John is away. It is totally ok to say "I need some support right now--can you check up on me?" In a way, these little training trips are like pre-season for the real deal, and although I don't think I could ever be fully prepared, the things that I learned, and that I will continue to learn, are helping us to grow as a couple and work on our communication and strategy in advance of any long absences.

Happy Monday friends, and thanks for stopping by. 

xoxo,

Emily

P.S. This post contains affiliate links. If you click and/or make a purchase through the links I may make a commission, but all opinions are my own :-)

P.S.S. Like what you are reading? Go ahead and subscribe by entering your email address into the form on the left-hand side of this page so that you never miss a post! Or, you can follow me on Bloglovin. Also, follow along with The Gallivant on  pinterest, instagram,  and Twitter!

Life Of A Navy Wife & A Goal for the New Year

Richey's 2015

Richey's 2015

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had the most wonderful Christmas and New Years. After a little break, it feels so good to be here in this lovely little corner of the web, and I can't wait to share about where we have been and what we have been up to recently in the next few weeks! 

I know I am not the only one who has been thinking a lot in the past few days about some goals for 2015. One of my biggest blogging goals is to share more here on the Gallivant about the Navy aspect of our life and marriage. Part of this is spurred on by the fact that as I have been reflecting back on our first year of marriage (Anniversary post coming soon!) I have been thinking a lot on being a Navy wife. While being a milspouse is a large part of why I started this blog, I don't write about it that often, partially because there are many days where I don't feel like a milspouse. No one in my immediate family was in the military, so John was my first introduction to this lifestyle. Even though we have been together for almost 5 years, I am still learning military lingo, and being a spouse is a whole new learning curve.  I think most of my hesitation in calling myself, confidently, a Navy wife, though, comes from the fact that we have not yet weathered that big looming and impending thing that is deployment. Such is that nature of the Aviation track--Pilots have to go through 2.5 to 3 years of training before they are deployable, as opposed to something like Surface Warfare, who are deployable almost immediately. This has been wonderful for our marriage, because we, unlike some military couples, have been able to spend great quality time together in our first year. That being said, sometimes when I chat with older wives about their experience in the military, I can't help but think about how they have spent long period of their marriage separated from their husbands, they have raised and maybe even delivered children alone--they have earned the title of milspouse, and I am not there yet. 

But then I remember that this is not a badge that I can earn, it is just a fact and part of our life.  And despite the fact that John has not deployed yet, my life and our marriage does look different than our civilian friends and loved ones.  We shop at the commissary, we often can't plan more than a day ahead, our schedules change on a dime, we have no idea where we will be in a year....etc. While our lifestyle comes with some frustrations (whose life/career doesn't?), it also comes with an incredible community, friends, and opportunities.  Over and over again we have seen God work in it in the past year. Someone said to John recently in a grocery store in Massachusetts, "Oh, you are in the Navy? I feel so bad for people in the military." The comment was ignorant, but came from a place of what I believe was simple (and common) misunderstanding. Our life looks a little different from our civilian friends and loved ones, but we wouldn't trade it. John dreamt of serving his country, felt led here, and I along with him.

So, I hope to share more this year about what our life in the military looks like, in small ways and large. I hope this serves two purposes: 1) To help our civilian friends and loved ones (many of whom, like me, have no previous connection to the military) understand military life a bit more, and 2) To connect and relate with readers who are in the military and share encouragement. I have been so blessed and encouraged by more seasoned milspouses who have shared their perspective, (I read one of my favorite blogs, Tulips & Flight Suits, from start to finish when I first moved to Pensacola, and learned so much from Mary in the process) and I hope that this is a place that can in turn encourage others who are learning to navigate this lifestyle. 

With this in mind, I would love to ask you, my lovely readers: Are there any particular questions that you have that you would like to see discussed here on The Gallivant pertaining to flight school or military life? The Gallivant is not turning into a military blog, but it is part of our lifestyle so I would love to talk about it a bit more--maybe around 1 post a month. I would love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have, so feel free to either comment below, contact me through the contact form at the top of the page, or email me directly at gallivantblog@gmail.com. 

As always, thank you so much for reading. Cheers to all that 2015 has in store.

xoxo,

Emily

P.S. Here are a few of my Navy related posts from the past year:


{Gallivant} Honeymoon-St. Lucia (Plus 5 tips for the Best Honeymoon)

Sugar Beach, St. Lucia

Sugar Beach, St. Lucia

A lot of people have asked about our honey moon, so I thought I would share a bit about it here! After all, it was our first time gallivanting as a married couple...

The town of Soufriere, from above. 2 Coves over from where we stayed.

The town of Soufriere, from above. 2 Coves over from where we stayed.

John and I were so blessed to be able to go to the beautiful island of St. Lucia for our honeymooon in late December. When we were deciding on where we wanted to go we stuck to a strict criteria: hot, beach, things to do outside of the resort, less travelled, all-inclusive or half-inclusive option. We researched a ton of different islands/countries but in the end we decided St. Lucia fit all of our needs. (Dominica and Nicaragua were a close second and third.) We were so grateful that the Navy gave us a full 6 DAYS, and we were fully committed to making the most of it, as it is not likely that we will be taking a trip this great, and this long, anytime soon. Luckily for us, St. Lucia is packed with things to do!

This sweet note greeted us upon arrival.

This sweet note greeted us upon arrival.

We stayed at the Sugar Beach Resort, formerly known as Jalousie Plantation. Boy, were we spoiled! Sugar Beach combines ultimate relaxation, privacy, and world class service. The grounds, a former plantation property, were stunning.  The whole property is studded with lawns and tropical gardens complete with little ponds covered in lily pads. The beach and pool were lovely, and the food at all three restaurants was to die for.  Not to mention our little suite, which included our own outdoor deck complete with mini bar and nespresso machine, as well as lounge chairs and a plunge pool.The best part though? Sugar Beach is located on a private bay smack dab between the Pitons, the two volcanic mountains that St. Lucia is known for. In short...it was wonderful. More than a month later, and it still hasn't worn off. In fact, I grabbed a t-shirt from my dresser today and caught a whiff of what I could only describe as Sugar Beach. Fresh, clean, with a hint of cedar. It totally brought me back, and inspired this post!

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We wanted to make sure that we got maximum beach time but also did some more active things during our stay. So, most days we combined an activity with an afternoon or morning spent lying out on the beach with our books. We explored the nearby town of Soufriere, went on a sunset cruise,  snorkeled, and visited the volcano and botanical gardens. Our favorite activity, though, was hiking the Gros Piton (If you know us, you aren't surprised). Although this hike is definitely not for the faint of heart as it is incredibly steep, we highly recommend it to anyone planning a trip to St. Lucia. I'd tell you about the view, but I don't want to ruin it! Needless to say, it isn't hard to understand why the Pitons are a World Heritage site. 

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This guy got to rest for once!

Working on my tan with the Gros Piton in the background. 

Over all, our honeymoon was insane. Our resort was incredible, but it was also cool to get outside of it and experience the local flavor as well as meet the local people of the island. To sum up what contributed to making our experience so awesome, here are five tips for planning the best honeymoon trip possible:

1. Do the half-board option. If you are like us, than there is no reason for you to be paying for more alcohol than you drink in a month per day for all-inclusive. Also, this gives you the freedom to try out some lunch places away from where you are staying. 

2. Schedule your activities before you get there! That way your resort will either provide you with an itinerary, or you can make one yourself, and all you have to do is wake up each morning (at 10:00 at least, duh) and see whats on the schedule for the day! Also, you won't run the risk of wanting to do something, only to find the capacity is full. 

3. When scheduling your activities find at least one that looks fun/ exhilarating and forces you out of your comfort zone. I know honeymoons are all about relaxing and enjoying each other, but don't forget that marriage forces you out of your comfort zone all the time. Might as well start now, when there is the option of a couples massage in sight...

4. Splurge. I'm especially looking at you, military couples. It is not often that you will have the opportunity to get away with your spouse, alone, so don't be afraid to spend a little more than you originally planned. This is such a special time, so let it be special. You may never go on such a nice vacation again ( I know we won't for a gazzilion years), but you will have an amazing memory to return to. 

5. Fully commit to being non-committal. Like I said before, its great to have a schedule pre-planned, but let yourselves be flexible. Feel like sleeping in till noon? Do it. Want to change your dinner reservation till later so you can stay on the beach till 5:00 and then enjoy a cocktail or dip in the hot tub? Do it. Remember, you aren't wasting time as long as you are together. That's what this is all about. 

Thanks for stopping by! If you want,  leave a comment about where you honeymooned or what your favorite part was--I'd love to hear about your gallivants! 

xoxo

Emily 

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