Hey guys! I'm still settling in and moving, so today I bring you another guest blogger - Jeniffer from Chaos Wrapped in Chocolate Covered Grins. What a precious name, right? Jennifer has been one of my most loyal, sweetest, and supportive commenters for a long time now and I love her insight on life that I haven't quite gained yet. Show her some love, okay? :)
I am a planner. I weigh options and consequences and more often than not, get caught up in and overwhelmed by the planning process and never act. I like that which is comfortable and familiar and always seem to be afraid of change.
That is why it took a total leap of faith (and a major step outside my comfort zone) to bring me to the place that I am today.
Thirteen years ago, after a month-long visit to England to see my then-boyfriend who was stationed in East Anglia with the Air Force, we decided to get married. I returned to my home in Texas and began preparations for the wedding to be held four months later. Just five days after the wedding, we were on a plane, with everything I could stuff in two suitcases, headed to England. I left all that I knew behind- my family, my friends, my home, the area where I had grown up and lived for the past twenty-five years, in order to start my married life.
Ten hours later, we landed at London’s Gatwick Airport, collected our luggage and boarded a shuttle to the military base where his car was waiting to take us to the home he was already renting off-base. The next nine days were a whirlwind of taking care of all the basics- getting my military ID, enrolling me in the system for healthcare, completing driver training and obtaining a driver’s license to drive overseas.
Nine days after my arrival in England, my husband left for a rotation to Italy for thirty days. I was left behind in a house that can only be described as “single guy chic” with the two dirty hand-me-down chairs I wasn’t entirely sure he didn’t pluck from the garbage, a television and bedroom furniture. I had made acquaintances with the neighbors on my previous visit, but I didn’t know them that well. I was lonely and scared- and about to spend my first Christmas away from my family and friends- alone.
I won’t say that it was easy. It was very hard but I learned more about myself in those thirty days (and subsequently the entire past thirteen years I have spent as a military spouse) than I had learned in my previous twenty-five years.
I slowly began venturing out with my neighbor at first and then on my own. I fell in love with England and it’s culture and eventually, I became the friend that would pile people in my little English car and navigate the small, winding roads that led us to the beach (aka “the seaside”), the local village market days and to shopping, the movies and restaurants in Cambridge. A trip to London was just an hour and a half away, Paris was an easy weekend trip and we even went on a weeklong tour by bus to Italy.
I lived in England for two years before we received an assignment back to the U.S. and I loved every bit of it- even the parts that weren’t so great. It was an incredible learning and growing experience that I believe helped me gain the necessary skills for dealing with the quirks of being a military spouse. I would not change a single thing about it (well, I would have visited Rome one more time before leaving).
“What did you learn?” you ask.
I learned that I can step outside of my comfort zone and everything will be okay. I am much stronger than I think I am. I have a level head when I need one. I can figure it out on my own. I can adapt to new environments and blend in. I can be one of the crowd. I can also stand out and be me. I can learn from every experience the good and the bad and take a lesson away from it.
“Would you do it over again the same way?”
Absolutely! I was incredibly lonely and sad the first six months, but that was necessary for me to grow and become who I am today. I feel my entire outlook on humanity, the world and politics is different because of my experience living in another country and getting that different perspective. I know that even now, when times get hard, I have it in me to persevere. I can get through it and be a better woman because of it.
I would go back to England in a New York… er… London minute!
I am a military spouse who currently calls New Jersey home (until Uncle Sam tells me otherwise). My major in college was liberal arts with a concentration in elementary education and a minor in music, which pretty much just makes me a big ole nerd. But I like me that way. I have an eight-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter that simultaneously, fulfill me, entertain me and threaten to steal my very sanity. Most days I can be found reading or writing, but some days I can be found rocking in the corner with a bag of Doritos. It’s just how I roll. I blog at Chaos Wrapped in Chocolate-Covered Grins.