{July 6, 2015}   Lessons in Gratitude

Today was a rough day. I am getting a crash course into military-wife life by way of TMO (Traffic Management Office) weight limits, non-temporary storage, bureaucracy, and just overall really aggravating contractors. I am also getting lessons in the kindness of strangers, old friends, and small blessings. So I thought I’d focus on the latter.

Revel in the Little Things

After a highly frustrating day that involved: the express envelope that contained my storage key not being delivered to my friend in my old home state so that she could authorize my military contract movers to move my stowed away furniture and such from my single days, the storage company trying to convince me to pay them a ridiculous amount to cut the lock (basically playing on my desperation, classy move Public Storage. I didn’t take the bait and the key was delivered too little too late), having to reschedule the said move, inconveniencing a very busy solo practitioner. On top of that I was late to an Employment Readiness appointment (great resource by the way), but was able to receive help anyway. The cherry on the day was finding out I’ve been doing all of my federal applications completely wrong, basically rendering all of my experience, education, and skills null and void because my resume is too succinct and to the point. You know the way they train you in school. As the woman told me, “You’re trying to get a job with the government, you’re going to have to learn how do things in the most long and drawn out way possible.” Point taken. Lol.

Anyways, after all of that I decided to go to the running trail by the flight line to clear my head. Just as I’m getting underway Retreat starts (some people call the end of the day trumpet sound Reveille as well as the morning trumpet, but they are in fact not the same). Instantly I stop mid-stride, face the music of the Star Spangled Banner, and put my hand over my heart.  As the music winds down and then stops, I turn to see cars that have stopped in the middle of the street begin to drive, women begin to push strollers and start conversations up again as if they never stopped, runners pressed start on their watches and picked up the pace again. It was like we all were playing freeze tag and someone yelled “GO!” I couldn’t help but smile. My back was to the scene when I stopped. I didn’t know others were nearby. I marveled at how, before getting married I probably hadn’t heard reveille trumpets in 15 years, and yet my response was so automatic, because even as kids, we knew to stop play to honor the flag. It was a simple thing part of my training as a military brat that had never left me, it was ingrained. I thought to myself, “I wonder what this scene looks like to an outsider.” All of the military books I’ve read and tv shows I’ve watched, I can’t remember anyone referencing this shared experience that occurs everyday at 5:00pm or 1700 hours. Because its such a small part of military life, one who has not truly lived this lifestyle probably doesn’t even understand the significance when they are disseminating military stories to the masses. As I saw all of us “unfreeze” I concluded my inner conversation with the thought, “I don’t know how it looks to an outsider, but to me it looked like home.” I’d come home, as a military brat, it was like stepping into the front door of grandma’s house… somethings never change, nor would you ever want them to change. So I spent most of the day aggrevated with the military and government entities in general (thank you United States Postal Service), but I ended it just feeling proud and for that I am grateful.

Angels Unaware…

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2 (KJV)

My second story of gratitude started on a horrendous wedding planning day and concluded on this very frustrating day, almost like a reminder to rejoice in the small things. When I was about a week and half out from the wedding, my parents asked my fiance and I to see if the base had loaner car seats. My sister was to fly across country by herself with a 2 year old and a 2 month old (her husband couldn’t come until later because of work and she was coming early as the Matron of Honor). To make maneuvering easier she was only bringing one car seat and would need another when she arrived. Well much to our chagrin the air force base’s resource centers no longer lend out car seats because of liability reasons. I found this out on a day, when so many things had gone wrong with wedding planning. I decided to try one last place, Adventure’s Unlimited, which is like a sporting goods store on base. When I was a kid you could rent all sorts of out of the way supplies. Well they too did not have car seats, but it just so happened the sales clerk, McKenzie, had just transitioned her daughter out of her infant car seat. She literally gave me the car seat. I offered money, she refused. It was such a nice act that it totally changed my outlook on the wedding and really people. I didn’t know this woman but her generosity was greatly appreciated. She could tell I was frustrated and tired from the day, and her kindness helped me at least accomplish one thing on a day when very few things seemed to pan out. So touched by her graciousness was I, that I bought a gift card to accompany her thank you note.

However, today when I brought in the thank you note, McKenzie no longer worked at the Adventure’s Limited. Now I’m not saying that McKenzie was an angel per se, but I am saying that sometimes we as people are called to be that light of hope and inspiration for others. McKenzie was going to drop the car seat off at a thrift store and instead she said I saved her a trip. But to me, she touched me with her act of kindness. So McKenzie, you may never read this, but Thank You a thousand times. You kept a bride from crying that day. You rejuvenated my faith in humanity. You saved me that day from negativity and despair. The other things that went wrong weren’t fixed that day, but I can’t even remember what they were except that they were pretty big disappointments. All I really remember from that day was McKenzie’s kindness. It was a small act, but that day I just needed someone to care and she did. Thank you again!

For those of you who don’t know what reveille is…  I thought this was a funny example, but it shows how seriously military service members take it. It doesn’t matter what is happening when you Retreat or Reveille starts, you stop!


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