Just Walk Out

If you don’t like me, my opinions, my perspective, my ideals, my policy views, my way of thought, my morals, my skin color, my hair color, my height, my education level, my hometown, or any other reason you could think to disagree… I ask that at this time you stand up and walk out…because that’s what everyone is doing these days, right?

You are in the third grade. Your new teacher has just finished explaining the classroom rules for the school year. You don’t like the rules so you leave class.

You are now in middle school. Your soccer coach has just finished explaining to you and your teammates a new play for the upcoming game but you don’t agree with it. It won’t win you the game. You pick up your bag and leave in the middle of practice.

You are now a new employee at a restaurant waiting tables. Your customer claims you messed up his order but you know it was not your fault – he forgot to ask for no pickles. You are now upset, but instead of correcting the error, you walk out on your shift.

Now you have graduated college and started a new job. You are an up and coming businessman/woman. Hot shot on the rise. You are a few months in. You are sitting in on a meeting about a new project you are assisting on. The CEO for your company does not agree with the direction or your suggestions. He/she thinks you are misguided and uninformed. He doesn’t communicate this to you or explain why. He/she just walks out.

As a parent, what would you tell the third grader? Just because you don’t like the rules in place does not mean you don’t have to follow them and surely does not mean you get to storm out of class. The middle schooler? Coach is in charge and while you may disagree or think there is a better way, you are a member of a team and he/she has more experience than you, follow the play. If you have a different suggestion, address it respectfully after practice. Maybe he/she will use it next time! The new employee? You’re fired. You don’t walk out on a shift because you don’t agree with a customer. The CEO at your new job? Pretty sure you’d be visibly upset and extremely confused as to why he/she couldn’t express his thoughts verbally in order to help you grow as an employee and create a better product.

Many of you by now are aware that a group of students walked out of their own graduation when Vice President Mike Pence stood up to the podium to deliver the University of Notre Dame’s commencement address. They upped and left while the VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA was preparing to deliver remarks. The VICE PRESIDENT*. Are you kidding me right now? Regardless, they left.

If you want a visual for the word immature, here you have it, folks. He was not there to impart policy, to force his views down your throat or even throw shade. He was there to celebrate, along with the families and friends seated in the audience, the great accomplishment those students had all achieved – graduating from college. As a man holding both a bachelors and law degree, he is all to familiar with what that achievement means and the hard work the students put in each day to reach their goal of graduating.

Each of the students who walked out, sure they had the ‘right’ to do so. You do you, boo boo. BUT what did they truly achieve? The real MVP is the student who disagrees with the policy of the current administration, but stayed seated, showed respect for the invited speaker, and gained a wealth of new knowledge on how someone he does not see eye-to-eye with views the future – because that is what most graduation speakers tend to talk about… your future, not how you should view the budget, gay rights or the military.

It is pertinent to being successful that one can disagree – even down to the core – with someone else but still express their views respectfully, still work hand-in-hand and will work to be educated on how the opposing side views things. Many of the people who make up our great nation, especially the ones who walk out of their own graduation, forget the importance of seeing both sides. If you ignore those who see things differently, that does not make them go away, does not change their perspective and does not achieve much of anything. But if you make a point to understand policy from all sides, you will have gained a great advantage**.

I’d be curious what those students are actively doing to contribute to changing policy they seem to so vastly disagree with. What did they believe was being accomplished by walking out? Are they activists in their community? Any of them running for office in their communities? I’d bet not, because how could they when they think the answer to fixing the problem is to pull the blanket over their head instead of facing the problem head on.

You cannot justify this with ‘at least they didn’t boo, they just walked out’. Both are wrong. Both are disrespectful. I hope one day someone walks out on them, in the middle of a big shining moment and decides that being selfish is more important, so then maybe they will have the opportunity to understand, to grow, to learn to hear both sides. You don’t have to ever change your perspective, your views, your policy, your morals, but unless you wish to continue hiding in the corner, the answer surely isn’t: just walk out.

 

*I don’t care if it was the VP, POTUS himself, Amy Schumer, JLO, Sheryl Sandberg, or Elmo. All still applies.

**I encourage each of you who agree or disagree to share your thoughts, opinions and perspectives in the comments. Some students may prefer to walk away, but I’d actually like to continue seeing things from both sides.

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Hurts so deep

I close my eyes

It will only be a moment

A moment until I find relief

Relief from the pain

The pain that exists every waking minute.

 

I have never known a pain like this

The kind that hurts all hours of the day

The kind you cannot make go away

It takes words to heal

Words you know are never coming.

 

Apology will not heal this pain

Because an apology does not bring you back

An apology does not give me the piece of my heart you hold on to

An apology does not take it back.

 

I close my eyes

In a moment the pain will cease.

 

I never wanted to know this pain

My soul aches deeply

I never want to cause this pain

Does your soul ache at all?

 

My eyes are closed

Opening them each day and remembering

That is the hardest part.

 

It is the kind that hurts.

Hurts so deep.

I close my eyes.

Goodbye.

Goodnight.

Am I free?

2016: The year that changed my life

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I have always wondered what it would mean to have a life changing year. A year I would look back on for the rest of my life and know it was a pivotal point in shaping who I am. 2016 somehow, unknowingly, became one of those years. I have spent the last two weeks reflecting back on what 2016 meant for me in my career, my personal and spiritual growth, my family life and my own. 2016 was one of the hardest years I have faced but I know it helped me grow in ways I will forever be grateful.

At the beginning of the year, as many of you know, I started a journey to begin taking my health more seriously – to get my life in gear as I prepared to start my career as a member of the U.S. Army. Taking my health into my own hands and hiring Amy Updike as my trainer will forever be the catapult I needed. I managed to not only inspire myself but those around me. Taking my physical fitness from a 19:30 2 mile to a 15:50 2 mile, 21 push-ups to 45, 78 sit-ups to 91, running 2 half-marathons, hiking numerous mountains in Korea, hiking adventure falls in the Philippines, and running a total of 218.5 miles in one year. I spent a large part of the year over tracking macros, watching the scale like my life depended on it and not mentally healthy. I am happy to say that taking a step back the last 3 months of the year has helped me look at a fit lifestyle with a much healthier perspective and I have slowly started getting back into my training. I am incredibly excited to see where 2017 takes me as I continue to push to be faster and stronger. Sadly, there will be no more half-marathons in my future as I have learned that my IT band will never be strong enough to maintain that endurance but I will be finding ways to push myself in other capacities. Last year I had set the goal for myself to run 400 miles in one year – as you can see I fell short – so this year I set the same aspiration.

I also took my spiritual journey into my own hands. Being spiritually fit was something that was a part of my household growing up. I was fortunate enough to spend my childhood in a private Christian school and at church on Sundays. Like anyone who walks the journey of faith, I have had my years of question and doubt but last year I aimed to grow closer to God after a life changing sermon at The Square in Atlanta that a dear friend took me to hear. I set a high ambition of reading the entire Bible in one year (Thank you, Amanda for telling me from the beginning to take it slow because of you I spent more time focused on the scripture than the goal of finishing.) I completed reading: Genesis, Leviticus, Job, Ecclesiastes, Jonah, Acts, 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Titus. My relationship with God – well, it is one I will always have to work to strengthen but I am so grateful I have been taking the time to do so. This year I will continue to read his word and pray. The power of prayer is one I will never know how to put into words. The greatest peace I find, that I hope others can find too, is knowing He has a greater plan. When anything in my life is changing – for what seems better or worse – I know there is a greater plan. He has walked this year before you and I and already knows what trials and triumphs are ahead. It is up to us to trust Him to bring us through.

In March, I moved across the world to Korea to begin my own journey as a U.S. Army officer but what I didn’t know when I left was that the home I’d come back to would never be the same. I am fortunate enough to come from a very loving and supportive household. The kind of family that will encourage even the wildest dreams, provide you every resource possible to accomplish all goals, unconditional love and an unwavering amount of support. That being said, in 2016 my parents amicably decided to part ways and ended their year in divorce. I’ll be honest, it has been one hell of a tough pill to swallow. Knowing your family life of 23 years will never be the same. When things change without you there – well, I just don’t know how to explain it outside of ‘it sucks’. I knew coming to Korea my year would be different. I knew Christmas would be without my family because I was moving away. Now I am having to try and grasp the concept of what does Christmas look like as an Adult Child of Divorce (we even have an acronym…I am now a member of the ACODs). Adjusting to two separate homes – to mom’s life and dad’s life – not just my parent’s life. Harder than that has been knowing my sister was home, handling this with me thousands of miles away. Knowing my parents are adjusting to life apart, 2017 will be a year of new. New homes, new cars, new holiday traditions, new ways of communication, etc. Quite frankly, it scares me. I am not sure I am ready for so much new when it comes to something that was so incredibly dependable my entire life. But mom and dad, I know you are reading this, so I hope you know – Clara and I are with you 100% for whatever new is ahead this year and we will all find new ways to be happy and a new normal for us.

2016 brought with it lessons in leadership as I have begun shaping the kind of leader I want to be. It brought cultural development as I had the opportunity to not only live in  Korea but travel to Japan, Hong Kong, Jeju Island, the Philippines and Australia. It brought many great memories as I spent a week snowed in at Brockport, flew home for Clara’s high school graduation and Kelby & Annie’s wedding, hosted my mom and sister here in Korea for a week, made a vast number of new friends from all around the world and celebrated New Years on the Sydney Harbor with my sister (something I had vowed to do when I started 2016). I read more, I drank more, I laughed more, I danced more, I spent time with ME more. I also cried more, ran more, slept more, spent more and hurt more. With good comes bad, but with bad always comes good. I have always vowed to find a silver lining and I trust that there is always something better around the corner. I said goodbye to some people who changed my life last year – and while I will forever be grateful for the impact they had on my life and shaping the woman I have grown into over the last 365 days – I knew they weren’t meant to be a part of my life forever. I also welcomed in some people who had been absent from my life for a very long time. While those wounds will take time to heal, I am grateful to have those doors open and look forward to what this year has in store for building those relationships back up. I welcomed new people into my life that I have had the pleasure of traveling with, laughing with, and quite frankly just make my life so much better – thanks, guys. I look forward to carrying you into this year with me and the adventures we have ahead. You have become my family here and for that I will always owe you one.

Thank you to each family member and friend who provided words of support, encouragement and love over the last year as I endured not only great happiness but great sadness. For taking the time to adjust to the time difference but still spend 2 hours a week on the phone with me. For the Skype dates and the hand written letters. To continually tagging me in new travel adventures and text messages at 2 a.m. and 2 p.m. For being so incredibly understanding that my journey here in Korea will last a little longer. For always including me even though I am thousands of miles away. I will never know how I got so lucky to have all of you back home cheering me on, but it does not go unnoticed and I could not be who I am or do what I do without each and everyone of you. 2016 would not have been the year it was without you. I don’t know if I would have made it out on the other end – so THANK YOU.

To 2017, I am coming for you. I will be running 400 miles, reading 2 books a month, continuing to grow my relationship with God, watching the sunrise from the Great Wall of China, standing in my Little’s wedding, welcoming the birth of Sarah and Trevor’s first born, starting a new job as a Division Public Affairs Officer, getting promoted, and moving out of Korea.

Happy new year friends. May your year be full of challenges, life changing moments, growth and great happiness.

 

Change

I choose to wake up happy.

I refuse to dwell on what I cannot change.

I look to the future and inquire how I can make an impact.

I will make a difference.

 

I am thankful for the many blessings in my life.

I find peace in the heartache I once faced.

I will work hard to be the best version of myself.

I know I am strong enough to conquer the storms ahead.

 

I am not alone in this journey.

I have God, family and friends on my side.

I understand some people have a temporary purpose in my life while others will be around for a while.

I value the love that keeps me warm.

 

For the future, I am hopeful.

For the past, I am grateful.

For the present, I am changing.

Day 236: Extended Stay

Good morning my beautiful readers! I hope this morning finds you well, with coffee in hand and enjoying the beautiful fall weather. Fall is easily my favorite time of the year. Typically there are bonfires and hard cider, tailgating and football, Halloween and Thanksgiving, the leaves changing and great weather for hiking. All reasons to fall in-love with fall! 🙂

Korea is a bit different, not that it isn’t great. Just take away the football, bonfires, hard cider, tailgating, Thanksgiving and quite frankly the colorful leaves of Western New York spoiled me and nothing will ever compare. I guess, take the fall out of fall and you have Korea. HAHA. I will say, I have no complaints that it is November and still above freezing temperatures. That is definitely a hit-or-miss in New York.

I know I have been absent from here for a few months. Honestly, I have just been too busy enjoying life or too exhausted from long days at work. I will be sure to catch you all up on my travels later as they most certainly deserve their own separate postings. I had the pleasure of spending Labor Day weekend in Osaka and Kyoto, Japan and then Columbus Day weekend in Hong Kong! Both excellent trips.

Work is good. Not great, not bad, but good. I am however fully enjoying my time in Korea. So much so that I extended. Yep, that’s right folks. You heard it here first. America, you are beautiful but I am not ready to be back on your soil for a good while longer. To my friends who are reading this and slightly angry/devastated/sad/disappointed/etc, I apologize but I just wasn’t ready to leave. March just seemed to soon. That being said, this #365daysofell just became #455daysofell. I hope you can understand. (This is where you send me a text using any emoji you wish and all will be forgiven, promise! xx)

I finally have a logo for Images By Ell. Took me long enough, right? I cannot wait to share with you all once the copyright is finalized! Let’s just say you know me and my love for flamingos, of course they were incorporated 😀 My trip for Thanksgiving is fully booked so be on the look out for the next grand adventure. My sister arrives next month. South Korea better watch out because we about to tear it uppppppp *dance party inserted here*!!! But seriously. Flights to Sydney have been booked. If any of you have suggestions for New Years in Sydney, talk to me in the comments. It is going to be a trip to remember, that is for sure.

In my world of fitness, things are on hold. I am not focused on being in the gym everyday right now, I eat out with my friends and enjoy dessert every once in a while. I am mindful of what I purchase at the grocery store and of my portions. Healthy eating is my lifestyle but for the time being goals have been set aside. I am not measuring myself and taking weekly progress photos right now. The more I became obsessed with challenge groups and the scale, the more self conscious I became and unbalanced I felt. The mental aspect can be incredibly tough, and still is most days. I am happy to be taking a break and just enjoying life for now. Hitting the gym 2 or 3 days a week or enjoying long runs instead of feeling the pressure to be there for 2 hours 6 days a week in addition to work, PT and having fun.

I am excited for what November has in store. My name is in the hat for a new job position (prayers please, what is meant to be will be), I have an upcoming field exercise we are preparing for and vacation at the end! 8 months down, 8 more to go.

 

Day 118: Trust your gut!

I preface this posting with this: I share this not in vein, not to present NCOs in a negative manner because this incident is a reflection on the individual himself, not on other Soldiers, male or female, Officer or NCO.

A few weeks back, due to my job responsibilities, I met an NCO. His job directly impacted an important area of my job within the S-6. I had difficulty getting in touch with him via e-mail prior to our meeting. SOPs were to be established per his guidance and yet he continued to drop the ball and never showed up when we had a meeting scheduled.

One day, he showed up in my office. Out of now where, close to COB (close of business), completely unannounced. My shop was in the middle of pulling hard drives for different laptops in order to record their serial numbers. You can imagine the disarray my shop was in, especially to someone unfamiliar with its usual order.

He introduced himself and I apologized for the mess but told him now was not a good time for us to talk as I was in the middle of a tasking that took priority. He asked to look at an old SOP (standard operating procedure) binder I had on file and that he would quietly gather information he needed and depart. Sure thing, that’s not a problem. He gathered what he needed and was about to head out when I stopped him and asked for contact information that would allow me to reach him directly, since e-mails didn’t seem to be working – he gave me his cellphone number and I provided him mine. This is normal practice in my job, he was on his way, I finished my tasking, closed up shop and moved on with my night. HELLO WEEKEND!

Here in Korea, most of us utilize a popular application called Kakao in order to chat with our friends and family back home for free. The only people I add on Kakao are friends and family, not co-workers. I keep work related contacts strictly to calls, and texts when needed. So, you can imagine my surprise when I awoke the next morning to 2 messages on Kakao (one from just after midnight and the other at 2:30a.m.) completely NOT work related, from this NCO. I was very taken aback. I ignored them. They weren’t explicitly inappropriate, but I didn’t feel him messaging me on a social site was appropriate either. Especially given the hour the messages were sent and that his messages weren’t work related in the slightest.

It made me feel uncomfortable.

Later that day he proceeded to text me, quite casually, as if we were pals. Again, I didn’t respond.

I proceeded to ignore him and sought guidance from a colleague come Monday morning. I was told should he continue to message me and make me uncomfortable I should just let him know it wasn’t ok. Otherwise, don’t bother addressing it.

So I moved on. It sat in the back of my mind, but I didn’t pursue it.

I learned recently that not long after, this NCO was arrested. I do not know the details, but in sharing my encounter I was informed the cause for his arrest was SHARP related…things had escalated.

I find myself wondering if I had spoken up and told him to stop, told him it was not acceptable, or even more so reported it, then maybe the SHARP incident that later occurred could have been prevented. That maybe he would have backed off.

I simply share this with you all today to provide one message: If something makes you uncomfortable, tell someone. If something someone is saying or doing makes you uncomfortable in your work environment, especially with colleagues, speak up! Encourage those around you to speak up. I was made to feel uncomfortable, I knew the messages were not appropriate, my gut told me something was NOT right. But I didn’t do or say anything. Hindsight is 20/20, but I hope in sharing my lesson, you all can take something away from this too.