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Friday, October 23, 2015

TGBKA Day 36: Coping Mechanisms

Sweet Baboo has learned the signs for when I need to cope. First, I get super involved. I sign up for every volunteer position I can get my hands on, and dive in head first with helping out. The calendar gets so full that I actually have to schedule sleep and showers in there... or else I'll forget both. I will make my way through my days with a determined twinkle in my eyes, and a pep in my step. I generally get this way when I feel like something major is happening, and I have absolutely no control. It's my way to feeling like I'm in control of something. And I get sidetracked with the awesomeness of giving back to my community in some way. Win!

I got super involved when Sweet Baboo got orders to Korea without us. I signed up for almost every volunteer opportunity I could find, and filled our calendar from July (when Sweet Baboo left) until January (when we were hoping he could take his mid-tour leave). I became a member of various Boards of Directors, Committees, and Executive Committees. I reached out to my friends who are Race Directors and verified that I could remain their Volunteer Coordinator, Packet Pickup Coordinator, and other various jobs. I was completely out of control, and I was absolutely in love with the full calendar we had!

Thank God for friends who understand priorities. As soon as I got word that we got our Exception to Policy I was elated! When I got our orders, and read the 60 day deadline, my heart sank. I hated feeling like I was letting my friends down by leaving. Thankfully Sweet Baboo knew that my heart wasn't torn; he understood that I was simply disappointed that I would not be able to fill the spots that I had volunteered for. And with each phone call/meeting/email that I sent out explaining the situation, the response was unanimous: "SpunkySoul, go! Do not worry about this position. We will fill it. You deserve to be with Sweet Baboo, so stop what you're doing and make that happen!" Okay, those aren't direct quotes... but those were the sentiments of every person I was working for. And my heart swelled.

My second coping mechanism is to organize. I cannot operate in a chaotic world without at least the most basic form of order in place. But even the most basic form of order can only hold me over until I can dig in and get things super organized. I have watched many movies where cowboys herd cows from one place to another, and I seriously cringe until every cow is in the new place. There's a reason why I'm no cowgirl: rather than branding the cows and prepping them for slaughter, I'd spend my days training the cows to walk in ranks with straight lines. That way I could keep an eye on each of them, making sure none wandered off. Nobody would eat steak because I would be too busy training their steak to stay in their ranks. Another reason why I so loved the order and discipline that came with being a Soldier!

After reading The Way They Learn, I have come to realize that I am a concrete sequential thinker. I do have abstract tendencies, and there are times when I have to intentionally make things random before I can organize them, but when Sweet Baboo and I read that book we laughed so hard our sides hurt when we read the description of the concrete sequential thinker:

"When presented with an abstract idea, Concrete Sequentials have a special talent for seeing the practical side of an issue" (p. 30).

"CS parents almost always have high expectations when it comes to their children's behavior and academic success" (p. 32).

"They are usually very organized, specific, and conscientious. They may ask repeatedly for clarification or more detailed instructions because of their need to be sure they are doing things right" (p. 34).

Seriously people... it's like the author wrote the entire chapter with me in mind. So when I start to feel like my world is becoming chaotic, the first thing I do is sit down and think out ways to organize it. You remember my notebook? That's just the beginning! In fact, that's only the concrete evidence of my sequential thinking. And that's only what I take the time to sit down and write out. If you only knew the storm of organizing that brews in my brain you'd dig yourselves a cellar, stock it well, and camp out indefinitely.

For the first time since we got married (10 years ago), I am going through every single room to organize our stuff. Long story short, Sweet Baboo kept getting deployed, or going to long schools away from home (or long TDYs). I didn't like the idea of sorting through his stuff and deciding what could stay and what needed to go without his being there. So when we moved into our tiny town home our idea of "merging" our lives was to open the boxes with the super important stuff in it and shove the boxes we didn't have an immediate need to open in the garage. That method got us through two duty stations and five houses. When we moved to RSA we made the conscious effort to get rid of stuff.

Guys... it was bad. For an entire year (our second year here) we had friends and neighbors stop by the house and ask if we were moving already. You can always tell who is about to PCS because theirs is the fullest garbage can at the curb, and they're making several trips to the "donation hole". Theirs is the house that is selling stuff. So when 3 out of 4 weeks per month had piles and piles of trash sitting at the curb, the neighbors started to think we were moving. But we weren't. We were simply donating what we had an abundance of (Army uniforms, furniture, etc.) and tossing what couldn't get donated (why did we keep every bill we paid from the first four years of our marriage???). We were in purge mode, but it seemed like every step forward in the organization efforts made us take several steps back. Inevitably, we would have to get a whole new set of uniforms (Sweet Baboo is about to purchase his fourth style of combat uniform in the 15 years of service he has!) or we would get involved in a new hobby (Goodbye golf clubs... and shoes... and cleaning gear. Hello triathlon swag!).

When Sweet Baboo went to Korea, he gave me carte blanche authority to get rid of anything I felt like, so long as I was respectful of the sentimental things he wished to keep. I know him well enough now (as opposed to in our first year of marriage) to make such decisions, but that doesn't stop me from taking a million photos and posting them on our organization page to make sure I can get rid of stuff. I'm so blessed to have a husband who gets that I need his participation in these matters. So when he says "I don't care", he isn't being uninvolved... he truly doesn't care.

In the past two days, I have accomplished the biggest feat yet: our garage. We have had a clean garage several times since we have moved here, but it was never organized. Everything was in "organized" piles... but the boxes needed to be gone through. I'll admit that I will probably not get the chance to go through every box before we move to Korea; but the boxes I won't be able to go through with the fine-tooth comb that I'd like to use are the ones with his (and my) official military records and documents. I have big plans to organize those documents, so they'll go to Korea and be a big project for me to undertake.

The Wee wanted to help. Here was her idea of "helping":
Her daddy taught her that sometimes it's more help when you "help by not helping". She opted to evoke the HBNH mentality today.
We will miss our lovely yard!
Here's what I started with:
So. Much. Stuff.

Why don't we throw anything away?

The kids have decided that the shelves are their personal grocery store... but they don't put anything back on the shelves!

I just do my best to avoid this section as much as possible. And this was taken after hours of clearing already!
I can't spend all of my time organizing. For some reason the sweet children desire entertainment, and food, and education, and... and... and... So here's what I balanced cleaning with:
The Wee is joining her big sister in the roller derby fun! She's rocking it.

The Elder needed to get some blood work done, and endured the procedure like a champ!

I sometimes wonder about these girls. Do they realize they're doing the scooter thing wrong?
After several posts to sell things, and an overflowing garbage can (again), and several trips to the donation hole, this is where I'm at for the garage now:
It doesn't look like much of a change, but things on this side of the garage will go to Korea.

And things on this side of the garage are either being sold or are going to non-temp storage. Except for the elliptical and the inversion table. Those are going to Korea!
I probably have another four or so hours in the garage to do. See those boxes in the back? Yeah... I want to go through those as well. I'd rather get rid of as much excess weight as possible. 13,500 pounds, remember? Or is it 6,750? Or 3,375? With all of this confusion, I can't afford to bring anything extra!

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