Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Transitioning

I woke up Monday morning, ironically, the first night that the Fireman slept through the night since he’s been home, and there I was staring at the ceiling at 4 am, listening to him mumble in his sleep next to me. It was the sore throat that woke me up, and the sheer exhaustion that slapped me in the face the next few days as I sucked on throat lozenges and ate Zicam like it was my job.

Civilian life is a tough transition. We’re a one car family right now, so there’s that. Then there’s the inevitable question of, “What will we do today?” followed by the realization that without a schedule there is no day ahead of us. The schedule is what drives him. The days loom ahead on the calendar, empty & full of supposed R&R & leave, but they look like a blank slate. Scary, right?

2014-02-15 10.44.26Food used to appear at 6 pm on the dot. Food now has to be shopped for, prepared, & cleaned up. Laundry, oh laundry, you freaking beast. You’ve doubled, tripled in size & taken over the floor of our bedroom. Shoes are everywhere. Backpacks are everywhere. Weights are on the floor in the office. The dishwasher is run every few days. The eggs run low. The milk runs lower. Sometimes, the patience runs the lowest.

The transition is hard. A week and a half in & we’re still struggling a little bit. The Fireman is starting to sleep through the night, after waking up at least twice nightly. Daily routines are starting to become established. Little by little, we’re getting back to normal.

So bear with me, as I wade through this new part of life to get back to our old life. Projects are coming, but summer & my family are here as well. Balance is important & so is chocolate.

Caitlin out.

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Reflections on 24

Oh hey y’all. Remember me? I’m smack in the middle of a super long vacation in California which is why I haven’t shown up for class since…well, last Wednesday. But I realized on my run this morning that today is the last day before I cross over into my second quarter of life.

Let me rephrase: tomorrow is my 25th birthday.

At 25 you’re expected to have your sh*t together, non? Because if that’s the case, just fail me now. 24 was a rough year. 25 is an even harder age. I am constantly being bombarded with engagement and pregnancy announcements (and divorce announcements, if you can believe that) & I feel like I am hurtling uncontrollably towards some invisible finish line.

2014-07-02_0003Most of 24 was dominated by a deployment. The first half, it hovered over my head like an axe I felt would drop at any moment. For the last half of 24, I’ve been alone. As one of my coworkers told me, “It’s lonely, but it makes you a stronger person.”

She’s right. I started traveling again. I read such an absurd amount of books that I’m embarrassed by it. I started working out again and dropped to sizes I haven’t fit in since high school. 24 was a very in between year. 25 will be too.

2014-07-02_0002I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to spend my 25th birthday with my family in California for the first time in 5 years. I’m lucky to have all of these crazies in my life (including the one eyed wonder pup, Moxie). I’m lucky this deployment is slowly drawing to a close & I’m hopeful that 25 will be better than 24 was.

So tomorrow, feel free to have a slice of cake on me :).

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Deployment

So I forgot to post again last week. No excuses, but here’s the thing: the last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle for me. We all know that people only share the happiest and shiniest moments of their lives on the internet.

I now have a bit of a confession to make.

Four and a half months ago, the Fireman was deployed to the Middle East.

2014-02-15 10.44.26Sometimes deployments are portrayed as something of a romantic notion; the soldier goes away and those left behind pine for him until he makes his triumphant return. Great. Except that they always gloss over the every day life that we deal with by ourselves. Remembering to pay the bills. When was the last time I did laundry? Have I vacuumed at all this month?

I’m here to dispel the notions about deployments. Hollywood has lied to you. There is nothing romantic about watching your best friend walk away from you at the airport gate. Nothing about sleeping alone for 6 months. Nothing about coming home to a dark and empty house, night after night. There is nothing romantic about be able to talk to your loved ones sporadically, worrying everyday about their safety.

Grocery shopping can be done almost monthly. The laundry gets put off as long as possible. Sometimes dinner is a box of macaroni and cheese and the dishes stay in the sink for two days. Spiders are trapped under jars.

The novelty of being able to not worry about anyone other than yourself and stay up late and go out with your friends wears off. There’s nothing more that I want right now than to curl up on our couch with the Fireman and watch a movie.

There have been so many instances where I find myself wanting more than ever for him to be home: when his 9 month old nephew giggles; when it’s a lazy Sunday and I want someone to drive around with; when I have a bad day. He isn’t here to partake in my joys nor my sorrows.

Let me repeat: deployments are romanticized. The homecomings are amazing and worth the wait, but the leaving, the first day, the first week, the first month, they all suck. Don’t forget the middle. Don’t forget that you’ll only be able to see your loved one through pictures. You’ll find yourself hungry for snippets of their daily lives. You’ll worry daily about them. Your days will start to blend together, until one day, you realize that you’ve established a new routine that doesn’t involve anyone else.

And when they come home? It’s almost just as hard as when they leave. Suddenly, it’s not just about you anymore. You have someone else to consider. For the first few days, you tiptoe around each other and try not to get in each others way. I mean, we all say that it’s not going to be that way when our person comes home, but really? We’ll do a small dance around each other for the first two days until we can get adjusted to it.

They’re coming home from somewhere so structured that sometimes they’re lost when they’re set free. We’re at a place so unstructured that we can’t remember how long that milk has been in the back of the refrigerator.

It’s hard, but there are some sweet moments. Receiving a text that tells you how much they love and miss and appreciate you. Being asked to Skype because they miss seeing you. Talking; really talking about everything and nothing at the same time. These are the things that keep you going when you think that you can’t do it any longer.

You’ll learn things you never knew about yourself while you’re alone for so long. You’ll find that you really are incapable of killing spiders. You’ll learn you can reupholster a couch by yourself. You’ll find yourself driving around and finding small back roads that beg for exploring. You’ll learn how to be alone & do things by yourself. I’ve traveled by myself, gone on dates alone, & I even learned how to jump my car battery (I mean, I had him on the phone with me, but still).

Deployments suck. You’ll never find someone who enjoys them. I’ve struggled the last few months with a myriad of emotions that have thrown me around. This isn’t an excuse to why why I’ve been scatterbrained and forgetting to post, and blahbitty blah blah, but real life happens. Deployments happen. We can see the end of the tunnel now, but every step there feels like quicksand. Soon enough, he will be home and life will be back to normal, but until then, we’re a world apart.

And of course, a little tip: if you know someone who is dealing with a deployment, offer an ear. A free dinner. A movie night. Even letting them know that you’re around if needed is the biggest thing that you can do. Trust me on this one.

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NYC: World Trade Center

I’ve talked about how 9/11 changed my life here, so I won’t beat a dead horse. I took a trip to NYC a few weeks ago and the World Trade Center memorial was top of my list. Have you ever been? It’s stunning. There are literally no words for it. You’re walking through a maze of skyscrapers and construction, and then, BAM it’s opened up in front of you. The two gaping holes in the earth with the constantly flowing water.

You don’t realize the enormity of it until you approach the walls and see the names engraved in them. The names are grouped by flight, ladder, engine, company…you get the idea. Until I saw the names of the 343 men and women who willingly sacrificed their lives on 9/11, it never really hit me. I ran my fingers over the squads, and tears came to my eyes as I realized that these 343 people right here were why I am who I am. They gave their life so I could live mine. So thank you. Thank you to every single one of you, who went to work on that fateful day expecting to come home to your families at the end of shift.

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Please, please visit this place. It’s such an important piece of history. Have you ever visited it? What did you think?

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2014 Goals

I just found a list of my 2014 goals, and even though it’s April, better late than never, right?

1. Paint more. Not furniture, actual painting, which I used to do so much of when I lived in California. Time to bust out some canvases!

2. Volunteer somewhere.

3. Be thankful everyday.

4. Cut spending in half.

5. Expand Page Photography.

6. Attend a photography workshop.

7. Blog more.

8. Write.

9. Travel.

10. Pay off my car.

11. Do more DIY.

12. Be more present in the moment.

13. Social Media Free Weekends.

14. Do a styled shoot.

15. Cook something new weekly.

16. Pass AEMT test.

So far I’ve crossed a few things off the list, and I’m definitely working on more as we speak. Honestly, having this posted will keep me accountable, instead of them just sitting in a notebook that keeps getting buried!!

Have you hit any of your goals for the year yet??

 

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I was going to chat today about my trip to Delaware and the fact that it’s Opening Day at Fenway (!) and other trivial things (big things in my life, really), but honestly? None of those things matter hugely in the grand scheme of things.

I don’t want to be a downer, but I’m going to get deep for a sec. Last Wednesday, two firefighters were killed in a fire in Boston. If that wasn’t horrible enough in itself, my partner and I listened to the fire and heard them call the Mayday and then stop responding on the radio.

It sucked. It was a tragedy that wasn’t caused because they were incompetent, or because of equipment failure. They weren’t newbies, they just got disoriented in a fire that quickly spiraled out of control.

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And it makes me think about life. Those guys didn’t go into work Wednesday morning knowing that their card was going to get punched that afternoon. Knowing that they wouldn’t return back to their families the next morning. They went into the station that morning expecting to do their jobs, maybe run a few calls, cook a big dinner. The usual.

I mean, we’re all human. We’re all bound to leave this Earth at some time. But it’s hard to imagine when you’re so young. When you have little kids. When you have your whole life in front of you.

I keep thinking of the woman who will never be able to hug her husband again. How shocking it must have been to answer the phone to hear firefighters who worked with her husband instead of her friend.

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Look, we know we have dangerous jobs. The fact that you might not make it home is always in the back of your head. Always. It’s just not something that you acknowledge.

It’s why I make sure I tell the Fireman I love him every time he leaves the house to go to work. We could be fighting; not speaking to each other, but I still always tell him, “I love you.” Because you know never know what day could be your last.

These two men were honored this week as firefighters traveled from all over the country to be at their funerals. There were two firefighters from St. Louis on my plane to Boston on Tuesday night. There were firefighters from BFD at Logan picking up others. Boston is a resilient city. Boston is a strong city. They’ve been through a lot in the last year, & this loss? The first deaths since 2007? A huge sucker punch.

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A sucker punch for us all. So tonight, hug your kids. Hug your spouse. Tell them you love them, & in the morning? Tell them again.

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I read an article the other day that said on average, by January 16, people give up on their resolutions. The gyms are quiet, Home Depot has an excess of organizing totes, and Lay’s stock has gone through the roof. I think that people put too much stock in their resolutions…they bite off way more than they can chew. 7 resolutions? Try 3. Concentrate more on a few things that you want to change rather than a ton. That’s what I’m doing this year: keeping it simple.

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1. Say yes more. I say no too much. No, I don’t have the money to go to Vegas for the weekend. No, I don’t have to time to grab lunch with you. No, I don’t have the _______ to _______. I want to say yes. I want to do fun, spontaneous things more. I want to meet my friends in NYC for the weekend. That’s the plan for this year.

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2. Be in more pictures. I went through all of my pictures from 2013, and I was only in a handful of them. I have documentation of an entire year, but nearly nothing proving that I was there except that I was behind the lens. I’d like to put the camera down or give it someone else to show that I am, in fact, loving this crazy life, and I’m actually part of it.

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3. Take better care of myself. This is a hard one. We eat super healthy, but I definitely fell off the Paleo bandwagon starting after Thanksgiving, and I can feel it. I’m going to aim to get more sleep, drink more water, eat more raw food, and work out more. Want to know a dirty little secret? The last time I worked out was in May. My treadmill is gathering dust in the corner of our office, and I need to clear it off and start using it again. It’s not just exercise though. I need to be more positive towards myself, less critical, and less stressed.

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4. Be more present. We’re all addicted to social media these days, and it’s an issue when you try to connect with actual humans. I always put my phone away for dinner, and try to limit my phone contact during the day, especially when I’m with people. It’s a hard thing to back away from, but I’ve started to implement “social media free” weekends into my life, and I feel so much better and less burdened when I can step away from the chaos that is my Instagram and Facebook feed.

What are some of your resolutions for this year?? Spill!

P.S. I almost put “read more” on the list…but I read 136 books this year (down 31 from last year), and figured that it was kind of a stretch.

P.P.S. I have a gorgeous new baby girl cousin, born this morning!! Happy birthday baby girl!!

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Thankful.

It’s the holidays, and if your blogroll looks anything like mine, you’ve been deluged with Christmas decorations since early November. People are starting to construct their Christmas lists, show off their gorgeously decorated homes, and you feel like you have to be on top of it all and do the same thing.

I know that I can’t be the only one who looks at blogs and sees the sunshiney lives of beautiful people who live in gorgeous, magazine ready homes, and feels immediate jealousy. My sister and I walked through Ikea and I had the feeling that I just had to have something of everything. Why? I literally didn’t even need a single thing, but I felt that if I had one more plate charger, my life would be complete. Have you ever had that strange feeling? Like you feel that you need to fill your home up with things that don’t even matter in the end?

While I was on Facebook, I stumbled upon a Craigslist ad that my cousin had posted in regards to a yurt that her friend was selling. I had initially thought that this yurt was just something that they had on their property, but it turned out that they lived in it full time, and wanted to upgrade to something a little more rooted (with running water) before their second baby came along. If you’re not familiar with a yurt, it’s a portable structure used mainly by nomads in Central Asia. And she lives in it year round. There were pictures of the inside…it was beautiful. Seriously gorgeous. And I thought, they live so simply and are so incredibly happy with what they have…how can I be like that?

I have so much to be thankful for. I started out this month with serving up joy and happiness in large amounts as I surprised my best friend and family for the weekend. Seeing the tears of joy running down my best friends face as she stood shocked in front of me just filled my heart up. Seeing my parents standing the living room staring at me as I walked in unannounced, watching my puppy recognize me; these are the things that matter in life. Not how many nice pairs of shoes you have, not what car you drive, not how your house looks compared to every one elses. We’ve become so caught up in the material aspect of our lives that we forget to live them.

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I’m reminded everyday of what I have to be thankful for, and though some days I hate my job, or I’m drowning in homework, or I dread going to class, I remind myself that I’m lucky for what I have. I get to come home every night to someone who loves me and supports me no matter what crazy harebrained idea I come up with (and believe me, there have been a few). I resolve every year to be more grateful for what I have, but I am really feeling it this year.

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I’m so grateful for brides that have helped me grow my fledgling business, I’m grateful for sisters who don’t mind if I text them in the middle of the night. I’m grateful for my Chief who looked at me and saw a firefighter, and not just a girl. I’m grateful for my Fireman, for always standing next to me even when I don’t deserve it. The next few months are going to be a doozy, but I want to remember to be grateful, even when I’m not.

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These are my people. They’re what I’m thankful for, even when they annoy me, or put the dishes in the dishwasher wrong,. I am thankful every single day that I’m lucky enough to have them in my life and that they put up with my shenanigans.

There’s my thankful list. It’s simple and to the point. What are you thankful for this year??

PS: if you’re in the market for a yurt, I can probably get you one.

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This and That

Yesterday completed my weekend of 22 hours of clinical time. Blech. Oh, and did I mention that with windchill yesterday it was 0 degrees? With 30 mph winds? Twas awful. (Oh, and I still have 40 more hours to go. Hooray!)

As is this blog post. Sorry y’all, when you essentially don’t wear anything but your uniform for 4 straight days and eat dinner after 9 for two of them, ya get a little loopy. Oh, it also snowed Saturday. I’m just not ready for that yet. They’re predicting a Noreaster for Thanksgiving, but I’m hoping that they’re wrong since I’m traveling that day (as is 87% of the country).

Anyways, I saw this video and loved it, so I figured I’d pass it on.

And I’m out to take another nap.

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Veteran’s Day

Today is Veteran’s Day. A day that most consider great because of the awesome sales and day off from work, but one that I acknowledge and try to remember the significance for. Because let’s be honest, those ABU’s sitting on our bedroom floor won’t let me forget that the military is in my life. The combat boots sit on the floor of our closet, and the cap rests on the top shelf. The blues hang, pressed, in a protective garment bag, and twice a year, they are put on and adjusted for inspection.

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If I’m going to be honest, this is not the way I would have envisioned my life 10 years ago. 10 years ago, the only people I knew who served in the military were my grandparents. Now, I have cousins, friends, and the Fireman who are a part of it. I would never have thought that someday there would be a Family Readiness Group magnet hanging on my fridge, I would have never thought that I’d be spending at least one weekend a month by myself while the Fireman was down at base. I never thought that I’d ever have to deal with a deployment, or that I would suddenly be handling finances, a home, and full time job by myself while the Fireman was away training.

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Like I said, not a life I would have ever expected. But you know what? It’s worth it, despite the sacrifices. I want my children to grow up in a world where they understand and appreciate the men and women of the past. I am so proud of what the Fireman has been able to accomplish with his involvement in the military.

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So today, while you’re at Nordstrom’s , or Old Navy, or Target, take a minute to remember all of the brave men and women who came before us and fought for what they believed in. And silently thank them for their sacrifice, because that’s all that they have ever wanted.

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