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An ongoing series of my personal thoughts & experiences

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ENTRIES

An ongoing series of my personal thoughts & experiences

Our Love Story

Sunday July 30, 2017 by Charlin Janene
I was an Army wife for nine years. When I met my husband he was fresh out of the Marine Corps living in his parents' basement. I was working a factory job at FedEx Ground in Richfield, Ohio. He started working a factory job through a placement agency as well. My heart was broken for the first time ever, months before he came into my life. So, I was not looking for another relationship, definitely not so soon. His patience with me and dedication to making me feel comfortable is what attracted me to him. Initially, there was no physical attraction. The 7.5 year age difference was intimidating! If I hadn't given him a chance I would have made the biggest mistake of my life! Without even noticing, he started driving me to work everyday, and he would pick me up after his shift. That is when I started to become attracted to him physically. I also started to feel an emotional connection building. Funny thinking about it now, but I used to look at him, and his big manly arms in the corner of my eye while he was driving his manual Ford Focus. Lol!! The smallest things put a smile on my face with him.


We dated for approximately 5 months before he proposed. Yes, I know, it happened quickly. Btw, he fell first. I actually told him upfront that I wasn't ready to say "I love you" back just yet. I thought he'd get upset & move on, but he never did. Just said "okay, whenever you're ready." I was like, "what?!" ...I was dealing with a mature grown man. He knew exactly what he wanted, and how to get it, while also treating me with respect and demonstrating patience! I was in complete amazement, I swear. Earlier that same month he made the decision to 'make me his'. I didn't even think about how fast things were progressing, it didn't matter. I didn't get scared after the proposal, even after his decision to enlist. The military was something I had zero experience with prior, but knowing he was sworn in did not frighten me. We married the following June, about 11 months after we met. He was actually in another state for five months during our engagement. When he flew back into town for our wedding on Friday, June 15th, 2007, his flight was delayed and the airline lost his luggage with his Army blues inside.


So, since he had nothing to wear, and our family and friends had already been waiting for hours, we switched the ceremony and reception. Our guests ate first. I was stuck in my wedding dress, hiding away in some room in the church the entire time! It's all hilarious now, but in that moment, I was livid. Anxiety was at an all-time high. Then I received word that he was finally on his way. His brother, and our Best Man, drove him to their mother's house to find his Marine dress uniform. When they arrived at the church everyone was ready to go. So, it was time for me to walk down the aisle with my Dad. When my brothers opened those double doors I was amazed at the amount of bodies present, still there supporting us. It was a moment I'll never forget. I was sure that people left, but the room was full. After all of the craziness that day, our family and friends stuck by us through every minute of it. After our vows, we made it official, and had our cake. Part of the reception was June 15th, the wedding ceremony and cake was June 16th, and we didn't sign our marriage documents until Monday, June 18th, 2007. So, our legal anniversary is June 18th. Total mess, right?! Ha! We honeymooned in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.


About two weeks after our honeymoon ended we moved to Colorado Springs, CO, which was our first duty station as a married couple; also his first PCS in the Army. I was only 21 years old, so I was nervous to leave home and live with a man for the first time. I'm not going to lie, the first year was rough, just like most people say it is. That is true. It takes time to learn how to live with someone new, especially a partner. Marriage is work. And, some days I was not willing to accept how the Army does things, or how much he had to work. Here I am, a 21 year old, in a brand new state, not knowing what to do with myself while my husband works on the Air Force Base. Sometimes he worked for 10 hours, other days he'd be in the field for a few days. I was alone. So, I finally decided to find something to do. I ended up dealing with my first bout of depression because I felt alone a lot, and wasn't able to find work. I thought about going back to school, but had no idea where to start. I was on my own, even with a husband who loved me. Army comes first. No matter what anyone tells you. Army, then family. I was second. Once I figured out a plan I applied at a local college, and shortly after I applied at FedEx Ground again. I was accepted into my telecom program, and later that same month I was hired on at FedEx as a sorter. I was in school and working for about 6 months before I started my internships at news stations and the minor league baseball stadium as a top cam operator (same job I had at university). We only lived in Colorado Springs for three years. I accomplished a lot in a tight time frame. Doing so taught me how to hustle, network, and get multiple tasks done at once.


When those three years passed, we moved again, near Fort Bragg. Initially, I absolutely hated it. Such a contrast from our previous station so I isolated myself. I didn't experience depression, however I was alone again, but this time I was a vet, it was our second PCS. I knew more about how the Army operated, so that helped. He wasn't deployed until Bragg. Deployment was an emotional roller-coaster for me. I cried at Green Ramp in front of other spouses and children, and watched my man walk away from me to go to war not knowing if he'd return home alive or in a box. That was just the reality of the situation. I had never felt anything like that in my life. It was completely out of my control and I was terrified. Luckily, he was only gone for two months. I survived. He survived. I thanked God for a short deployment and took my soldier home. Reintegration was interesting, but we survived that too.


Through all of this hubs is just signing his contracts and dragging me along with him, lol. I love him dearly, but man did I hate his guts sometimes. He never understood the loneliness or obstacles I faced while he was active duty. It wasn't until after he got out that he started to acknowledge everything I had endured while he fought for this country. Through all of my fears, personal and professional, I was required to keep a brave face for him at all times. I was required to keep his stress level down because I never knew what he was going through internally as a result of combat. Being supportive in any marriage should be part of your foundation, but the support required to hold a soldier down is amplified simply because he has no one else. You become the sounding board, and sometimes whipping post, for his anxiety, anger, and sadness. It's a lot to manage.


We only lived on a military installation once, in Colorado, and it was unique, but nothing beats living outside of those gates. I needed my piece of freedom. He finally understood that too, so we moved into a house. We've been here for a few years now, but I am ready to move on. It's time to build our forever home and plant real roots. Ten years later, we are currently parted by thousands of miles, again, but distance changes nothing. We are still very much in love, probably more so now than when we started. 

First Podcast

Wednesday, August 2, 2017 by Charlin Janene

Photo Credit: @julufaded | Edited by Charlin Janene

So, earlier this afternoon I participated in my first audio-only podcast. I was invited via Instagram and didn't hesitate to schedule my time slot. The fact that I was worthy enough to be invited was a new feeling - I was eager. Eager to tell my story and be a part of something great, but I'll be honest, I was nervous. I even contemplated rescheduling, or canceling all together. I went to school for television and radio though, so what was my deal? I guess because I have been away from radio especially, for so long, I just felt out of practice. My interviewer had a British accent, so that was different and a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed it, it felt really good to be in the spotlight for a few minutes. I dig the fact that people want to know more about me; I'm always flattered. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

How Life Has Changed, Post-Military

Friday, August 25, 2017 by Charlin Janene

It hasn't been a year yet, but I can honestly say that my life is better. The biggest nuisance is healthcare copays and balances. When he was 'in' healthcare was completely free. There weren't any copays, for ANYTHING, let alone balances for office or ER visits. Prescriptions were free, x-rays, vaccines, you name it. Now I'm receiving annoying little shits of paper in the mail every week. Not feeling it. I used to be able to shop at the commissary whenever I wanted at deep discount prices (even cheaper than Walmart, people). No more of that either! Those are the two things that I miss THE most. Although the Army healthcare system is flawed - mostly slow, and they overbook, I kinda miss the chaos. Kinda. Since my husband still works for the Army, we still have installation access, but for me, it is pretty much pointless because I am not permitted to use any of the facilities with my pass. I no longer have a military ID, but he does.


If I had to choose between staying out or allowing him to re-enlist again, I'd say stay out. Life has been treating us extremely well since he got out. I cannot say the same for so many others we know who transitioned out of the Army back into the civilian world. You'd be surprised...a lot of service members think their service alone will get them any job they want once they get out. Not always the case. I'm proud of CJ for listening to me, lol. He was about to take a job at Time Warner Cable ya'll! Nooooope. I told him to be patient for a few more weeks and after some pushback he did. We literally went home to Ohio for 2 weeks to visit with my grandpa and while there, he received several job offers by phone and email. I told him he was better than TWC!! I am so thankful that he trusted me because our lives are so much better now! I was able to expand my business and we are able to travel more, which is something we've always wanted to do. The military always held us back on so many levels. We are truly free to do as we please. Things that were out of reach before aren't so far away anymore.


The biggest difference I've noticed within our marriage is less arguing. We used to go at it every week, sometimes over the dumbest stuff. The military can rip families apart if you let it. He would come home so stressed out some days and couldn't tell me what happened because of their stupid rules. So, I was constantly on the outside trying to figure out what was going on in his head. Now I don't think we've argued at all. I'm sure that living separately helps, somewhat, however even when he's home things are exactly the same - non-confrontational, no disagreements. So, I have no complaints in regards to how our relationship has changed, it has drastically improved.


We are happier than we've ever been, even happier than when we first got married 10 years ago. If you ask him, he'll agree with me. I hope...


...he better.


Hehe.

Motivation Behind Building My Own Website

Saturday, August 26, 2017 by Charlin Janene

Since I know how to do web coding and design I figured I'd do it myself. Why pay someone else to create MY personal website when I am skilled enough to handle the task myself? I didn't see the point, so I never hired anyone. Don't get me wrong, I have hired people to do various jobs for me, but this wasn't going to be one of them. I wanted to be able to say that this website is 100% my creation and not be responsible for giving anyone else credit. Website hosting is the route I chose. For various reasons - the main reason being I am in complete control over my content, how it is used & transferred. I also didn't like the fact that I would have to consistently contact the designer(s) to ask for modifications. Sometimes it takes days for a reply, and I am simply not very patient when it comes to getting things completed correctly. Maintaining the site takes a lot of time and precision at times, but it's worth the effort. The objective is to evolve. I am learning about new ways to appeal to consumers and how to simplify user-engagement yet remain efficient. It's a different playing field, something I barely dabbled in before. One thing has always kept me motivated & grounded - to never start something I don't intend on finishing. 


...here's to a bright future in my own webspace. 

How the Military Changed My Demeanor

Tuesday, September 5, 2017 by Charlin Janene

Before I married into the military I was a shy 20-year-old. But after spending years in the military's world it hardened me emotionally. I would shut certain people out of my life because they simply did not understand what I was going through. Constantly being misunderstood and judged was frustrating. If you don't live this life you just don't know how difficult day-to-day tasks can be. You don't know how hard it is to be away from your spouse for so many hours of everyday. You don't know what it's like to be forced to start over every few years. It used to make me so mad when family members would try to tell me to either calm down or don't allow certain things to bother you. They had no idea. And, I didn't see the point in explaining every little detail of my life. I needed understanding and plain ol' support with no strings or judgement. 


I have always been a reserved person, so whenever I am around new people, whether they speak to me or not, I keep to myself. That's just how I am. I think a lot. I analyze and gather my own information about situations and people around me. The fact that the military forced me to burst out of that shell a bit made me realize that I am a different person now. There were hardships and obstacles that we endured as a couple that quite frankly should have torn us apart. But we didn't allow it. I discovered that standing up for myself more often led to more results. I was so laid-back and lax before that I would just let certain things roll off my back. That is NOT how you get anything done. The military toughened me up. It doesn't only change the service members themselves - it changes their families as well. It was a learning experience, and I can appreciate some aspects of that life. My new found assertiveness has helped me in several ways, especially when doing business. A person's word means everything to me. So, if you say you'll do something and then you never do or you take forever to get it done, you are going to hear from me. 


Now that he's removed from the military we actually have complete freedom to do whatever, whenever. My demeanor is just totally different now, but there are still traces of the 'old me' that will remain forever. Growing up my biggest issue was confronting conflict or speaking up when things happened. I can honestly say that it's no longer a factor. I have actually become quite blunt. I think it is mostly because of the way my husband is. His patience and understanding allows me to speak up and express myself freely. I didn't necessarily have that kind of communication platform as a child. So, not only did the military change how I approached different situations, my husband helped shape the person I am today. For that, I am eternally grateful. 

The Best & Worst Summer of my Life

2018 by Charlin Janene

Coming soon...

Trip to O'ahu, Hawai'i + Los Angeles, California

I just returned from an eight day trip to Honolulu and LA. Hawai'i was gorgeous and like nothing I've ever seen before. I grew up in South Florida so the beaches, palm trees, and sea turtles were familiar, but the culture, people, and food was very different. I went hiking at the Manoa Falls Trail where I learned several movies were filmed in the park - including the first installment of Jurassic World and Avatar. One thing in particular that I noticed in both Hawai'i and LA was their shopping malls. The hallways and corridors are outside while the stores are indoor - unique! They reminded me of my elementary school in West Palm Beach, FL. Shopping was on another level. I received a gift from the Hermès shop. And, my husband LOVES Tesla, like I mean he is obsessed. So, it was fun watching him in their mall shop and how he interacted with my cousin who drives a Tesla. 


Los Angeles was incredible! I didn't have any real goals in mind in regards to places to go or things to do. Everything exceeded my expectations because my cousin is an amazing well-known figure in LA. This half of the trip literally changed my life! I was able to explore private clubs, parties - including Amber Rose's birthday bash, LA yoga, he introduced me to Brandless & Sugarfina Champagne Bears, and he even took me to a marketing office as a surprise which is where celebrities go to get fitted in the freshest threads before stepping on the red carpet. Who doesn't like free gear?! All because I mentioned a desire to go shopping. He made my first trip to LA unforgettable!! And, who doesn't like VIP tix to see Chris Brown live?! My cousin/big bro (Uncle's son) literally made a call to someone over at BET Experience and booked VIP tix same day of the performance. I had a blast in Los Angeles! So many unexpected but pleasant surprises that wouldn't have been possible without his 'star-power'. I miss LA. The food is amazing, I loved the art museums, and I loved the way the city made me feel! I haven't felt that way in a very long time. I belong in LA. :)

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