Memorial Day Weekend, 2017

Every Memorial Day Weekend I take time to reflect on the Service Members that paid the ultimate price. As you enjoy your long weekend, sales, BBQ’s, and family time, take a moment to remember how we got those freedoms. Men and women who willingly put on a uniform gave their lives to insure our continued freedom. Take a moment to remember them.

DSCN4755 Death Registers at Enduring Freedom Chapel at Bagram, Afghanistan. 

I invite you to check out a previous Memorial Day post I’ve made. It contains a piece of poetry about Memorial Day I wrote while serving in Iraq in 2009. https://storyofmylife.blog/2016/05/28/memorial-day-weekend/

I also invite you to check out another post I made while serving in Afghanistan that gives insight to the ceremony for the fallen of the NATO and Coalition Forces. https://storyofmylife.blog/2013/09/04/the-ceremony/

DSCN3370 The set-up for the weekly ceremony at ISAF in Kabul, Afghanistan that honors the fallen.  Only the countries with killed-in-action have their flag displayed during the ceremony.  The U.S. flag was displayed every ceremony I attended.  We gave a lot over there.

But most of all, I ask that you pause for a moment in your busy weekend and be grateful for the ones that gave their lives so that the rest of us didn’t have to.

Good day, God bless.

Dave

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My First Paid Gig

I skipped posting last week. And I’m running late getting this one done. I have been busy, tired, and have a lot on my plate. But with two days off in a row from work, I feel recharged. This is the first time in at least a month, probably two, that I’ve had two days off in a row that didn’t involve having to go to an army reserve weekend. This is just what I needed. A little relaxation, some much needed time with my kids, and catching up on some things that I’ve been needing to do.

One of those things I desperately need to catch up on is writing more in my novel. I haven’t worked on it as much as I should, but it’s still there. I worked on it some recently, just not enough. But, the story is writing itself in my head every day. I can see the whole thing coming together. It’s just hard sometimes to put all the words to it in the right order when I sit down at the laptop, or to find the time to sit down at the laptop. For those of you who write, you know exactly what I mean.

I do have some exciting news to share about my writing. I secured my first contract. It’s not a normal writing assignment, but I will be getting paid. I found a site where writers can browse job offers and decided to give it a try. I was offered a 5-week job that involves hosting a forum for three hours at a time, once a week. I will be answering questions about a topic of my choosing from readers that are interested. Apparently, this is not new, although I’ve never heard of it before, but my 20-year-old son tells me this a thing. And I get paid to do it. It’s not much, but it’s a start. And I’ve submitted proposals to other more traditional writing jobs that I found. We’ll see how that works out. I doubt I’ll get to quit my day job any time soon, but I can dream, right?

I’m very excited about this. My first forum, that happens Monday night, already has over 300 RSVP’s to it. Wow. I’m not sure how it all works, but I am looking forward to it. I’m hoping that more contracts are to follow, of various types of writing work. But for now, I’m completely stoked about my first paid gig. I’ll attach the link to what I’m doing in case any of you would like to check it out. I know it’s short and sweet this week, but thank you for reading. Hopefully, I’ll be back on track next week with my postings. Good day, God bless.

https://militaryama.com/my-name-is-dave-im-a-military-veteran-of-iraq-and-afghanistan-i-had-some-153549/

Dave

The Frustration of Stress

Stress is the difference between expectations and my view of reality.” ~Chuck Waryk.

That resonated with me when Chuck put those words in that order on the phone a couple of weeks ago. I think I knew that already, but I don’t think I fully understood what that could mean until I heard it phrased that way. He and I served in Afghanistan together. He and I both know the stresses of serving in a war zone, where we were most certainly under stress. But when I think back to that time, I don’t remember being overly stressed with the situations in which I found myself. Here’s why. I didn’t find it as stressful as life now because in Afghanistan I anticipated the enemy to launch and fire at us. It was reality. It was expected. And every time I traveled from my home base to somewhere else, there was at least one attack per trip. Often more than once a day, and occasionally for consecutive days.  https://storyofmylife.blog/2016/03/19/the-fear-in-the-eyes/

I think the first part of stress after war is expecting everything to go back to normal after returning home. I know that’s not possible, maybe it was more wishful thinking on my part, but I think I expected it to be so. I expect the VA to take care of the mental and physical injuries I sustained over there. I expect my Army Reserve Unit to do the things they need to do to either find a way to keep me in or put me out. I expect my body and mind to function as it did before I deployed.

I have a lot of expectation. Or, I should say, I HAD a lot of expectations. The reality of some of the above-mentioned issues make it painfully obvious that my expectations were lofty and unrealistic. Or, at the very least that my time-frame for those expectations are out of sync with reality. Things are moving forward with the VA and the Army Reserves for me, but much slower than I want it to. But it doesn’t stress me like it used to, because I have a new view of what the reality of those issues are. Although, the VA giving me a 30-day supply of medication, but making my next appointment almost 50 days away is stressful. Just so everyone knows, I’ll only be on my medications every other day until the end of the month so as not to run out and have to miss a longer, consecutive block of time taking them.

The thing that bothers me the most is that my mind and body will never be what they once were. That leads to frustration. Stress is the result of external circumstances that can have mental and physical effects. Frustration comes from the inability to change or achieve something. I can’t change it and that frustrates me. But I don’t feel the stress of it like I used to. I have accepted that I cannot change certain things. At my civilian job, I have told everyone I work with that my mind doesn’t work like it used to and to bear with me if my words don’t always make sense or if I have to stop and think for a moment to finish a task. And especially if I forget what you just told me because I’m actively engaged in a task and I have trouble concentrating on multiple things. I have found that being open and honest with my mental issues has greatly reduced my frustration with myself.  https://storyofmylife.blog/2016/06/04/memories-and-afghanistan/

While I’m doing better with accepting that the VA is a mess, that the Army Reserves is slow and sometimes incapable of taking care of Soldiers, and that my mind and body are well-worn, I still have work to do in other areas. People still get on my nerves. Lazy people who don’t do their jobs, people who don’t put the shopping cart back and just leave it next to their car, or people in the next hotel room over who are keeping me awake at 4 in the morning because they’re arguing and threatening to kill each other. I have no use for any of these people in my life. Their laziness and lack of respect for other human beings is frustrating to me. Yes, I just equated leaving the shopping cart in the parking lot to the drunken rage of a guy threatening to kill someone causing me to lose already illusive sleep. But that’s my life and view on things. I’m being open and honest. And it feels good.

All in all, I’m continuing to find ways to cope with stress, which in turn reduces my level of frustration. And I think taking a realistic view of reality is a huge help. Thank you, Chuck, for the wise, inspiring words. It made me think about how I view the world around me and adjust fire.  https://storyofmylife.blog/2016/05/21/im-ok-i-promise/

Thank you all for reading Story of My Life this week. Feel free to leave feedback and let me know you were here. Good day, God bless.

Dave