I’ve been on a long social media hiatus…some of you have been wondering what’s happened. This is an overview of the last few months:
After a year and half of traveling, writing, and pursuing the establishment of a Ministry; I found myself once again low on funds (late February), that’s when I got an email from an acquaintance inquiring if I was interested in orders to III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) to be the Deputy G-6 for a few months.
I hesitated to say “yes”, the weather was just starting to get nice and I was looking forward to getting back outdoors. However, I needed the money and progress with the Ministry was at a stand still. Plus, I had fond memories of my time on Okinawa so I agreed to go.
My orders ended up being delayed by a couple of weeks, so I made the best of it and spent some time exploring Colorado’s Front Range area. It’s also when I established Actionable Change. The Marines United fiasco fired me up. I couldn’t believe female Marines still had to deal with that kind of behavior/complete crap. I felt it was my duty to do something. I wanted to be part of finally changing the culture for the future generations. Actionable Change took a life of its own and was my primary focus when I finally left for Okinawa.
Unfortunately, my arrival to Okinawa was not exactly a smooth one and I had underestimated the transition that awaited me. The shift back to being Lieutenant Colonel Bernard and a MEF Deputy G-6 created a steep adjustment from the previous 18 months. My decisions went from the irrelevant outcome of what mountain biking trails to ride, to finding myself in my boss’ shoes as the MEF G6 (because he went TAD shortly after I got on deck) answering questions and making decisions with vast greater consequences.
Every time I’ve put the uniform back on, I’ve served in an active duty capacity making it important to me that no one sees any difference between me and my active duty counterparts. I always carry the weight of two labels “woman” and “reservist.” Obliterating the potential stigma of those labels once again, meant a lot of catching up to what I’d missed and what was going on, while taking charge of the G6 staff, in an extremely short period of time.
The factor of being on Okinawa…also created some other challenges. Being a single LtCol on Oki led to experiencing a type of isolation and loneliness I had never known before—it also didn’t helped that it rained every day my first month there.
I’d been living such a fabulous life of travel and outdoor activities—a new me had bloomed that sought a certain lifestyle—which was none existent on Okinawa. I had none of my coping mechanism to keep my life balanced, so I threw myself entirely into the work that needed to be done. My emotional, physical, and spiritual health suffered. Professionally, I strived.
I couldn’t believe I had fallen into my old pattern again (being a workaholic). I became disappointed and frustrated with myself, which wasn’t at all helpful. I finally just broke and went numb/blank, putting an end to my willingness to feel (beat myself up). My life centered on tasks and to do lists that needed to be completed. There was some satisfaction to be gained from it, but it meant I was incredibly unbalanced.
I came off Facebook shortly after arriving to Oki because the noise and BS was entirely too much and insanely futile to be involved in when I had so much to accomplish. Unfortunately, I also couldn’t keep my involvement with Actionable Change because of the steep hill I was climbing at work getting back into the groove and getting things the way I wanted them. By the time my orders were up, my boss was asking me to stay on, I had made my mark, and I was leaving things better than I’d found them.
I really liked III MEF, the leadership set an excellent example and command climate, but Okinawa was simply not for me. I had to leave, I just wasn’t coming back the same.
Today, I’m in the Rocky Mountain town of Telluride, Colorado. I’ve been spending the last week mountain biking, hiking, and reconnecting with the things I love in order to understand the meaning of my time in Okinawa and figure out what’s next for me.
Initially, I continued to feel nothing and mostly just heard white noise of irrelevancy to include my own thoughts and feelings…but I’m slowly returning to the issues that matter and provide me meaning, no matter how distorted they’ve become in society today.
There is one colossal outcome/event pending that will set the course of the next few years for my life, which is absolutely out of my hands, and that I’ve done almost entirely nothing to sway in the way I want it to turn out because I simply had never cared about it before…
So you know, who knows…it’s in God’s hands. Meanwhile, I’m going to keep squeezing what I can from what’s left of summer. Perhaps by the time my birthday comes along, I’ll know what my “new normal” is.