Category - Life

We Can Do Hard Things

From About a year ago my friend, Kasi, asked me if I wanted to go on a hiking trip with her. “My sisters are organizing a hike about forty miles along the Lower Rogue River from Grants Pass, OR, toward Gold Beach, OR. We would stay in lodges along the way, where they provide all the food. Would you be interested in doing it with me?” Kasi asked me one Sunday at church. “Sure, it sounds like fun to me!” Was my eager response, not sure if she was actually serious or not. A few weeks later Kasi provided more information about the trip, I paid her the money, and I started training. No way did I want to go on a forty-mile, four-day hike unprepared. Day 1: Kasi and I at the trailhead ready to start the hike July 14, 2018, we set out on our four-day, forty-mile (which turned out to be more like fifty miles, according to all of our tracking devices) hike along the Wild and Scenic Rogue River. Our hiking party included me, Kasi, her two sisters and their husbands, a woman and her boyfriend, (no one in the group knew), who were last minute add-ons due to a last minute cancellation, and two friends of Kasi’s oldest sister, Lisa and Sandy. Kasi was the only one I knew prior to our adventure. Standing at the trailhead, full of a hearty breakfast from Black Bear Diner, my boots laced up, and my pack all cinched down on my back, I felt ready to conquer the hike ahead of us. Three miles into the hike I started feeling some burning on my left heel, it was a blister starting to form. During our stop for lunch at a place called Whiskey Creek I pulled off my boots to inspect my heels. Both of them were forming blister, but they were very small and weren’t really causing a problem, yet. I did the best I could to get bandaids and moleskin on both heels, in hopes of stopping the blisters from getting any worse. Early on in the hike before the blisters We ate our lunch at Whiskey creek (at that point I could have used a shot of whiskey) and headed on our way back onto the trail. Another mile or so in, on a somewhat steep decent I felt something in my right upper calf/knee area. It felt like a sharp pain, but I did not want to stop or let anyone in our hiking party know I was having some pain (turns out I pulled my calf muscle). I barely knew anyone in the group and I did not want to be any kind of a weak link. Heels on fire, as each step made my blisters get worse, and pain in my right calf I trudged on the remaining five miles or so before our first stop at Black Bear Lodge. When we arrived the lodge they had freshly baked chocolate chip cookies (my favorite) and lemonade waiting. I quickly devoured a couple of cookies and gulped down some lemonade before hobbling off to find our cabin for the night. Once in our cabin I grimaced as I loosened my boots the best I could before I pulled them off. My heels were completely rubbed raw from my boots and the terrain of the day. Sitting on my bed in the cabin I wondered to myself how I was going to make it through the next day, our longest day of hiking at about fourteen miles (turned out to be more like seventeen), with these horrible blisters and my aching calf. Every step from mile three that day was painful. I could not imagine putting those boots back on in the morning and walking another step, let alone fourteen miles. Attending to my blisters along the way As evening approached I put on my Keen Newport H2 sandals (I was so grateful I had brought with me, and  will now always carry with me in my backpack) careful not to put the heel strap on my foot and headed down to the main lodge for dinner with our group and a group of rafters, who had been floating down the river while we hiked. We sat at the table talking, laughing, and comparing sore spots. I let those sitting closest to me take a look at my heels. Everyone made a grimacing face, and felt bad for my misfortune from the day. Kasi’s oldest sister, Lisa, recommended I put bandaids, moleskin, and tape on my heels for the hike the next day and that I wear my Keen sandals.  “I’m not sure I want to wear my Keens though because the heel strap is right where my blisters are.” I said with some concern. “Yeah, but at least it will stay in place and not rub your heel anymore. The problem with your boots is that with each step you take they are rubbing your heels.” Lisa explained. That night I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out in my mind how I was going to get out of the rest of the hike. There was no road access to the lodge, the only way being by raft. There was a rafting group with us at the lodge, but they were full. I knew my only option was to keep hiking the next day, and then the next two after that. Plus, I did not want to give up, I wanted to finish the hike I started. I thought more about what Lisa said about my boots, and by morning I was convinced to give my Keens a shot. I could not even bear the thought of putting my boots back on. The start of day two was a steep almost straight up climb of about an eighth of a mile back to the main trail. Kasi was behind me, asking me several times how my heels were doing. I could not believe it, but they felt great. The morning had brought me a renewed spirit and attitude, and with little pain in my heels or calf, I felt ready to conquer the day. Feeling good in my Keens and socks. Who cares if I looked like a dork I felt charged and energized the entire day as we trekked along and ever changing scenery of fields, forests, and rocks along the Rogue River. During a few miles of the day Kasi and I hiked with her sister Lisa’s two friends, Lisa and Sandy. Her friends were the oldest in the group and the least fit, but they were making it along just fine, with great attitudes (they even brought their ukuleles on the trip entertaining us in the evenings playing and singing). During a few spots of the hike there were a couple of very steep areas close to the edge of cliffs. Lisa needed help traversing these areas. So Kasi and I would help her by passing her backpack to each other and then giving her a hand of support as she went over the steeper areas. We all ended up making it to Marial lodge, our next stop. At that lodge they had beer, and we all enjoyed one (some enjoyed a lot more than one) as we looked over the river from the deck of the lodge. I felt such a sense of relief and accomplishment for making it through the day with relatively little pain. That night we devoured another truly amazing dinner and enjoyed each other’s company, and the company of a few other hikers who joined us at the lodge. Trekking along Over the next few days we completed our forty (or really about fifty) mile adventure, taking in all the beauty of the area and soaking up the experience. Along the way as one person in the group struggled others would encourage and lift them up to continue on. As we all kept adding blisters to our feet we shared our supplies of bandaids, moleskin, and tape. We shared stories about our lives, bonding as we hiked along the trail. Overall, the trip was an amazing experience that I will always treasure. The beauty of everything we saw left me inspired and renewed. Though I don’t really see anyone from our hike expect for Kasi, I formed bonds that will last a lifetime. I liked this sign at the last lodge we stayed at. The statement really resonates with me The hike last summer along the Wild and Scenic Rogue River was something of a metaphor for my life as a military wife. It reminded me that I can and have done hard things. There were times during the hike I was pushed to my breaking point, but I found a way to make it through, just like so many times as a military wife. There were many times during deployments that I didn’t think I could make it. I just wanted out, just like I did that first day of the hike. I wasn’t ever in physical pain, like on the hike, but I did have mental and emotional struggles. There were days I felt completely exhausted, but I found ways to push through, just like I did on that hike. I had other military wives, family, and friends around me lifting me up, similar to the ways those on the hike helped me, or the way I helped them on the hike. I made friends and formed bonds along the way just like I did as a military wife. Doing the hard parts of the hike led to experiences and beauty I never would have seen had I not taken the risk, not done the hard things. Similarly doing the hard things as a military wife led me to experiences that have helped shape who I am. Doing the hard things helped me to find strength I never knew I had. We all have more strength than we think we do Military life is not easy, there are hard things all the time, much harder than anything I experienced on the hike. Whether its a PCS, a deployment, a KIA, a struggling child, there are many hard things in military life. It is during those hard times we have to dig deep within ourselves to find the strength to go on, to thrive. It is during those hard times we lean on our support system, for the strength we need. When we do hard things we discover more about who we are and find beauty in life that we might never expect. No matter where you are in life, especially you military wives, keep at it, it may not be easy, but we can do hard things. We made it! The end of the trail.  A group shot after we completed the entire hike I am a stay-at-home mom and aspiring writer. I was a Special Forces wife for twelve years until my husband retired in 2014. I currently live on a very small farm outside of Portland, OR, with my three kids, two goats, ten chickens, a cat, a dog, and a bunny. You can find my blog at I can also be found at: Instagram: @jodimauldin, Twitter: @jodimauldin, Facebook: Jodi Niswender Mauldin Email: Connect with us on Facebook!

Permission Granted to Purchase Your Sanity During Deployment

My husband deployed shortly after our wedding, leaving me behind with very little knowledge about anything related to military life. And while he was deployed, our country went to war. Not being able to communicate regularly (or at all) with my service member on his submarine meant that it was one big guessing game when it came to extra pay. All I knew was that when I checked our account at the ATM during the deployment, a giant figure popped up (to my 22-year old eyes). This was significantly larger than it had been just weeks before on our Maui honeymoon, where we’d stopped at Taco Bell for cheap eats. Me: Well, I guess the government is extremely appreciative of my husband’s service, and is rewarding us with a generous financial contribution…cha-ching!! NOT SO FAST You can imagine my surprise when he returned home from deployment and was informed that his name had mistakenly been grouped with those who had re-enlisted while underway. The bonus he had wrongly received would have to be returned. Come on, man! Ultimately, he was due family separation allowance, combat zone, and sea pay, which altogether might add up to a monthly car payment. That’s when I learned a valuable lesson as a military spouse: There is a slight bump in pay during deployment, but not as much as you might think. Much has been written on saving this money, budgeting, and being financially wise during deployments. You know what hasn’t been said as much? That keeping your sanity for months on end while acting as sole entertainer of children day in and day out requires some cash flow. Temporarily suspend your frugal ways If you’re anything like me, you shop at the Commissary to save on groceries, you Redbox movies because the theater isn’t as cheap as it used to be, and you haven’t indulged in spa treatments for yourself in years because it seems more practical to spend that money on your kids’ soccer cleats and dance classes. Well, enter deployment. There are simply a lot of hours in the day, you don’t need me to remind you of that. And since nobody is coming through the door in the evening to entertain the kids while you put your feet up for a hot second, throwing money at your problems is temporarily justified.

Tying the Knot: A Beautiful Guide for the Military Bride

Congratulations! You are getting married. And you won’t be just any bride; you will be a military bride. Planning for your big day in the military comes with its own set of challenges like communicating through deployments, meeting and hosting soon-to-be family members for the first time and maybe you just arrived to your new duty station or must prepare to move while also planning your wedding. Never fear! Military Spouse is coming to the rescue with a few tips to show you how to easily flip those challenges into the most memorable moment of your life. The Look! This is probably the most stressed about part of the whole shebang. With much planning ahead of time, it truly does not have to be. The key is to determine your look early and set your goals accordingly. Even if you have to make changes later, altering with a plan in place makes changes a little easier to handle. Great Skin for the Perfect Day 1. Begin a skincare routine as soon as possible: If you never had a system in place before, hop on. We are making up for lost time!  A routine is not only great maintenance, but it also serves as preparation for something to come. A routine tells your skin, “I’m offering consistency in order to achieve the results we both want.” Your skin essentially has accepted your offering by giving you positive results in return. A routine will also make it easier for your skin to come back in balance after your big day of makeup, spirits, and stress which may all cause some breakouts in the following days. Find professional products that will not waste your time, money and efforts. We have a wedding to plan and no time for any of those extra problems. 2. Seek help: If you have reoccurring breakouts or other skin conditions, now is also the time to find help with those. Depending on how severe your condition, you may need some downtime to heal in order to reach the glowing skin you seek for the big day. Speak with your skincare specialist about your specific needs and ask about working within your budget. 3. Rest and hydration: Great skin does not happen overnight, but night is when your skin does its best work. A lack of sleep results in dull skin complexion, inflammation, and deepening of wrinkles in the skin. Yes, planning a wedding can be time consuming, but try not to lose sleep as the damage can be far greater than the reward. Drinking water is a necessity even when you are not planning a wedding. It helps to flush the toxins out of your body and reduce inflammation. The result can be supple and glowing skin. At this time, you may have included a fitness routine in preparation for your wedding making water intake even more important. 4. Breathe: Stress is inevitable when it comes to planning any wedding. Stress is also horrible for your skin. Our face has stress zones where we see those big, red, often painful pimples appear when we become stressed. These zones are on our forehead and cheeks (because there really is no place more noticeable than these areas, right?). Stress also brings about sleep deprivation and the occasional cold sore. Great! This list is to alleviate unnecessary stress, but it is also important to cope with stress in healthy ways as situations arise. Are you dealing with constant TDYs or broken communication with your partner? Maybe a vendor fell through or the RSVPs are not coming in a timely manner. Breathe. Set aside time to spend time alone. Meditate and focus on nothing but your breathing. This will take you away from the problems at hand and put you back in control. From here, you can brainstorm some ways to alter the plan and make things work. You got this! 5. Glo Up: So, we are working on turning our face into that of a porcelain doll, but what about the actual glam-face for that magical day? Shop around for your makeup artist as early as four months prior. Finding one by word of mouth is best, so you will have first hand accounts of what to expect with this individual. Did they arrive on time? Were they good under pressure? Was the work done as expected? These questions are necessary because you have to be able to trust this person to take you beyond your normal everyday look to feeling and looking amazing to yourself and everyone else. Your artist may add just a tad bit more than your everyday makeup look. Set your limits, but also know that professional makeup artists understand exactly how much is needed in order to have you show-up the best for photos and from afar. Speak with her about how she plans to protect your skin prior to makeup application to ensure your skin can return to its healthiest state once your day is complete. She may discuss several primers which are applied after your moisturizer and before your makeup to create a barrier and smooth surface between your pores and makeup products. You should also be prepared to do a couple of practice runs to master your ideal look in a timely manner on the day of your wedding. The Hair Pro tip for wedding day hair:  Just like great skin, great hair starts on the inside out. Drinking plenty of water and finding the right vitamin for you is ideal for healthy beautiful hair. Talk to your hairstylist about the processes you both can work on during the time before your wedding to achieve your look for your wedding day. Maybe you want to go for a lighter color- make this change in stages instead of going blonde in one day. Slow changes maintain the health of your hair. Speak to your stylist about practice runs for the look you want. This way, both timing and the look can be perfected before your big day.

Met, Married, and He Was Never My Boyfriend

Here’s our military marriage story. Today you will hear our spectacular love story ONLY from my side. (I have that advantage right now!) If my hubby had any less than complimentary thoughts about me during our process then he’ll have to tell his story on his own time. “Daddyyyy can I have $300?” – Hubby That’s the first thing I ever remember hearing him say. He was imitating Hilary Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. We were about 12 but we’d been around each other since we were 6 and I only knew him as the quiet light-skinned boy. But that day I asked him to repeat it over & over because he was surprisingly hilarious! After that he was his usual quiet self, so I looked the other way since I was more outgoing. What I didn’t know was that he was crushing on me already… “He keeps trying to tell me something but I’m scared to hurt his feelings. I just don’t like him like that.” – Me At 22yrs old, he was stationed back in our hometown and he casually asked me to a basketball game and dinner. I legit thought we were just hanging out because of his relaxed easygoing demeanor. I’d been on THREE dates with this guy and I had NO CLUE they were dates. Then one night when he ate a bite of my food off my fork, it all made sense. He LIKED me. Once he expressed his feelings I had to be honest. We couldn’t be together for 3 reasons: I was just out of a relationship and wasn’t ready.As organic as our interaction was and as much as I loved his company, I didn’t share his romantic feelings.I was NOT the type to lead a guy on. (Plus I cared too much for him to hurt him like that.) “I am not attracted to him at all…BUT I LOVE HIM! I’d marry him today if he asked me!” – Me Those are the exact words I said to my sister. The guy who genuinely liked me, who made me laugh hysterically, who kept me on the phone til 4am and who made me feel the most comfortable of any other guy I had ever been with had left me alone. He understood that I wasn’t ready, and he decided to move on. Looking back now and describing the impact he had on me I can see how I was dumb to let him go. But trust me, we weren’t ready for each other. But I missed him. Then this craziness occurred. I started to SEE him. The entire time I had only thought of him as the boy I knew. Now I made space to know the man. And I loved him. So the attraction came…but he was gone. After 6 years, we reconnected. And although we were both single we had NO INTENTIONS of dating (which we made clear). We’d both had failed relationships and were mistreated by the people we were with so we were good alone. However…we started talking everyday, then every night. After about a month of fun conversing, our parents started bringing up marriage and shocked both of us. My mom: “If you’re going to get married let me know.” His mom: “Did you get married today? I just want to be in the loop!” What the heck? Then for my dad to say it really blew me away. “I know who your husband is.” – My daddy Yes, my feelings were budding because I finally decided to allow them, but no one knew. I didn’t even tell him. He finally got it out of me during one of our late night convo’s. I played dumb… Me: “Do about what?” Him: “Look. I like you and I know you like me. Admit it.” Me: “Ok I like you, so now what?” Truth is, I didn’t like him. I loved him and wanted to be his forever. But how do you say that to someone who isn’t even your boyfriend? “Let’s do it!” (Picture by our 6 year old daughter) The best part of our story was when we didn’t let what other people would think effect our decision. We spent a weekend together so I could accompany him to the Marine Corps ball. This was also our time to see how our chemistry was together. It was completely organic. The night after I got back home he proposed. Not in the traditional way. He simply said, “I’ve been thinking about marrying you, and I was thinking of reasons why we wouldn’t do it. The only thing I can come up with is time.” Me: “What do you think about that?” Him: “That’s not a good enough reason. LET’S DO IT!” Me: “OK” (Smiling so hard my face hurt) Exactly two months after we reconnected, we were standing in front of a judge vowing to love, honor and respect each other forever! Over 10 years married now and we still mean every word of those vows. So glad I chose the one who was never my boyfriend. He was always meant to be my husband! Connect with us on Facebook!