Tuesday Thoughts of No Return (#58)
In my last newsletter, I wrote 2020 had been the year of transitions. 2021 is the year of no return.
But first, let me provide a little context for this letter. I just finished reading Pick Three by Randi Zuckerberg. Randi acknowledges our limited time and provides five categories, of which we choose three each day, as a way to balance our priorities and make our lives sustainable. One highlight in the "Friends" category really stood out to me:
"To prevent friendships from becoming superficial, you can't relegate your conversations to superficial topics:
'Really keep your friends up to date when you talk. So many times during my freshman year, I would catch up with my high school friends and realize I had somehow just not told them about something pretty significant that had happened in my life. It made them feel like I had purposely kept something important from them, which probably made them doubt our bond.'”
These are the significant things happening in my life. (And, welcome to the newcomers that have joined during my current absence! This newsletter WILL return once my military deployment is complete.)
I woke up on January 1st at Ft. Hood with a text saying my COVID results had been posted. I tested positive. I would be delayed, deploying after my unit and the Soldiers I'm directly responsible for. As a result, I've spent the last several months "leading from the rear" as urgency required us to surge other personnel into Afghanistan while I eventually joined our supporting element in Qatar.
Lingering COVID effects have led me back to the doctor a few times since then. My most recent visit was more than 90 days since I was officially "COVID recovered," which meant my symptoms required another test. By the time you're reading this, I just finished quarantining a second time for COVID (and I was already vaccinated).
If it was a new occurrence, the J&J vaccine prevented experiencing any actual symptoms this time. But it's also possible to continue testing positive for quite a while, hence the Army discourages additional testing for 90 days following a positive result. My concern, are these symptoms my new normal?
That said, my daily activities have not been impacted. I've even completed a virtual 26-mile Bataan Death March under the grueling Qatari sun with a group of my Soldiers and several British allies.
The best part of this deployment? We will be the last American Soldiers, hopefully ever, to serve in Afghanistan. We have the challenge and distinction to be the last watch on Hadrian's Wall.
My Soldiers have done incredible, life-saving work, but this experience has been the most challenging leadership experience of my 17 years of military service. Between dealing with COVID, travel restrictions, physical separation and proximity, politics, interpersonal conflicts, serious Soldier issues, and my own shortcomings, there are some doubts and regrets I will inevitably need to come to terms with.
Regardless, I will continue to try my best to take care of my Soldiers until our mission is complete.
Alright, back to the positives.
I'll share my wife Tiffany's announcement from February first:
I’m so happy and blessed to announce that Scott and I are debt-free! I rarely get personal online; but, I hope this will inspire others. Here’s my debt-free journey: As a single woman, I made it my business to save as much as I could in case I couldn’t work for some reason. This led to me carrying quite a bit of student loan debt. Last January, my then fiancé signed us up for Dave Ramsey’s course. All I can say is it was life-changing. I thought I was good with money; but, learned a lot through the course. It led to me immediately writing a number of checks to pay off my student loans and a car loan. Once married, Scott and I aggressively tackled the house. Now, less than two years after purchasing my (now our) dream home, a year after Dave Ramsey and before the age of 40, we’re debt-free!!!! Now, my goal of slowing down and/or retiring by 50 is that much closer to becoming a reality! I am so happy and proud. Thanks, Dave and Scott! If you’ve ever considered taking Dave’s course, do it!
And, then the grand finale: Tiffany and I are expecting a little girl in July. I've missed nearly the entire process, but Army permitting, I'll be there for the birth. Fortunately, we're located near both our parents who are awesome.
We've passed the point of no return and life will never be the same.
What are the significant events of your 2021 thus far? Has it been what you hoped or expected?
Quote of the Week
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
- Reinhold Niebuhr, Serenity Prayer
Until next time, stay safe, sane, and intentional.