I am sorry in advance for how long this post is & how it may not make sense to the majority of people reading. It’s late & my thoughts are all over the place still about leaving the military life, but I’ve been asked several times over the past 5 months to share how getting out of the military was for Mr. LMB & I. I say for “us” even though he was the one serving our country, not me, only because the military effects all involved. Being a military wife was a great honor. I was [and still am beyond belief] so proud of my husband for choosing to serve his country to the best of his ability everyday for 10 years. We went through countless months away from each other, deployments, weeks where I wouldn’t hear from him & wonder if something was wrong, long hours, & lots of ups and downs. It’s not an easy life, but nothing easy is that wonderful anyways. The trials made us stronger & for that I am thankful. Our marriage is like something I could never describe. The strength, love, respect, & friendship is so deeply rooted thanks to the Marine Corps for making that happen & making it happen so quickly. I am thankful for our eight years of marriage while he was in the Marine Corps & the transition out is just another step in our lives that has it’s ups & downs as well. We have both had to transition out of the military life & these past 5 months has been a journey all in itself.
Rewind to September of 2007. I was 19. I was about to marry the love of my life that I met when I was 16, my best friend. He was away in North Carolina finishing up schooling in the Marine Corps & I was a college student in Michigan. We had just gone through 2 years of a long distance relationship that was difficult at times, but only made us stronger, & we were about to make a promise under God to each other that would bind us together for the rest of our lives. Best decision I have ever made. The day after we said our vows on September 29th 2007 I was officially a Marine wife & I’m so thankful that I didn’t know what was in store for me because I’m scared I may have waisted my life worrying or may even have dreaded this beautiful journey we were about to begin. The day after our wedding we packed up our stuff & headed south. I was officially a North Carolinian & waved goodbye to my family & friends. I had no idea how long I would be gone for or where the military would take us, but I’m glad I didn’t know because my faith grew through trusting God that wherever He took us. we would have each other & Him. Which is still the case today & I’m so happy to where he has taken us throughout the years.
I won’t walk you through all of the details of our entire time married in the military because, while I don’t think it would be boring because it was quite the adventure, quite frankly some details are better left in the past or even better, in my future biography. Anyways it went something like this in short & with terrible grammar & punctuation… When we arrived in NC the day after our wedding there was no room for us in base housing [which we chose to live in base housing that was actually off base just because we were young & thought it would be the best decision. It was!] so we lived in a hotel on base for a few weeks. Newlyweds in a pretty run down hotel living off soup and peanut butter sandwiches, it was really magical. Minus the cockroaches. Hey, when you are 19 & newly married you really don’t care because all you see is honeymoon bliss. I’m thankful for those days in the hotel. We shortly moved into a newly built town home that we thought was the greatest house on the planet & I painted our dining room red, then green [it’s true! I used color on our walls at one point!], a few weeks later Jose left for a month. I was 19 alone & it was just me and my shitzu bella that he had just bought me so I wouldn’t be lonely & that began me being super independent & finding myself & some new friends. He left a lot to different states and countries for a few weeks here and a few weeks there throughout the beginning of our marriage. Fast forward to our first deployment. He went to Japan for 7 months. I always had a job so I worked while he was gone & stayed in NC also attending business school. We skyped daily & I ate a lot of frozen corn dogs. We wrote letters, he worked on jets over seas, & while he was out on the ocean I barely heard from him unless he ported in different countries. He came home & it was the greatest reunion & I could never explain that awesome feeling to anyone. The adjustment to him coming home was always weird because your life changed dramatically again, but we always did it pretty smoothly & we were just happy to be together again. While he was in NC he was in the fleet where he worked on jets [he’s a smart dude so this is the job he did while he was in the Marine Corps most of the time] the hours were long & it was trying on us, but it made us really enjoy our moments together & I’m thankful for that. Fast forward a year later & he deployed again. This one was harder, longer, & had less communication. He was on a boat the entire time & barely ported [ in fact they each won an award for longest time at sea since world war 2. Crazy.] While he was in Haiti helping them after the huge earthquake in 2010 I was moving us out of our town home all by myself. I said goodbye to that first home of ours & drove home to Michigan just me & Bella in my jeep through snow storms for 17 hours. I worked while I was home for a few months & being home helped pass the time. I forgot to mention that before I came home to Michigan while he was deployed I signed on our house to be built while I was in Michigan. So while I was thousands of miles away in a different state, our home was being built in NC. When I arrived back in NC our house was almost done &I stayed with my best friend for a few weeks before I could move in. I moved in in the dead of summer & a few months later Mr. LMB came home one glorious day. It was the best homecoming ever & it would be our last. After he came home a while later we got news that his dad was dying. We rushed home to Michigan & the week we were here he passed away. That is the week [over 3 years ago] that we decided it was time to leave the military & move back to Michigan. Jose still had 3 years left on his contract so he became a teacher [instructor] in the marine corps & taught new and upcoming marines the job he had done for 6 years prior. We loved it. It was non-deployable, amazing hours, & lots of time together. I was in design school at this time & my classes overlooked the ocean. We literally could see dolphins from our classroom. We both started our love for building furniture & DIY & I started my blog which became my passion. Those three years were amazing & I will never forget the amazing memories we made during that time. 6 months before his three years were up we sold the home we had built while he was deployed & moved into a historic downtown rental. It was like a vacation home. Right on the water, walking distance to everything, & perfect for decorating & doing DIY projects for my blog. Those 6 months in that home were awesome & I miss that rental daily. The movers came and packed us up in late November & took all our stuff away to meet us in Michigan. We lived in the big rental for a few days with it completely empty. & we had to say goodbye to Newbern that had been our home for so long. The city where we basically grew up in & where we held so many precious memories. The day before Thanksgiving 2014 we got in our jeep & waved goodbye to our precious little storybook town & I don’t think I will ever forget that rainy sad day. Ever. We left behind our military life, all our memories, our favorite places, some of our favorite people. I left a piece of my heart there & even writing this is hard because it hurts to say goodbye to something you love so much. For eight years we called North Carolina Home. It was just the two of us living a long honeymoon & saying goodbye to something so sweet is never easy.
We have officially been Michiganders for 5 months now. It’s been bitter sweet, but mostly sweet. We are creating a beautiful life here & seeing slowly why God placed us back here in this season of our lives. We have LOVED to explore Grand Rapids now that we live here full time. I think we’ve eaten at at least 2 new restaurants a week & just love meeting new people & finding new places to shop, eat, & travel too. We have loved junkin’ here & just taking drives now that it’s spring time. We love being surrounded by our families & loved ones which has also kept us super busy. In North Carolina we had our military family, but for the most part it was always just the two of us which we loved, but transitioning into having family around isn’t as hard as I thought it would be, it’s actually really nice to have them around & to be close with them again after so many years of being away. I work from home, blog, & have my booth at Painted FarmGirl & have also been doing some design jobs as well. I’ve been super busy with lots of amazing opportunities & it’s been awesome to really flex this creative brain of mine in a new place. Since moving to Michigan I have been asked to speak at two conferences, visit some exciting places this summer with companies, featured in some magazines, work with some awesome brands, & much more. I feel like God is showing me why he put us here & it’s amazing to watch it unfold. Mr. LMB was technically in the Marine Corps until February even though we moved home in November & he got a job in January & also started school right away. He is a supervisor & a full time student, but even with that we have tons of time together & spend most everyday together in our free time. Of course Jose is a HUGE part of my blog so we work side by side lots & we have the same hobbies & loves so our free time is together. Another big reason for this is because we understand. We know what we are going through emotionally. The transition has been super smooth & frankly quite easy for us, but it’s still a huge transition & don’t let anyone tell you otherwise if you are doing this as well. We get a lot of outside advice which is really nice, but nobody we know here knows what we are going through. We do not have any friends here who transitioned out of the military while married after all of that time in & it can be rough. Mr. LMB is doing quite well emotionally, but again it’s a change. We are always sure to chat about our feelings & ask each other along the way how it feels. I think being super open about your feels & what you are thinking about the big changes you are going through is vital to surviving these life altering moments. We also google earth our old homes & cry together too. It’s a weird thing transitioning & some weird emotions come with it. He said a quote recently that really put it into perspective about getting out of the military for him. It went something like this “When you go from saving lives & fighting from your country to making sure someone gets their mail in time, it really makes getting out of the military feel real” It’s true. It made me really realize the changes that he was enduring. While he’s probably not in his “forever job” right now & he has a year left in school, it’s still the moment we are living in now & these changes are real. Getting out of the military is full of emotions good & bad & his pros and cons list is pretty uneven [more pros than cons] but there are still those cons that can creep in & make you question what you are doing. This rarely seems to happen for him & I, but we do have those days that we miss our little simple life in NewBern & it makes us wonder what it would be like to go back.
The first couple of months after leaving NC & our military life behind sort of felt like we were here in Michigan on vacation like we had done so many times before, but now that we are in a routine it all feels more real & that’s been an odd sensation. We are not going to get back in our jeep & drive to NC to our home. Because our home there is now someone else’s home. & our home now is here in Michigan. That feels real & that feels raw. It feels final. It kind of tugs at my heartstrings a little, BUT we are so thankful we have a wonderful cozy home to call ours here in Michigan as well. That is one thing that has helped us with the big transition. To move home to a house that is ours has been so wonderful. It’s our “fixer upper” & along with enjoying our cozy home we have also enjoyed working on it and making it ours. I thank God everyday for providing for us along the way in this transition & this is just one of those things along with amazing jobs & countless amazing opportunities. I also think of it this way, if we had to move back to NC & leave this lovely little life we have here behind, we would most likely be sad because this life we have here is awesome & it’s been a beautiful, although at times hard, transition that we are going through right now of saying goodbye to that “other life” we have & this becoming our “new life” here in the mitten. One thing that felt super real all of the sudden after being here for a few months was the “loss” of our military family that we made while in NC. We truly gained another family. Friends that were there with us through deployments, hard times, good times, it was a bond like none other. I know eventually if we had all stayed in the military life we would have been separated, but just not having them around the corner anymore is rough. Thankfully there is texting, phone calls, Skype, & other forms of communication along with planes & cars to travel to each other. & the friendships are so strong that I know we will be in each others lives forever. Just another part of leaving the military life.
For years we dreamed of moving home to Michigan. We loved our life in NC, but we truly knew Michigan was home. Now that it’s finally here although we miss NC, it does feel like home & self discovery has been a huge part of it all. Things that have been helping us transition & making us happy here in Michigan are lots of family time, enjoying our hobbies like junking & DIY, exploring, meeting new people, making new friends, dreaming of growth & expansion in our business, setting goals, going to the gym, being here for big milestones [birthdays, graduations, births, exd], going on lots of dates [we really treat everyday like it’s a date & that’s always fun], making our house our home, & other things here in the blog post I mentioned. We are finding ourselves here & what we want to do & I’m thankful that our time in the military life & our time away taught us that there is no limits. We can set goals & reach them, & now it’s just in a different way. I feel like we will soon see what God is teaching us in this transition period & we will be so thankful for everything it taught us. You know that term, bloom where you are planted? I feel like that’s a big part of our transition & my whole life. No matter where we are I want to bloom, I want to grow, & I want to keep living our dream no matter where we are or what titles are put on us in that moment.
I know I was everywhere in this blog post & maybe that should just sum up the feelings of leaving the military life after so long & transitioning into civilian life as a military wife. I am happy to be home, happy to feel permanent some place, excited for new opportunities, excited for growth, ecstatic to be by family, pumped to make new friends, elated to spend time with my “old” & dear friends, we love living in a bigger city & near lots of fun things, living in this beautiful state, staycations, & much more. I miss my military wife friends, our simple little life in NewBern, the south [at times. not the heat & humidity], our church in NC, our good friends, marine corps balls, living by the ocean, & much more, but in conclusion I think we only remember the good times & that we might actually miss Michigan & our life here a little more if we left it. All in all it’s a transition that I can only try to explain, but I don’t think I could ever completely explain because it’s a feeling I can’t even grasp. To sum it all up, we love it here in the mitten & we are so thankful God brought us here to where we are now. We have come so far since that beautiful September day in 2007 & I am so proud of that handsome veteran of mine & all he has accomplished in his time in the military & now as a hardworking [& super handsome] veteran. He truly inspires me to be a better person & watching him gracefully transition from being an active duty Marine to a veteran is truly inspiring & makes me fall in love with him all over again. So there is 3,000 jumbled words of a little of what we have been up to since leaving NC, how we feel, & how we are doing. Of course you can follow me on Instagram & here on the blog to keep up with us & be sure to show Mr. LMB some love [here] as well. Love you guys & thanks for supporting us always. We have mad love for you all! xx