Wednesday, November 7, 2012

For working less than full-time, my days are filled most of the time

I don't work 40 hours per week with my editing gig.  I've tried, but truthfully it doesn't stimulate me enough to keep my focus for eight hours a day.  I've supplemented my paid employment with volunteering both in Hawaii and now here in San Diego.  My main two volunteering outlets are as a command ombudsman and with the Compass program for Navy spouses.  One of the challenging things about those volunteering opportunities is that they don't consistently require a dedicated amount of time week-to-week or month-to-month. (This is especially true of the ombudsman role.)  I try to keep my evenings free of work, paid or volunteer, because that's my family time, but there have been a fair number of occasions that my volunteering eats up my daytime hours and I find myself editing documents after supper in order to get some hours in.  

On top of the paid work and volunteering, I have hobbies that I enjoy.  I never seem to have enough time for those.  I love to read, but sadly I'm only reading approximately one book every three to four months.  Inexcusable.  I try to take 20-30 minutes to do the daily crossword puzzle.  (Gotta exercise that brain.  Another name for a small sewing kit?  An etui!)  I also craft.  I do cross-stitch, crochet, and, lately, I've been sewing.  One of the reasons I love football season is the excuse to sit around for six hours on a weekend and craft.  This week I've been crafting like mad because I'm trying to get a couple more items done for the church's Holiday Boutique coming up soon, and I've also been commissioned to sew a couple of baby blankets for someone's daughter.  

Sewing is not my strongest area, truthfully.  I know basic fabrics, how to read a pattern and how to use the basic operations of my Singer.  Luckily these baby blankets that were requested didn't require anything too fancy.  I did have to borrow a walking foot from a friend to assist with the sewing, and I was smart enough to buy some identical fabric to the kind I was supplied and practiced making a blanket before I started working with the assigned material.  I was happy to find that I learned from the errors on my trial blanket and the two that I've made for her look pretty sharp.  I've got a little finishing to do on both of them, but I should have them done by the end of the weekend.  But between the trial blanket and the two real blankets, they have eaten up at least 10 hours of life.  (One of the fabrics I'm working with is a knit that is a pain in the butt to work with.  But I have triumphed.  Happy dance!)

Completely unrelated to crafting, and in case you have been in a coma, there was a presidential election yesterday.  The candidate I support won.  I was relieved and happy and felt like I could exhale for the first time in weeks, when the results were announced.  I happily exchanged messages with like-minded friends and family back home, knowing that in the morning I would have to go back in to the world and interact with people who voted for the losing candidate.  I thought about how I would have felt if my candidate had lost.  I knew that I'd be saying the same things that many of them would say, "I wonder what the housing market is like in Vancouver," (oh wait, they wouldn't move to Canada - socialized medicine and all), "We're screwed," "That guy is going to destroy everything that I hold dear about this country," etc.  I tried to tell myself to have a little grace when I was faced with people who had these feelings directed at the president in the coming weeks.

I was going to face these attitudes at some point because, well, I'm a military spouse.  Newsflash: Most service members, and their spouses, voted for the other guy.  I am distinctly a minority in terms of my political affiliation as a military spouse.  I have a number of military spouse (and service member) friends with whom I totally and utterly disagree with when it comes to politics.  Some of them I can debate with constructively and rationally.  And the others?  Sometimes there are just topics you have to let alone.  I admit that I often feel lonely for my politically aligned friends back in Minnesota.  I wish I could be back home in the next weeks to meet with my friends for coffee to talk about the election results, both at the state and federal level, and debate what it all means.  But instead, I will probably be stuck exchanging occasional Facebook messages instead.

It didn't take long for my grace to be tested.  I had a volunteer meeting this morning.  When I arrived there were already a half dozen military spouses present.  As I walked up to the table I could hear the venom that was being hurled about the president.  I use venom purposefully.  This was anger, raw and pure and being spit out in bursts.  Each spouse took their turn, hurling insults at the president and his family.    As I took my seat, I debated if I wanted to call everyone out right then and there, letting them know that their views weren't universally shared and that for an organization that prides itself on accepting all spouses, enlisted and officer, junior and senior sailors, that this kind of talk did exactly the opposite.  I sat quietly for a moment before the leader called the meeting to order.  Then the political talk stopped, and we were all back to being volunteers with a common goal.

As I sat there I decided that I'm going to speak with our team leader, privately, about the political conversation before the meeting.  I feel like in some ways I should have handled it in front of the whole group, but I was so defensive, so appalled at their comments, that I don't think I would have handled it with the cool, even demeanor I would have needed.  There are some strong personalities in the group, and I think if I address it with the team leader that she'd be able to bring it to the group in a way that I, as one of the newest members, can't.

This morning was a stark reminder that my political views are the minority in my military social circles, but that won't keep me from volunteering to serve military families.  We all need support when our spouse deploys, whomever we voted for.  We all need information and assistance when it comes to the unique challenges of military life, regardless of our political affiliation.  

Besides, there are plenty of other topics that I can talk about with spouses.  For example, crafting.  I'm all about that.  Let's discuss.