May 31, 2016

I’ve been linking up with the same group of bloggers for about two years now. Each month, the hosts, EmmaAngie, & Jessi, announce a different theme, and bloggers share their travel stories from all across the world.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the crazy, unexpected situations that Nick and I find ourselves in as we get ready to move back to Hawaii. Over the years, we’ve been through long deployments — we even ended up changing our whole wedding date to accommodate an extra deployment. We spent five years flying across the country to make long distance work, then moved to Hawaii for two years, where we ended up making a huge change to our life plan when Nick decided to stay in the military.

I became curious about the kinds of unexpected experiences my fellow bloggers find themselves in, so I thought that this would make a good linkup topic. The hosts agreed and invited me to co-host this month!

I think that as long as my husband is in the military, I will always be finding myself in unexpected places. But we all will. Whether you are part of a military family or not, life will throw you unexpected twists and turns and force you to reevaluate everything you ever thought you knew. I think that sometimes these unexpected places can turn out to be the very best ones. I think it’s good for us to challenge ourselves and our assumptions and to find ourselves in places that are not in our comfort zone.

This picture was taken the day Nick got home from his first deployment, an experience I never thought I would have:

finding ithaka (2 of 7)

Ever since I met Nick, I’ve  been finding myself in all sorts of unexpected places that I never ever thought I would be. It’s obviously hard at times, to put it mildly, but I love our life and I know that I’m happier for it.

Nick’s military career has made our relationship stronger, it’s made me stronger, and it’s made me appreciate the little things in life so much more than I ever could have otherwise — things like a night hanging out on the couch together or when he makes me coffee on a Saturday morning. When we first met 9 years ago, I never imagined myself dating someone who moved across the country every few years, who would deploy for months at a time without being able to talk to me.

But that’s exactly what I did.

finding ithaka (3 of 7)

I fell head over heels in love and suddenly, I couldn’t imagine my life without Nick, no matter how long he was gone or how far apart we were. Love causes you to do some crazy things. Those deployments were rough and I used every ounce of strength I had to get through them. I even found strength when I thought I had none left. That gave me an independence and a confidence I never knew I had.

And I saw that there’s nothing like welcoming home your loved one after months apart, no feeling in the world like it. It was always worth it.

Even as I missed Nick like crazy when he was deployed, even as I wrote him emails that I knew he may never read on the submarine (the email system is unreliable at best), even as I craved the day we would finally live together, I never could have imagined packing up my entire life and moving to Hawaii.

But that’s exactly what I did.

oahu-13

During those two years that we lived in Hawaii, Nick and I vowed that we were done with military life. Deployments were too hard, this life was too hard. I never could have imagined singing up to do this all over again.

But that’s exactly what we did (more about that decision in this post!).

finding ithaka (6 of 7)

After Nick signed his contract, the Navy sent us to Connecticut, a place that I never had any intention of living. The base has a crappy reputation — it’s known as the place that people least want to go. I never imagined I would end up loving it.

But that’s exactly what I did.

finding ithaka (1 of 1)-2

I learned not to listen to other people’s thoughts on things like this, because life is really what you make it. I’ve had a blast living here in the New England and I am not ready to leave. Just last  weekend, we found ourselves hiking in Vermont and drinking maple lattes.

And while there was a part of me that hoped to go back to Hawaii one day, I never could have imagined that the Navy would be sending us back so soon.

But that’s exactly what they did.

hawaii here we come (1 of 1)

We’re already starting to pack up, because we’re moving back in July.

The next chapter in Nick’s career will be hard for both of us, harder than anything we’ve known before, but I’m ready for it. Because no matter what unexpected places the military throws at me, I know I got this. The more unexpected places I find myself in, the more I learn and grow.

the two year honeymoon - wedding pictures (7 of 12)

I couldn’t pick just one unexpected place that I’ve found myself in, because there have been so many. Each one has taught me how to be braver, stronger, and happier than I ever knew was possible. Each unexpected turn has taught me that being open to new ideas, embracing change, and trying new things are some of the most important qualities a person can have.

What I’ve learned from all of this, and the point of my long, convoluted, 9-year-long story, is that life is full of unexpected places. Embrace them. Learn from them. Love them. Because you may never get the chance again to do the previously unthinkable.

Just because you’ve never been somewhere before or you never tried something new doesn’t mean you should shy away from those things. You will become more open minded, more sure of yourself, and braver than you ever thought possible when you immerse yourself in these unexpected places.

More about the linkup…

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38 responses to “Finding myself in unexpected places.”

  1. This is such a beautiful post, Carolann. You’ve written so well about the importance of embracing the difficult and the unexpected and not only making the best of it but making it wonderful. Thank you.

    • Carolann says:

      Thanks so much, Clare. That was such a sweet comment. If there’s one thing being a military spouse has made me learn, it’s how to embrace the unexpected/hard things in life and make them great. I think that I’m a lot happier when I try to get into this mindset. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  2. I still can’t imagine what it’s like to go through deployments and to not be able to talk to your husband! You all have so much respect from me! We have friends in the military and life has definitely taken unexpected turns for them as well, but while some of them are bad, others have been great experiences for them. I know that y’all are going to love being back in Hawaii!

    • Carolann says:

      I know that I am very lucky because Nick is in a relatively very safe job. The whole point of a submarine is that no one knows where you are! It does mean that I can’t talk to him since there’s no internet or phone calls on the submarine, but I’ll take it knowing that he’s doing that kind of job as opposed to something riskier. It’s hard and it sucks sometimes but it really does become worth it. I can’t say that I ever get used to it, but I’ve learned to embrace it and make it work in my own way. Luckily I have a great family and some supportive friends who help me along the way. Thanks Ashley:)

  3. Rachel says:

    You guys are so awesome! And what a bunch of unexpectedness your life together has been. Worth it all, though, right? I love that wedding picture. When Angel and I got married, I think we pictured for ourselves a pretty typical suburban life–little house, couple kids, homeschool mom and nurse practitioner dad. We had no plans to move overseas–until suddenly we did. Moving to China was the best thing ever, and moving to Malaysia was harder, but has also been a very good thing for us, a great time of learning. At this point…I just plan on expecting life to be pretty ‘unexpected’…

    • What a beautiful post Carolann! As a military wife myself, I can totally resonate with your words on so many levels. Our life is a bit of a whirlwind and filled with unexpected circumstances, but it helps us grow and makes us stronger. In fact I love this lifestyle, moving from country to country, life never gets mundane and boring, don’t you think? 🙂 Also, absolutely love your wedding photo, you two look so in love. Good luck with the move and share more aloha vibes with us! xoxo, nano

    • Carolann says:

      Thanks so much, Rachel. I think one of the reasons that I started following your blog, aside from your awesome writing style, is that you also seem to embrace the unexpected in life, the quirks. I love that attitude and I think that life is so much more interesting when we do that. I am so glad that I was able to open up myself to things that I never thought I could possibly do. I used to be the kind of person who would never, ever consider something as crazy as moving 5,000 miles away from home, but that experience has made me so much happier and stronger. Our life is constantly changing, and I really do love it all. I also love reading about your life in Malaysia!

  4. […] So what are your unexpected places? Join the travel link up by Emma , Angie , Jessie and Carolann […]

  5. great post! gorgeous wedding dress! I just joined the linkup too:)

    • Carolann says:

      Hey Tanja! Thank you! I am still kinda obsessed with my wedding dress, haha! I am so glad you joined the linkup — I can’t wait to get over to your blog and read your post!

  6. Dannielle says:

    This was such a lovely post to read. I never thought I’d fall in love and move to a different country but that’s what I did and I think you’re right, all the unexpected things that get thrown at you make you stronger and learn to appreciate smaller things a lot more. Best of luck for your hawaii move!

    • Carolann says:

      Honestly, I never thought I had it in me! But love does make you do some crazy things, right?! Thanks — I will need all the luck I can get!! 🙂

  7. Ahila says:

    What a poignant post, Carolann. Embracing and learning from the unexpected places in life is a meaningful lesson in life. Best wishes for your move back to Hawai’i. I miss the place.

    • Carolann says:

      Thanks so much, Ahila. I loved reading your comment. I count myself lucky to be a military spouse, to have learned this lesson early in life. I think it’s going to help me be flexible throughout my whole life, in all areas of life. Hawaii really is a special place, isn’t it? I’m so happy we are going back. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. What a beautiful post Carolann! As a military wife myself, I can totally resonate with your words on so many levels. Our life is a bit of a whirlwind and filled with unexpected circumstances, but it helps us grow and makes us stronger. In fact I love this lifestyle, moving from country to country, life never gets mundane and boring, don’t you think? 🙂 Also, absolutely love your wedding photo, you two look so in love. Good luck with the move and share more aloha vibes with us! xoxo, nano

    • Carolann says:

      Hi Nano! I always love meeting other military spouses so I will definitely be checking out your blog! Thanks so much for your kind words — our wedding was just a few days after Nick had gotten home from a deployment, and a few days before we were moving to Hawaii, and we were just so so happy. Military life is certainly never mundane and boring which honestly is one of the things I love most about it. I don’t think Nick was meant for a regular 9-5 job so I think he is overall happier in the military even though he has to go away sometimes. Sure, there are really hard times, but there are the most amazing, awesome times as well. I can’t wait to share more about Hawaii when we get back!

  9. Polly says:

    Awww, what a perfect love story! The best ones do have a few twists and turns along the way 🙂

    Polly xx

    • Carolann says:

      Thanks, Polly! I think you’re right — and I know that you have a similar experience of falling in love and packing up and moving far from home! I think that’s one of the reasons why I started reading your blog way back when! 🙂

  10. Beautiful! Love really does take you on the most crazy adventures, doesn’t it? I loved reading about yours?
    I never in a million years imagined that I would be living in Chile, until I met my Chilean husband that is 😉

    • Carolann says:

      Isn’t love crazy that way?! I’m so grateful for my always-moving-around husband and for the adventures he’s taken me on!

  11. Mandy says:

    What a beautiful post. I’m so glad that life has been full of unexpected surprises for the both of you. I am so glad we met up on the Blogosphere and am looking forward to your next adventures.

    • Carolann says:

      Thanks, Mandy! I’m so glad we found each other’s blogs too! I’m excited to read more about your adventures and to get more book recommendations from you! Blogging is awesome.

  12. I LOVE this post Carolann and your whole approach and positivity. I know from reading your blog for quite a while now that there have been ups and downs but your really enthusiastic outlook and the way you always genuinely find ways to grow and look towards all the perks and benefits of these life changes always impresses me! PS, you look beautiful in your wedding dress!!

    • Carolann says:

      Thank you so so much, Shikha. I never realized, when I started blogging, how much other bloggers’ supportive comments and encouragement would help me to learn to always look on the bright side. It truly is a wonderful unexpected benefit of blogging. Thanks for your support.

  13. Anna Parker says:

    What a beautiful post – I can’t imagine the turmoil that no knowing where next, or indeed where he is must throw you in too! Strong relationship for sure!

    • Carolann says:

      Thanks, Anna. Not knowing where Nick is has always been the hardest part. Sometimes it can be exciting to think about where we will end up next, but then once it gets closer I just want to know!! It’s a roller coaster, all of the time!

  14. Sophie says:

    Oh my God, that’s such a beautiful post, Carolann – I felt tears threatening! Yours and Nick’s story is so inspirational, and your wedding photo is just stunning! I wish you all the luck in the world on your lifetime of unexpected places

    Sophie X

  15. Angie Silver says:

    I love that each new place gave you something new and strengthened your relationship

    • Carolann says:

      Thank you Angie! And thank you so much for inviting me to co-host this month’s linkup. It’s been so much fun and I’ve gotten to “meet” so many awesome bloggers!

  16. Emma says:

    Firstly, how can it have been two years already?
    Secondly, Nick sounds like an incredibly special man, worth every second of the day!

    • Carolann says:

      It’s gone by so fast! I remember my very first linkup and how much fun it’s been to get to know all of you awesome bloggers. And yes I do think Nick is pretty special and worth all the craziness, moving, and waiting!! :)))

  17. What an amazing adventure you’ve been on together! Long may it continue 🙂

    Your wedding photo is beautiful, by the way. And I’m glad you get to return to somewhere you feel happy.

    • Carolann says:

      Thank you so much, Rachel. As much as I enjoy moving round and seeing different places, I’m so glad to be going to a place that I already know I love. It helps a lot to already know where the good coffee shops are too :))

  18. Carolann I love this post! Such a beautiful story. I love that you keep embracing the movements and fun times. Long may they continue!

    • Carolann says:

      Thank you so much Jessi!! It’s been an awesome adventure so far — I kind of love the uncertainty sometimes.

  19. Sarah Bence says:

    Beautiful wedding photos and beautiful love story 🙂 in my experience, long distance is difficult, but it does put you in some (amazing) unexpected places! Thanks for thinking of this topic, I’ve really enjoyed reading the posts this month in particular 🙂

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