Few professional communities experience the un- and underemployment rates of today’s military spouses and caregivers.
At present, over 90 percent of military spouses are un-/underemployed, earning a mere fraction of what their civilian counterparts are able to bring in.
As a recently transitioned military spouse, I can attest that the job outlook doesn’t exactly improve when your family moves into the veteran community, especially if you’re tasked with post-war caregiving.
Such realities are the unfortunate plight of many members of the current military community. Some studies cite the ever-growing civilian-military divide, others blame poorly constructed workplace policies as the source of such widespread discrimination.
While I hope the employment struggles of today’s military and veteran families will resolve through effective community and government initiatives, the reality for many military spouses is that they need a job, like, yesterday.
You’re a family caregiver, providing must-have supportive care for an aged, chronically-ill, and/or disabled loved one.
You’re lonely, stressed, and tired.
The long-term nature of caregiving that so often accompanies today’s current healthcare system leaves you wondering if you have what it takes to keep all the plates spinning.
It wouldn’t take much – one more unexpected hospitalization, one more secondary infection, one more medical procedure denied by insurance – for all the plates to come crashing down on the floor.
If you’re like millions of other family caregivers, you worry about your loved one, you feel ill-equipped to provide 24/7 caregiving services, and you feel really, really alone. Continue Reading…
I’ve been meaning to get strategic about my money management since graduating, buying a house, getting married, starting a business, moving, moving again, moving again…and the list goes on and on.
Do you feel me?
While do-it-yourself money management has been a long-term intent of mine, it’s emerged as the ultimate back-burner project. “It’ll take too much time,” I’d convince myself. “I’ve already put it off this long – what’s another year?”
This year, I (finally) called my procrastinator self’s bluff – it’s time to get serious about some serious investments. Dancing the prelude to my Dirty Thirty, I’ve decided to put some action behind my financial well-meaning, yet previously ineffective intent, and manage my own money. Like many other millennials, I’ve got asset goals, student debt, and healthcare costs that routinely meet the catastrophic cap and have concluded there’s no time like the present to execute financial savviness.
You may recall from a previous blog post, my husband and I built a tiny house.
Just the two of us, with a budget of $1,000. Yes, I know that sounds crazy, but it turned out to actually be doable.
And now it’s almost done – done enough for a blog tour! Everything has been installed with the exception of a modern bathroom (we do have an outdoor shower with running water), a functional kitchen (good thing I married a grill master), and AC/heat source (currently going old school on this).
While our tiny house isn’t currently HGTV standards, it’s been a really educational experience (never thought I could actually build a house), along with providing a super low cost project with awesome return (thanks to my squirrel-like salvaging skills, we currently have less than $800 in the entire tiny house build).
The house provides us both a place to “go chill” and allows us a place to catch up on some uninterrupted R&R without breaking the bank or disrupting our penny-pinching savings plan.
Oh, how I love the Kansas State Fair.
For ten days in September, the little town of Hutchison welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors from all around the Sunflower State. The roadways become packed, restaurants overflow, and “No Fair Parking” signs crop up in hastily manicured terraces. A city best known for its Cosmosphere and salt mine evolves into the state hub for pretty much everything for ten epic days of all-things-Kansan.
The Kansas State Fair is an annual festival that’s been going on for over 100 years. Thanks to a multitude of helpful volunteers and supporting organizations, the state fair provides both educational and entertainment opportunities for all ages. Some of the exhibits are predictable, like the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Fisheries mobile aquarium (super cool), while others breathe new life into the annual event, like a surprise visit from the Budweiser Clydesdales (the 2015 fair rocked).
During a workplace seminar I recently attended, a member of the audience asked the speaker, “Why do millennials want the flexible work environments?”
The speaker replied, “Because they don’t want to work! Millennials don’t want to work.”
As one of the only millennials in the crowded event space, my interest was piqued by the speaker’s response and the subsequent non-millennial audience reception. The speaker and audience conversation continued dogging millennial employees, citing Generation Y’s preference for remote working opportunities and their engagement in the gig economy as sufficient evidence for the unfounded argument that millennials are inherently “lazy”, “have immature values”, and “lack sufficient work ethic”.
As a career-minded millennial that’s built her entire career through virtual work out of necessity (I am also a full-time caregiver to my spouse who was injured serving our country in Afghanistan), I was quite troubled to hear this discourse among industry leaders regarding generational misconceptions and ill-informed consensus regarding flexible work opportunities that can lead to mass discrimination within our caregiving community.
Sixteen years. That’s how long it’s been since the terrorist attacks of September 11th that set into motion the cascade of events now known as the Great Recession and Global War on Terror.
Both my husband and I woke up early. While the morning looks like just like the start of any other brilliant day, it’s far from it. We talked about how things would have been different if 9-11 hadn’t happened – our friends that would still be alive, the careers that would have manifested, the wounds of war that we wouldn’t have to live with day in and day out.
I go for a run. I run whenever the realities of life after war cloud my mind. Closed casket military funerals. Jam packed VA Hospital waiting rooms. 87 percent divorce rates for OEF/OIF combat officers. Suicide after suicide after suicide. Veteran caregiver groups filled with sobbing spouses who are literally at their wit’s end.
I run another mile. We’d have a house full of kids by now if it wasn’t for the war. He’d be coming up on a promotion if it hadn’t been for those damn IEDs. I’d never have to sit through another VA suicide prevention class. Our lives as a peacetime military family would have been almost-normal by civilian standards.
Can you believe that summer is almost over?
Technically, my summer came to an end with the first day of fall semester classes. I went from riding horses every day to lecturing college students on business and technology. The annual change from a life in cowboy boots to sensible pumps is always a little drastic. I’m still getting saddle time in the afternoons and evenings, just spending most of my mornings discussing economic trends and marketing strategies.
Summer 2017 wasn’t exactly an awesome season for me thanks to unexpected surgeries, moving, and other not-so-glam events. I initially didn’t think the season warranted its very own blog post; however, jotting down a few of the highlights has reminded me that headlining summers don’t have to include Caribbean cruises and blowout weddings. Some – like this past summer – involve some pretty cool, albeit not-so-Instagram-worthy events that shape the year that follows.
So, as we usher in the autumn breath of color changes, football games, and harvest season, here’s five highlights from the Summer of 2017:
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Immediately following my high school graduation, I bought a one-way ticket to Beijing, China.
I’d only been on an airplane once and had never traveled internationally before, so this travel excursion was quite the adventure. I learned enough Mandarin to greet others, say “Yes” and “No”, and communicate about basic navigation. I’d received a slew-full of additional vaccines from my county health department, and leafed through a few travel books on China’s capital province. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I knew it was going to be exciting.
Seeking a more meaningful experience than my peer’s Greek rush weeks, I decided to spend the summer volunteering at two poorly-funded orphanages located a few hours outside of the capital city. I was still pretty clueless at this time about what I wanted to do with my life and whether or not I wanted to go to college. I hoped this summer of philanthropy would provide me some direction. Maybe I’d realize the nonprofit sector would be a good fit for me, or I’d make some international relief work contacts; either way, I wanted to help others and understaffed orphanages on the other side of the world seemed like a good place to start.
I’m an HGTV addict.
Cold wintry western days, you can find me (and my three 90+lb dogs) snuggled up with a cup of warm tea, binging on the latest International House Hunters, Flip or Flop, and Tiny House, Big Living.
I love learning DIY tips, watching real estate transformation, and getting to know the families behind the buys (and sells) that take place on the station.
Over the past few months, I’ve become quite partial to the tiny house shows – Tiny House, Big Living, Tiny House Hunters, and Tiny House Nation. I’ve watched in awe as families forgo over 2000 sq feet of living space in favor of less than 200, simplified their lives, and realized their dreams of travel, hobbies, and other lifestyle options many of us wish for but put off in lieu of a “normal” rent or mortgage payment + upkeep.