Blogger Biography: Jodi is a proud Navy wife and mom, as well as a coffee addict, a slow runner and a passionate volunteer. Racing between her three kids’ activities and her own family readiness group meetings and COMPASS classes on base makes life interesting, but finding time to give back and quiet moments to write about it all keeps her sane in a world that is really anything but!
My family was stationed in the Pacific Northwest 3 ½ years ago. On day eight of our stay, in the midst of a widespread power outage and moments after our SUV slid through an icy intersection and stopped just inches from a brick wall, I screamed at my husband, “I hate it here! I want to go HOME!”
I’d like to say this was just an emotional response to a scary situation. I wish I could tell you that things got much better after that, but they didn’t. I decided right then and there that Washington was the worst, and I spent the next three years working hard to prove it. It wasn’t until earlier this year when a good friend said, “Oh, Jodi, we ALL know how much YOU hate it here!” that I realized just how much time and energy I’d wasted hating this duty station. In that moment I realized I’d been so focused on the negatives that I’d been missing out on so much that Washington has to offer.
Sadly, it never really had to be that way. There are ways to learn to love the duty station you hate, but it’s up to you to try!
1. Create a home base that you love. In hating everything about Washington, I subconsciously decided that our house was just temporary and never really spent a lot of energy creating a real home. These days, as I hang family photos and dust our favorite bric-a-brac, I realize that creating a home base is the foundation for loving any place because even when everything outside is new and weird and scary, home is like a security blanket of familiarity and good memories.
2. Form a support network. You need people. You need friends and family members that you can go to for support. I found it early on in a playgroup and in our command’s family readiness group, but I also rely heavily on daily conversations with my sister. She lives over a thousand miles away, but through the magic of the Internet, she’s been “with me” the whole time. It could never be said better than that old ditty, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, and the other gold.”
3. Keep up with your favorite hobbies or maybe even try something new! I tried to keep up with dance classes for a while, but even though I found a great studio, it just wasn’t the same as my old clogging group. Instead I took up running. Running is so popular here that there’s always a new themed 5K race to enjoy. Running had never been on my bucket list at any of our other duty stations, so I never might have jogged those first few steps if we hadn’t moved here. Now I can’t imagine not having a race on my calendar to look forward to!
4. It’s hard not to compare, but give your new home a fair shake. I’ve been known to complain, “I’m so surrounded by these stupid mountains I feel claustrophobic! I miss my ocean views!” I do have a special love of the ocean, but those “stupid” mountains just happen to include no less than Mount Rainier, still considered an active volcano and visited by nearly 2 million people every year! When I finally allowed myself to admit it, the mountain views in Washington are spectacular! I still love and miss the ocean, but when I stopped comparing the two, I realized I could be amazed by and love them both!
5. Search for the good stuff. There are hidden gems everywhere! I spent far too much time missing the great pizza and fun activities of New England in my first few years here. Nowadays I’m adventuring my way around the Kitsap Peninsula and finding a treasure trove of mom and pop eateries, beautiful parks and quirky shops that I can’t believe I’ve missed out on for so long!
Believe it or not, in a year when new orders are imminent and the uncertainty of a new duty station is setting in, I am learning to love this crazy, rainy state! No, it still isn’t my favorite duty station, and yes, I still miss my ocean views, but instead of dwelling on homesickness, I am fully focused on experiencing the beauty and quirkiness that defines Washington, this place that, at least temporarily, I now call home.