Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I Want To Be An EFM When I Grow Up

 I knew the first or second time that I was referred to as an E.F.M. (Eligible Family Member) that I would end up wrestling feelings of resentment and that I would have to contend with my own desire to make a contribution while living here or abroad.  Please don't picture me as an executive or even a full-time employee prior to this move. I was not. I home schooled my youngest child (in order to teach him English) and taught art to kids and did a lot of volunteer work. But I have learned that no matter where I am or why I'm there I must find my own stride, or it can find me, either way works as long as I'm doing something I love to do that lines up with my skill set or calling in life. I care about people and love being at the right place/right time to make a difference in someone's life. I've found my calling is usually centered around advocating for people or by giving someone an opportunity to express themselves through art.

Kitties in an Old Town gift shop window- I couldn't resist taking this picture! 

I'm not a domestic goddess by any stretch, I'm not a seaweed spa kind of lady- but I'm open to giving it a try- oh, yeah!  I am a creative, artsy sort of person. I could learn all day, listen all day and/or engage in a cause that I feel compelled to be a part of until I'm so tired I can barely function. That's why I simply can't imagine living the next 20 years in Sean's shadow or waiting for him to get home before my day really starts. Thankfully, he would never want or expect that of me either. Hopefully these descriptions help explain why the last few months have been oh so dreary and dull for me. I AM SO BORED AND SO OVER THIS PART OF THE F.S. EXPERIENCE THAT I COULD JUST PUKE!

So, instead of going mad or shopping all day (just to get myself out of the apartment) I had to come up with a plan for my sanity. Sadly, I've not found my social outlet to be heavily centered around relationships made here at the apartments where we live. I've met a lot really amazing, interesting people that I truly enjoy talking to but it's rare to get together- fun when it happens but really rare.

Here's my personal recipe for not having a nervous breakdown at this point in our FSI training/waiting phase here:

Totally by accident that this photo ended up under that last sentence! Ha!
This is the cemetery behind Oakwood, Falls Church, VA.

1. Taking an art class! I signed up for an awesome photography class through the Art League/Torpedo Factory. It's been great and has forced me to get outside more than I really wanted this winter. I've been COLD but I've gotten out and am quite glad for it.

This picture was taken for an assignment based on manual white balance settings. 

2. Language classes! A few other Indonesia bound FS spouses and I have joined up and hired a man to teach us Bahasa Indonesia. Pak Alex has been a great teacher and has been a kind encouraging "guru" (Indonesian word for teacher).

Also- This coming Monday I start the B.I. fast course at FSI. I'm excited and can't wait to see what this new adventure holds. Learning Bahasa Indonesia is important for me because I plan on having lots of Indonesian friends one day soon.

Pachamama dancer in the President's Day Parade, Feb. 2013

3. Visit the doctor: Here's something people just coming into the FS will hear over and over by their Northern Virginia or DC area medical professionals- "Let's make sure we take care of that before you go overseas." 

Oh yes... if you bring up even the slightest health concern the doctors here will order a number of tests and if you want you can be running to the doctor for this or that several times a week for your entire nine months, or whatever, length of time that you are here:

Patient: Hey, doc- I think I have a wart on my ring finger. Can you take a look at this for me?

Dr: Yes. Hmmm. Well, by golly... that looks like a wart but actually it could just be the tip of an iceberg. We better remove that before you go overseas. Let's order an MRI just to rule out a tumor. And, let's do a stress test. And an ultrasound. I know a guy with a great clinic for warts, I'm happy to write a referral for you.

Plus, the obligatory follow-up visit one month later.

And there you go- one wart = five days of not being bored or in the house all day. It's amazing what your life can become if you let it.  Now, if I can just make these doctors' visits stop while I'm in language training.

 President's Day Parade, Old Town, Alexandria, VA- February 18, 2013

4. Volunteer. I have also discovered it can hard to find places to volunteer here in the NOVA area. You won't be alone if you hear "but you'll be moving in nine months, right?" at some point during your stay in this area of Virginia. Do not give up, keep looking! People do need volunteers around here but YOU have to look for them. I also recommend being a hearty participant in the school's PTA if you have kids in the schools here. Please, comment below if you know of anyplace that needs local volunteers, or if you want to learn about some of the volunteer opportunities that I've found here. 

E.F.M. questions I'm dying to know the answers to:

Will it be this boring once I get to post?

How do other EFM's manage to do what they love doing?

If you're out there, please leave me some sort of idea of what daily life is like at post... or how others have kept busy, contributing and growing personally?