Six years ago today I sat at my desk in our home in Clarksville, TN. I was up and working away on a tax return when all the calls that turned our lives upside down begin. Six years ago I pushed my dreams way off to the side and committed to helping my family heal.
2016 was a year filled with severe highs and lows. We had our hearts broken a few times, but they are healing. With more time behind us, the heart aches will become just memories.
I left my job with Yellow Ribbon Fund in February 2016. It was a very hard decision to make. Once again, I had to put our family first due to reasons beyond my control. I miss my job and the staff at YRF more than words can say, but it was a decision that had to be made. I will forever be thankful for my years with YRF.
April 2016 Cutie #2 picked up sixteen chickens from 4-H. She has overalls and boots covered in glitter, so she has this farming thing down! We also added two ducks. We had to give three chickens back to 4-H as part of their program, the neighbor's dog ate two, and our Champ "played with one." We currently have ten and we collect eight to ten eggs a day. We love having our feathered ladies here. It was a great addition to our lives.
Summer 2016, I received a call from the Dole Foundation asking if we would fly to California and film some PSAs with Tom Hanks. The hope was this project would help the nation recognize the service and sacrifice of families like ours. Anytime Chaz and I can help military families, we will be there. So off we flew.
Let me go ahead and answer the two questions I always get asked now. Yes, Tom Hanks is amazing. Yes, he is the guy you imagine he would be. We had a blast in California making the PSAs. Here's the link for them.
Cutie #1 and I left CA on that Wednesday and were in NYC that Friday morning for a school sponsored trip. She and I had a blast adding "seeing both coasts in a week" to our life. Cutie #1 also joined the Sister Cities group here in our county. We hosted a student from Japan for a week in our home. It was a great experience for our entire family.
Summer quickly ended and we sent our girls to two different schools for the first time ever. Cutie #1 is in high school (insane to even think about it). She is cheering for her high school and loving it. Cutie #2 is in middle school, but luckily her school is K-8 so she didn't have to switch schools. She is taking dance and is even in pre-pointe. I think we can say we have them officially settled.
Right when we got the girls back into school, I got another call from the Dole Foundation asking me to be on the Today Show with Tom Hanks and then pop down to DC and share our PSAs at the Capitol. Here's the link for that adventure. And here's another link for the Today Show. That day was beyond amazing!
But something pretty great happened in California in Summer 2016. While we were filming the PSAs, Tom Hanks leaned over to me and said something about how I have all this education and knowledge, but because of Chaz's needs I am limited to what I can do. Of course I smiled and said something like yeah pretty much. He asked what can be done about that? I said do the best you can with what you have.
Once we got back home, Chaz and I had a serious conversation. Our original plans were always to let him put in his 20 years, then I would get my turn to develop my career. Well the bomb took care of the 20 years, but deep down I still wanted my dream. My dream (which Chaz always referred to as "The Sugar Momma Plan") was to have an actual brick and mortar building where I can provide financial services (tax prep, financial counseling, all of the things I am licensed to do). Chaz said it was time to get serious about that dream of mine. He and I made lots of plans while the girls were in school and then last week this happened.
This all happened because Tom Hanks and the Dole Foundation. No, no one bought the building or anything like that. Chaz and I did it all with saving and planning. The Dole Foundation simply chose us to represent them in the PSA. That connected us to Tom Hanks. He simply inspired us to get back to the dream we chatted about so many years ago. We are so thankful for the PSA experience, because his words were the kick we needed to get serious.
Now everyone asks all the time, "What is Chaz doing?" Chaz is just enjoying life. As many know, he is very limited on what he can actually do physically. He helps out where and when he can. Most importantly he is focused on being an incredibly kick ass father to our cuties. He is still not (and may never be) in a place where he can get a job. We have always taken one day at a time. In 2017, he will continue doing what he is doing, enjoying a life that could have been cut short. And together we are making some pretty great things happen.
Today it occurred to me that Year 6 looks like it will be the year the new normal is finally just our normal. How awesome is that?!