30 January 2018

Dear Kid in the Marines Sweatshirt, Victor Quinonez

Everyone is talking about that video you shot, actually videos. I'm sure you know which ones I'm referring to, but in-case someone in the general public skipped the "trending now" here's the short version...

This kid shows up to class wearing a shirt the teacher doesn't like (it says, Marines). The teacher then chooses to jump up on a soap box about how horrible the military is, how service members lack general intelligence - or are the product of bad parenting. How they lack discipline or ability to complete their mission. The videos, shot in a classroom - are dripping with profanity and general disdain for those who protect and serve - as well as anyone who would support them. Here's a link CLICK HERE

Ok so here is where I can go into a rant about how awesome the military is, and what a belligerent jerk the individual speaking on the video is; I could explain that MOST TEACHERS ARE AMAZING - but I'm not this guy...

Dear Victor

I'm sorry you are so uncomfortable in your SCHOOL that you feel you have to make a secret video in order to bring to light abuse in the classroom... but when a teacher who has been suspended before  just keeps coming back, I can understand why you did.

I'm angry and disappointed that so many of us who stand in the way of tyranny, have spent the better part of two decades fighting oppression in other hemispheres only to have it take root like a malignant tumor to the point students in our high schools are bullied by those who should be encouraging you to follow YOUR dreams - whatever those might be.

I'm sorry I knew this guy's name before yours. You are walking the hard road and are appreciated by countless Veterans and Service Members who BY THIS ACTION ON YOUR PART - have been defended against this individual's slander and lies.

I'm sorry no other adult in that building stood in the way. I'm sure this isn't his first tirade - and I'm sure it isn't a secret. You're a kid. The biggest thing you should have to worry about is getting your homework done, and a prom date, and annoying siblings.

I'm livid, disgusted, and heartbroken that your family's sacrifice and father's service have been disrespected in such a brutal way. The bearing you displayed - to receive that abuse - and NOT take the bait? You're stronger than I am.

I'm encouraged by your actions.  You stepped up. You sought help. You didn't keep silent. I'm going to tell my kids about you. You're a role model.

I'm hopeful there are more kids like you.

To the kid in the Marines Sweatshirt, 

Thank You. 

Jinger A. Brinkley
US Army Veteran

26 January 2018

Won't You Be My Neighbor - Uhhhh No.

So... just about 9 months ago we moved into a beautiful neighborhood. I would describe it to you, but going into a dissertation of suburbia is about as exciting as a root canal/pap smear combo and I really don't see why anyone would want to experience that  so we'll skip it. I trust you can imagine a bunch of pretty houses all lined up on a curvy street? Slap in some doggone palm trees because... Florida... and.... you got it. Good Moving on.

Well, somewhere along the last 12 years of military spouse marriage I forgot that I am an adult and under NO obligation to be friends with EVERYONE I meet. I mean... let me clarify as a military spouse there can be this weird thing when your husband is running around in foreign lands with their husband, you kind of feel this strange sense of loyalty even if you can't STAND the person - but here in this NEW world of civilian suburbia... those uhhhh "rules" didn't apply - BUT THAT NEVER OCCURRED TO ME. I made my merry way through the neighborhood attempting to foster relationships at every turn.

Let me tell you what I learned from that little escapade.

Never - ever - ever - compromise who you are. You WILL find your tribe, but if you manipulate your persona to try to fit in, than you will never really find the people you belong with. Why? Because people won't get to see/know the real you. Having the integrity to show your true colors can be painful and it can be lonely, but please know that the relationships you will eventually foster will be so much more fruitful than the shallow acquaintances you will brush upon if you never let people get to know the real you.

photo credit: pbs.org

Here's the flip side if you show people the REAL you and they "don't like you" then you save yourself the time and energy of investing in someone who DOES NOT WANT a relationship with you. We are grown y'all! If they don't think you are fun to hang out with - don't waste your time. There are way too many awesome people in this world who WILL want to be weird with you.. or laugh loud with you... or watch football with you... or sing in the car with you... or read nerd stuff with you... do NOT try to fit some snot rockets mold - let them find some other snot rocket to hang out with.

In the past few months I've found football friends, antiquing friends, wine a little/ laugh a lot friends, and I've figured out that there are some people in this neighborhood that I don't care if I NEVER speak to EVER in my life. I don't wish them harm or ill will ---- we just do not mix --- and that is OK. I don't have to hang out with them and they don't have to hang out with me. This isn't kindergarten, and I'm not Mr. Rogers.

23 August 2016

I am Extraordinary

Yes... you read the title correctly. I am extraordinary; however before you chalk this up to another egotistical keyboard warrior blogger gone mad - give me a few minutes of your time, please.

I love the word extraordinary. I find it funny actually, because (as those of you who read my babbling already know) I love to dig into words.

I am not a special snowflake with super powers. I am no stronger than any other person walking this earth. I am no different than you. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all have gifts - talents - passions - skills. We are uniquely made and yet remarkably similar.

Let me give you one simple example. I work out. Most of you know this. What you may not realize is that over the last two years I've lost over 60 lbs. I can't tell you an exact number because once the scale crept over 220 lbs - I stopped weighing myself. I was ready to give up. I'd destroyed my ankle, had reconstructive surgery and lost mobility in my right foot/ankle. I wasn't sure where to go from there.

So. I tapped back into those good ole Army resilience skills and sat down to do some goal setting. I knew I wanted to ruck march with Ruck to Remember the following year. So I started with something simple. I walked. I kept walking until I was back into a routine. Then I headed back to the gym. Once I wasn't so ashamed of my body. I kept walking. The weather had changed and the Y had an indoor track. Until I was cleared to do more - I would keep walking.

Slowly my ankle regained strength. I was able to add some different mobility exercises into my routine, and eventually got back under weights. I love being under the bar. There is no hiding from gravity and iron. Either you can pick it up or you can't. If you can't you just keep working until you can. Yes. It is really that simple.

After months and months in the gym I was still frustrated with my progress. I couldn't seem to find a balance between maintaining strength and fighting the body fat I'd collected over a year of injury/recover. So what did I do? I waived a magic wand and BOOM my ass was perfect. No. I asked for HELP. I looked to someone who could give me that something extra to help me reach my goals. For ME - that was Cize. I HATE running. I HATE HIIT. I HATE HATE HATE CARDIO. Anyway, but without cardio, that body fat isn't going anywhere.

With Cize I found how to eat to feed my body as well as how to move enough each day to drop 20# in 4 weeks. All I did was move. Nothing special. Nothing crazy. Nothing magical. I asked for help. I listened. I moved. Yep.

I didn't have some magic pill, or super celebrity trainer. I had regular people helping me see that I was ENOUGH. I had Lindsey reminding me to get my workout in and eat (yes I never ate enough). I had Allison reminding me that strength is beautiful and that I was making progress. I had Amy pushing me to be kind to myself and recognize the small victories AS VICTORIES. 

So so so often I hear people say "I don't know how you do it all". Well here is a confession. Neither do I, and sometimes it doesn't ALL get done. Why? Because I am extraordinary.


That's right. I am just like you. Yes you - reading this - right now. We are so very very much alike. I have failed. I have cried. I've hidden from the world. I have felt shame. I have made terrible mistakes. I have fought the demons in my head over and over and over again. I am so very very ordinary.

Here is why that is important. Don't let that voice in your head tell you that you can't do something. Don't let those whispers in your heart hold you back from living your life. It is ok to be ordinary - because it releases us from having to be perfect.

YOU CAN DO THIS. Whatever "this" is for you. Get up. Go out there and take the steps to make it happen. Try, Fail, Try Again. Ask for help. Talk about your failure. Share your experience and learn from mistakes.

At the end of the day even the most amazing stories are about ORDINARY people who took the EXTRA step of BELIEVING they could do/give/make/BE MORE.

Take care of yourselves. Love this life we are given.

XO XO & Stuff,


19 July 2016

The Wolf, The Sheep, The Sheepdog, but...

Most of you will recognize the modern characterization of today's populace. In any civilization each of these characters play a part.

The Wolf:

A predator. Hunting the weak, the distracted, the young or old. Preying on others. The wolf never stops and their hunger drives them. That hunger could be greed - lust - power. Whatever it is they never have enough. Not all wolves are violent. Some prey on your emotions. Their desire is to control you, your thoughts.. your actions. Others will hunt your money. They'll manipulate you into prioritizing goods over GOOD. They'll push you to pervert your value set to match their own for their personal benefit. Then there are the wolves who just - openly - hunt. They will hurt you. They will cut you down. They will end you - because it is in them to do so. This is their nature. A predator - and everyone is their prey.

The Sheep:

The herd. Those people willing to go along as others do. Moving together, but without any purpose. They are soft. They are trusting. They are followers. The herd is the embodiment of those who don't wish to be bothered. They "dont' talk politics" they just "go with the flow" they just want "a peaceful life". They believe that government or civil servants or anyone but them is more capable to deal with the problems and wolves of this world. When asked what to do in an emergency they'll say "run" or "hide" or "call 911".... their thoughts are don't make waves and stay out of trouble. They are also those easily swayed and pushed. They allow the opinions and passions of others to influence their thoughts and deeds. Without anyone to direct them the herd can easily form a mob... lost.... chaotic.

The Sheepdog:

The protector of the herd. It stands watch for the wolf. Preying on the predator. Vigilant. Courageous. Aggressive. Always ready for a fight. There is an edge to the sheep dog. They check the exits. Read everyone in the room. They calculate - threat, vulnerability, ally. A sheepdog does not relent. They do not waiver. They are loyal protectors of the herd. They will do what is necessary to keep the herd together - including pushing the sheep back to the masses. They will risk their well being even as the sheep reject their protection in panic or anger or disregard.


There is something drastically wrong with this picture of society. Something missing which explains the chaos within which we are all wading through.

Where is the Shepherd? Where are the men and women ready to stand up and lead with integrity? With purity of heart? With a focus on justice and truth? We have black Americans afraid they'll be killed for doing 5 mph on the high way. We have police officers who LOVE their communities being gunned down in the street. We have terrorists hacking people apart on trains, blowing up bombs at races and shooting people dancing at a club. WHERE are the Shepherds?

We need more unification and less division. We need more leaders standing up and pushing the herd toward peace instead of stirring them toward violence. Look at The Game and Snoop Dogg. Seriously. Yes. Read and learn. Then ask yourself - is what your saying, doing... POSTING.... is it productive. Is it regurgitating hate and rhetoric? Are you allowing others to form your thoughts? Are you listening to the people - the human beings - to your left and right? Are you a wolf, a sheep or a sheepdog - perhaps it is you who needs to be a shepherd.

Who are they really?
The Media?

What is their motivation? I ask you truthfully - are we THE PEOPLE - seeing the WHOLE truth. Are we taking a step back and seeing the WHOLE picture. ARE we acting as sheep - part of the herd - or are we pulling ourselves above the fray, as shepherds. Sacrificing time, energy - PRIDE - to bring our community our NATION together. If you have a voice, if you are driven by love and integrity for ALL PEOPLE I urge you to stand up, pick up the rod and staff. Open your heart and BE A SHEPHERD.

Martin Luther King, Jr: I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

I will continue to pray for our Nation. I will continue to speak out for peace, understanding and calculated efforts to improve our situation. Will you stand up and lead? or will you allow the wolves to drive the direction of the herd?

XO XO & Stuff,


Psalm 23: The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

28 June 2016

Finding Forever - Putting Down Roots

Well. We're in the 3 year window officially. Big Sexy enlisted in June 1999 and here we are June 2016. We've got three years to get our heads on straight. Fortunately after a very very low point (for me) things are turning around. I'll go into the other stuff later so I don't end up babbling about how much the VA makes me crazy and you have to sift through grumbling to hunt the good stuff.

SO!!!! Here's the GOOD STUFF!!!! We found a builder and community we love. We found a floor plan that is PERFECT for our family, and we are truly enjoying the process. On top of that I've found overnight oats and AAAAHHH yum, but sorry that is for another day. Back to the house.

Big ole house with a decent yard for the kids to play/dogs to run/husband to grill (mow) and for me to have a SMALL (probably vertical) garden. We talked. We've dragged poor Sherri through hell and back with we want a neighborhood... no we don't... maybe we do... can we look at land.... ok maybe we'll look at the neighborhood. Oh and side note - she told me back in FEB which builder we should go with. ((We're building with Dream Finders, Jacksonville)). It is amazing what happens when you shut the hell up and LISTEN to the PROFESSIONAL who's lived here her entire life. Duh... seriously.

Ok so lessons learned so far:
1. Get on the SAME PAGE with your spouse BEFORE you go into the builder meeting - ANY of the builder meetings. Know what you and he/she are and are not willing to compromise on.

Example. Big Sexy at this point has included a third bay for the garage BUT he is willing to give it up so WE (ehhh heemmmm we all know that is really "I") can have a beautiful kitchen. We talked about what is more important - fireplace or master bath shower? WE chose the shower. 

2. VALUE at build vs DIY - spend the money on structural must haves compromise on changeable aesthetics.

Let's go back to that Bathroom again - we KNOW that WE WANT the rainfall shower head. We also know that this requires extra plumbing installed through the ceiling of the shower. Why does that matter? Ok - if you say "we can do that later" you'll now be paying to rip tile/drywall off the wall and ceiling, plumbing installation, fixture and the repair of everything you had to rip out. If you do it at construction you're just paying for the plumbing because there is no drywall/ceiling in the way (yet). 

3. Be REALISTIC about YOUR abilities: Let's talk about PINTEREST shall we?

Look at yourself and/or your partner and truly evaluate what you are PERSONALLY capable of. Now, determine if your HOUSE is where you want your trial and error lab to be. If you feel GREAT about serendipity and your skill level - ROCK IT - but if you are unskilled just let the pros wire the garbage disposal, mkay? Now I am blessed blessed blessed - Big Sexy is a handy guy. He can turn a wrench, construct stuff and do the stuff we need done, but he also knows when a job is too big or requires more technical skill AND experience than we have. Bottom line? We aren't going to pour our own concrete kiddos. 

So yep. Get ready for me to mix in some home decorating along with my fitness, food, family, crafting, snarky, crappy, sarcastic life posts. Here's where our forever will GROW!

The soup to nuts of it is - be honest with yourself - be honest with each other - and go with the flow.

XO XO & Stuff,