February 8, 2016

We had a plan, and we were sticking to it.

taking risks and making choices amy poehler (1 of 1)Our plan was that Nick would get out of the military as soon as his job in Hawaii was done. No more deployments, no more being told where to live and when to show up. No more being told when we could take a vacation. No more anniversaries apart. No more telling our family we won’t be home for the holidays. This had been our plan for the past eight years, without question. Sounds great, right?

Oh, what a difference a year makes.

Soon after 2015 started, Nick and I started having serious conversations about whether or not he actually should get out of the military. It took us six months, but we finally came to the decision that we both enthusiastically wanted Nick to stay in.

For the past eight years that we have been together, Nick and I had this idealized idea of what civilian life would be like, especially when military life got hard. But we never, ever took a step back to reconsider our options. We never thought about all of the awesome benefits of staying in the military, and we never really realized how much we do love this crazy adventure. Even when it’s hard.

We just had a plan, and we were sticking to it.

A few things happened that made us seriously start talking about whether or not Nick should stay in the military. We reconsidered what had previously been unthinkable, unquestionable, and not even open for discussion. We had conversations that we never felt prepared to have.

We did a lot of talking, to each other, to Nick’s coworkers who were getting out of the military, to those who were staying in, to captains and their wives who have been doing this for over 20 years, and to people who were not affiliated with the military at all. In the end, Nick and I realized that we love moving around and living new places. We thought about how much Nick loves his job. We talked about the people he works with, about this beautiful camaraderie in the military. We talked about what an amazing support system military families are for each other. There are a lot of other important and deeply personal reasons why we decided Nick should stay in, but if I get into them all right now this post will get away from me.

Most importantly, for me, I realized that I was totally capable of handling moves, deployments, and whatever else the military could throw at me. More than that, I realized that I love being a military spouse. I don’t want the adventure to end just yet.

the two year honeymoon (1 of 1)

As we talked about it more, we got excited for the new opportunities that were suddenly in front of us. But weren’t they there all along? Not if we didn’t recognize them, if we weren’t open to them.

This year, be open to taking risks and making choices. Plans and goals are good, very good. But keep your heart open so that when new ideas and opportunities come your way, you can at least consider them. You don’t need to take unnecessary risks or do something you don’t want to do, but if you at least think carefully about all of your options, I think you will be happier in the long run with whatever choice you make.

Priorities change. Opportunities arise. Be fearless as you embrace whatever changes come your way.

As I write this, I am sitting on the floor of our home, because, as you know, we lost all of our furniture to mold during our move. Everything else that survived the mold is sprawled out on the floor, because without furniture, we don’t have many places to put stuff. There are empty boxes everywhere. And six months from now, we will uproot again and be living somewhere new.


Nick and I are together. We just had an amazing weekend exploring a state we never would have lived had it not been for the military. Because of all of this snow, Nick is in the middle of a 4-day weekend. We had the chance to live in Hawaii. Now, we are close to my family, and I already have tons of things planned in the upcoming months with my friends and family who are nearby. In a few months, we will get to have a brand new adventure. I know good people who I never would have met if Nick wasn’t in the military. Nick is excited about his work. And we have an amazing support system of people who believe in us and love us. I’m happy with my choice, and I believe I made an informed one.

How did Nick and I end up living a life we never thought we would be living? And how did we get so excited about it? In the words of Amy Poehler, “taking risks and making choices is what makes life so exciting.” 

Take risks. Make choices.

What risks will you take this year?


– Carolann

12 responses to “On taking risks and making choices.”

  1. Alan Savage says:

    Another great post. You two are an inspiration!

    • Carolann says:

      Thank you, Alan, and thank you for much for reading and for supporting me. Your thoughtful and kind comments always make my day.

  2. Jenn says:

    I love reading posts like this where people talk about the positives of military life. It was such a fast decision for Josh and everything happened very quickly and I didn’t really have a chance to get my head around what we were getting ourselves into until he had left for basic. I hope our experience is as positive as yours! I am definitely looking forward to getting to live in different places 🙂

    • Carolann says:

      Thanks Jenn! It really has been a wonderful experience. My husband has been in the military since before I knew him but we always thought he would get out. We both love it so much that he keeps signing new contracts which I think says a lot! There are a lot of ups and downs, but the the ups are amazing and make the downs totally worth it. You always have support in me!

  3. LisaLDN says:

    This is a great post! 🙂 I don’t know much about the military life, which makes it so much more interesting to read first hand!

    I guess my big risk this year will be not applying for a full time job after graduating my Masters Degree. I’m taking a year to travel and focus on my travel blog, and my parents couldn’t be more stressed about it.

    Hopefully there will still be the possibility of a ‘normal’ job waiting for me when I finish, but for now I don’t even want to think about it! I just want to travel <3

    • Carolann says:

      I totally support this decision! I think you will learn and experience so much more than you would in a regular job for a year. “Normal jobs’ can wait – who knows where this will lead?!

  4. kari says:

    I stumbled across your blog and am thankful I did. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on military life here. I’m a relatively new military spouse–three years and counting–and we have our first big move as a couple coming up this spring. I hope I open myself up to risks and plunge fully into our new community.

    • Carolann says:

      Hey there Kari! I’m so glad you reached out. We just finished a huge move from Hawaii to Connecticut, so if you need any help or advice I’m here for you. I think that for me one of the hardest aspects of military life is plunging into the community wherever we go. I am kind of shy by nature but I think it is good for me to go out of my comfort zone and try to meet new people. Military spouses are the best support and make great friends – there is this instant bond you share. I just know that wherever you go you will find amazing support and friendship.

  5. Isabel says:

    I love this, I am glad you are going with this with your whole heart. The best is yet to come!

  6. […] But that’s exactly what we did (more about that decision in this post!). […]

  7. […] I planned, I know I can come up with a different solution. When Nick and I realized that we wanted to completely change our life plan, we knew that it was okay to change our minds. When the Navy tells us to pack up and move across […]

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