I’ve Stopped Reading…

Books that don’t engage me. I’ve tried to stop reading critically. I’ve tried to get back into where I enjoy reading as a reader, not as a writer analyzing every word on the page to see what I like or don’t. So when I have a book that I cannot put down, I literally find an excuse to carry it with my everywhere until I end up lying awake at 2 in the morning finishing it.

 

Even though I’ve stopped trying to pick apart books and sit back and enjoy the story, I know a book has lost me when I start skimming huge chunks. If I get to two hundred pages and have no idea what I just read, it’s really close to me putting a book aside. If I scan to the end just to find out what happened and that’s all I care about, the book is a goner.

 

Because I’ve discovered so many authors this year that I absolutely adore (translate will be going on a backlist glom as soon as I get home and can enjoy two day free shipping), I have also discovered that when I’m just not engaged in a book that I simply won’t finish it.

 

I don’t have readers that are expecting a critique. For myself, I want to really get pulled into a character’s world and care about them, to the point that I will forego sleep to find out what comes next. I love Julie Kenner’s Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series. I can not wait to get home and pick up her next book, Torn as well as the 5th Kate book. Julie world builds in a way that has me forgetting that I’m reading first person and am living in the story. Her character’s pain and laughter is real to me.

 

Laura Kinsale (as you know if you’ve read this blog more than once) is another author that really pulls me in to where I’m enjoying the journey, not just wanting to know what happens next. Her characters are alive to me and their problems matter. Roxanne St Claire’s Bullet Catchers radiate sensuality, not raw sex, and I love a good sensual story packed with action.  Allison Brennan is my go to gal for suspense. Her stories hook me and I long ago gave up trying to figure out who done it and simply enjoy the ride with the characters. These are examples of authors who I enjoy because of what I get from the story. If something jars me, I have enough faith in the author to pull me back in. Laura Griffin’s Courtney Glass is one of the best wounded heroine’s I’ve ever read. She’s a train wreck and still I find myself rooting for her in the end. I’ve reread Whisper of Warning three times this year.

 

The point of this post is not to discuss which authors lose me but rather why? What went wrong that I was distracted from the outset and simply could not care about characters? In some cases, maybe it’s a jarring personality that I could not get past. Or maybe I had reader expectations that were quickly stomped on and the book never recovered. Or it’s an overuse of exclamation points in dialogue. And what is it that makes me put the book down rather than keep reading to see if I reengage?

 

I can’t tell you what goes wrong when I put a book down, I only know that I no longer feel like I’m committing a cardinal sin when I do. A book I might not like, someone else might love. My opinions, likes and dislikes are my own and as I think about what went wrong in this book or that, I know that most likely, it’s simply something I did not like. I try to identify why and what I might have done to change things, but mostly the author wrote a book a certain way because that’s what the author felt needed to be written. I’m not going to criticize but I will try to learn from it.

 

But I won’t necessarily finish it.

Getting off the Ledge or Get Back After It?

Today’s blog is about perseverance. Today’s blog is about not giving up when you’re so damn frustrated you could scream. Today’s blog is about the friends who keep you from hitting send when you REALLY want to.

 

Becoming a writer has got to be one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve ever embarked on. The lows are so frequent in the beginning, it’s really hard to find the energy to keep going. Even when you climb over a personal triumph, the challenges still remain. They never end.

 

So what keeps me going?

 

Honestly, I have no idea. Well, there’s the desire not to have my snazzy little Macbook go to waste. I feel like I have to get published simply because my DH bought me a macbook prior to our deploying.

 

But that’s not really it. I’ve set this goal in my head (something to the effect of amounting to something in my life) and I’ve equated my future happiness with hitting the New York Times (hopefully, this will still be relevant in the amount of time its going to take me to get published, let alone make the list and hey, doesn’t every author dream of hitting the Time?).

 

No the real reason I keep going is because I HAVE set a goal to sell a book and see it in print. It doesn’t necessarily matter that I’ve told the world that I’m a writer. In my mind, I’m not yet because I still haven’t sold. And that hangs over my head like a ginormous blinking neon sign that says failure.

 

I’ve finished a book. I’ve actually written like 10 books if you count the rewrites (which, truth be told, were completely new books at the end of it all). As I wait for my turn, I keep writing. I can’t NOT write. I get insomnia, I get up and sit on the keyboard, editing, changing, WRITING. The ideas keep coming, too. It’s as though I’ve created a crack in the wall and more ideas are coming faster than I can write.

 

So I’m going to keep getting after it, simply because I’ve set this goal for myself. I like writing. I like revisions, though I could probably use some good direction on that point, but I love seeing the raw idea take shape into something readable. I don’t like rejection (honestly, who does) but I try to use it to get better. What can I change? What am I not seeing? What still needs work?

 

I keep getting after it because I set a goal and I don’t give up. Really. I don’t. I might feel like it. I might take a knee every so often because the weight of keeping after it when you’re the only one who believes in what you’re doing can be really f**ng heavy sometimes. And maybe I still need a boatload more work. But I’ll keep getting after it because I’ve had people tell me I suck before and I kept going after it. I didn’t quit the basketball team in high school (though in that case, I probably should have, I really did suck at sports). Everyone told me to just give up but I didn’t. Worth it? I have no idea, except that I set a goal and I had too much pride to quit.

 

It’s hard getting up and seeing an empty inbox. It’s hard getting up and waiting for the call. But the tiny boosts that come along the way, from the people who help prop you up when you really want to lie down, make it worth it.

 

And I set a goal. It’s either give up or keep getting after it.

 

If it’s all the same, I’ll keep getting after it.

Condense Your Life

When the Cav deployed the first time to Iraq, I remember the discussion. Each soldier would share a 36 by 45 trunk (we call them TAT boxes) with another soldier. That was all the personal gear you were allowed to bring to the war. Your two bags were reserved for gear. NBC gear, uniforms and PTs. If you were carrying a book, it was on your person because space was limited.

 

As we’ve gotten the nack of deploying down, so to has the amount of gear soldiers take with them. But I’m wondering: could you collapse your entire life down to 2 boxes, a duffle bag and a ruck sack? Looking at my entire life for the last year, it fits into those boxes. And half of one box is all my historical documents from being the XO. Even my bags are mostly empty, in that I’m putting all my gear into one so I’ve got room to offload the rest of my gear so I don’t have to wear it on the plane home.

 

The most of what I’m taking home with me? Books, of course. My laptop stays with me in my assault pack, as does a broken down hygiene bag. But all in all, I’m not carrying home that much stuff. The things that are going in the connex are things I can live without.

 

So when I get home, I’ll be able to look at everything around me and ruthlessly throw things away. Its too much stuff. Too much clutter taking up space. Too many toys, too many orphaned keys or abandoned pens.  This is the best time to clean house and start over.
Organizers say that if you haven’t used it in a year, you probably don’t need it. While I don’t agree with that entirely, in my case, I do think that if I haven’t missed it, I’ll probably be able to throw it out.

 

So what’s in your life that you can downsize or even get rid of? What can you change that will give you more time, more space, less to do? Because if I can essentially live out of a duffle bag, I bet you can cut some stuff from your life.

 

Try it. See what you come up with. You might surprise yourself.

Kill the Whore?

In their book Beyond Heaving Bosoms, Smart Bitches Sarah and Candy pointed out that more often than not, the whore stereotype was portrayed as a foil to the virtuous heroine. On my blog, I’ve pointed out multiple times that women in the army who sleep around are remembered not for their job skills but for their reputation as whores. I can’t speak to how women in the civilian world who are promiscuous are treated in the workplace as I have zero experience with civilian work places.

 

Here’s my question: why is it that in fiction, women are not allowed to be promiscuous. They might have had sex before, but it is almost always off stage and before the book opened. I just read a fantastic Tami Hoag novel where the slutty sister is brutally murdered by serial killer (loved the book, mind you). The heroine and her sister caused me to do a lot of thinking.

 

The sister was not a bad person. She simply believed that since her step father began abusing her at 13 that she really was born a whore and would never be anything more than a whore. A man loved her despite this, but her self-destructive behavior ultimately led to her death.

 

I truly felt bad for the sister. Despite her jealousy and her self sacrifice (she drew the step father’s attention away from her little sister), she was nevertheless killed for more or less being a whore. Tami’s example of the whore with a heart of gold did not sugar coat the fact that she was still a slut but she made her sympathetic.

 

Another greatly troubled female heroine was Starbuck on the new BattleStar Galactica. Starbuck believed, because of her mother’s relentless demands and harsh punishments, that she was unworthy of love, to the point of running away screaming from the one man who could have loved her, despite it all. I love the character of Starbuck because she’s one of the few female characters out there portrayed as both hero and whore.

 

I recently read a chapter in a romance novel that I simply could not get past. The heroine was sleeping with a mark to gain knowledge for a man who was blackmailing her. Despite knowing the heroine was doing it because of blackmail, I could not get over the heroine in a romance novel having sex on the page with someone other than the hero.

 

So we’ve got a dichotomy out there. We want our heroines to be virtuous, even if they are not virgins. We struggle with our women who are promiscuous and who simply like sex. But at the heart of it, a woman in fiction is not allowed to like sex as much as a man. There are always consequences, regardless of there being a double standard or not.

 

We have the same challenge in the military. Women who sleep around are ridiculed, whereas men who are ignored, at least until they are caught. It’s not fair but it remains a fact of life. This is the same mentality that wants our women to be nurturers yet wants to punish them for getting pregnant. We can’t get ahead.

 

I’m not saying that we should embrace the whore mentality. South Park’s episode, Stupid Spoiled Whore was a great portrayal of the pendulum swinging too far in the opposite direction and celebrating being a whore, which is not what I’m advocating. The portrayal of women in the media as sexy bimbos is self destructive in and of itself and leads to even greater misogyny. And even as we move forward into the 21st Century, I doubt that women’s sexuality is going to be subject to any great changes. As a parent, I refuse to allow Bratz dolls into my home because the message that being a slut is empowering is not a message I want my daughters to grow up accepting. Easy women will continue to be mocked by the men who sleep with them and the whore will continued to be the foil for the virtuous heroine. What can we do to change this mentality and find a middle of the road position that does not celebrate the whore but neither does it lynch her.

 

Do you dare write a Starbuck? Can you write a heroine who is deeply troubled and uses sex as a method for seeking self worth in male attention, yet still have a hero who loves her despite it all? Can this heroine be redeemed? Would you even want to or be able to write such a heroine? Why or why not?

Condense Your Life

When the Cav deployed the first time to Iraq, I remember the discussion. Each soldier would share a 36 by 45 trunk (we call them TAT boxes) with another soldier. That was all the personal gear you were allowed to bring to the war. Your two bags were reserved for gear. NBC gear, uniforms and PTs. If you were carrying a book, it was on your person because space was limited.

 

As we’ve gotten the nack of deploying down, so to has the amount of gear soldiers take with them. But I’m wondering: could you collapse your entire life down to 2 boxes, a duffle bag and a ruck sack? Looking at my entire life for the last year, it fits into those boxes. And half of one box is all my historical documents from being the XO. Even my bags are mostly empty, in that I’m putting all my gear into one so I’ve got room to offload the rest of my gear so I don’t have to wear it on the plane home.

 

The most of what I’m taking home with me? Books, of course. My laptop stays with me in my assault pack, as does a broken down hygiene bag. But all in all, I’m not carrying home that much stuff. The things that are going in the connex are things I can live without.

 

So when I get home, I’ll be able to look at everything around me and ruthlessly throw things away. Its too much stuff. Too much clutter taking up space. Too many toys, too many orphaned keys or abandoned pens.  This is the best time to clean house and start over.
Organizers say that if you haven’t used it in a year, you probably don’t need it. While I don’t agree with that entirely, in my case, I do think that if I haven’t missed it, I’ll probably be able to throw it out.

 

So what’s in your life that you can downsize or even get rid of? What can you change that will give you more time, more space, less to do? Because if I can essentially live out of a duffle bag, I bet you can cut some stuff from your life.

 

Try it. See what you come up with. You might surprise yourself.

Expectations: Real Life and Writing

Jane L. from Dear Author and Sarah Frantz were talking yesterday on Twitter about expectations. Jane tweeted that people identified her as Asian as soon as she walked into a room, whereas she identifies more with being white. Sarah commented that Suzanne Brockmann’s books were often praised for her portrayal of a gay man’s take on the world but missed the mark completely on race.

 

Those comments really hit me hard because you are defined by expectations of what you appear to be. You are judged and dismissed or accepted within the first few moments of meeting someone. The old saying you never get a second chance to make a first impression is dead on.

 

So what does this have to do with writing or the army? Well, you have to put your best foot forward. A female in the army who cakes on makeup is going to be dismissed by the combat arms soldiers around her, regardless of her proficiency or skill set. Body language experts tell us that a woman who dresses provocatively will be unable to influence the men around her because they’ll be seeing her as a trashy woman instead of a woman who means business. While it’s hard for a soldier to dress provocatively, it’s possible to still draw attention to yourself rather than your skills as a soldier.

 

The same thing holds for writers. Agent Sarah Megibow from the Nelson Literary agency says first thing she does when thinking about requesting a manuscript is Google the author. If there are naked photos of you from spring break, she’s going to think twice about requesting. Your online presence says much about you as a writer and as a potential client. Once tweeted, you can never take it back, so think clearly before hitting send.

 

The army has a saying that when the central promotion boards meet, they’re looking for the total soldier. No longer is your ability to run 4 miles in under 35 minutes the requirement for promotion but don’t think for a second that you can be a deuce and a half and make the cut. Commanders are known for Googling officers that are applying for positions and yes, that means checking your Facebook page.

 

Everything out there adds up to the total package and it only takes one thing to turn someone off forever. A lady forever left the Austin RWA meetings because she was offended by the talk I gave about being a soldier in the army. I really didn’t see anything offensive about it, but then again, I’ll never know. So you can’t be 100% sure what will offend and what won’t but try to see something from the outside looking in. If you can do that, you’ll succeed in creating a professional appearance and managing what people see of you.

 

Some things you can’t change. You can’t change what you look like if you’re Asian or African American or even female. People will judge, often unfairly based on appearance. On the flip side of that, I won’t change the fact that I’m a soldier and proud of what my fellow soldiers have done. I guarantee people will be and have been offended by this blog. I can’t change that or rather, I won’t, because this is who I am.

 

But I can work my tail off to make sure that every post I publish wouldn’t be difficult for me to explain should my brigade commander look at it. I have friends who’ve mentioned maybe you should take that down after a rant and I’ve listened, because they’re the outside looking in. Even though my public persona is a writer, I’m also an army officer and there are things I am not allowed to say. I speak for myself, not the army. I am not going to comment on official policy as established by law or my commander in chief.  But I can tell you what being in Iraq is like for me. I can tell you what its like to work for a captain I don’t respect. I can tell you my struggles to be a better leader and the second and third order effects of failing to make a decision. And I can tell you what it feels like to stand on an airstrip and salute a flag draped coffin.

 

All these things, I believe are appropriate for me to share, as an officer and a writer and mom. I won’t post pictures of my kids online, because I’m freaked out about child exploitation. But I’ll tell you my daughter’s eyes were wide and shocked when we walked up onto the porch of my mom’s house.

 

So manage the things you put out in public. As a writer, figure out what sets you off from the crowd and run with it but that thing is a keg stand, you might want to reconsider. People have expectations of you as a writer.

 

Try to manage those expectations.

Falling in Love Again or Trying Something New?

So it would kind of funny if as a writer, I didn’t love books. But I really love them. I love the feel of a fresh spine beneath my fingers, the smooth edge of a cover not yet opened. I love the potential of the story and the promise held between those covers. There are small collections of books over here, scattered around the FOB and I’m drawn to them every time, just to see if it was something I’d read or would enjoy reading.

 

I have a small confession, however.

 

Brace yourself.

 

I’m an incredibly picky reader but I’m a romance writer, who when she started writing romance, did not read romance.

 

Huh?

 

 When I started writing, I knew it was going to be romance. But when I started writing, the only romance I’d read in years was Nora Roberts and Suzanne Brockmann. I didn’t have a clue what was out there market wise. My mentor Candace Irvin told me to get my ass to the book store and start looking for romance novels that were something like what I’d written. I didn’t find it (though I discovered I love romantic suspense) and I only recently discovered why, because of Roxanne St. Claire’s question as to whether War’s Darkest Fear was romantic suspense or straight romance. It’s straight romance, which means that as I was pitching it as military romance, agents were automatically thinking suspense, but I digress.

 

When I was a teenager, I discovered Danielle Steel, through my grandmother. I remember reading Zoya and Star and going to the library to read everything she’d written. I moved on to Jackie Collins, who my mother quickly banned from our house. At the time, I was pissed but as the mother of two potential teenagers, I can understand why my mom did not want her then 13 year old reading something that…explicit. But my love of romance continued. I grew reading Johanna Lindsey, Laura Kinsale and Jude Deveraux.
I can’t tell you when I stopped reading romance. I honestly have no idea when or why I stopped. But I went from loving all things historical romance to not reading one in years. Then, in 2001, I picked up Nora Roberts, Dance Upon Air and slowly reentered the romance world. Suzanne Brockmann made me want to write about the soldiers around me. Honestly, when I joined Austin RWA, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The wonderful women there were talking about all these authors I who I’d never heard of. I was completely clueless.

 

Here’s another secret. I had not picked up a historical novel in years. I don’t remember the last one I read, but I know that Laura Kinsale’s were the only ones I had kept in a box of things from high school (yes, my copy of The Shadow and The Star still has Fabio on it). The first historical I read in years was Sherry Thomas’s Private Arrangements. I read it out of loyalty to the group of women who took me in and taught me about the world I’d somehow left behind when I joined the army.

 

I loved it. And here’s what else. I picked up Julia London’s Highland Scandal. Loved it. Teresa Medeiros just sent me a care package that included Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas, Jillian Hunter, Eloisa James and Liz Carlyle. I love them. Every book Teresa sent has been incredible, a reminder of something I used to love and am taking true pleasure in rediscovering.

 

I’m rediscovering that I enjoy historicals as much as I enjoy romantic suspense. Something I had not experienced in years has been a reawakening within me. I’m discovering new authors I’d never heard of and finding some that are on my permanent to be read list. I will read every book that Sherry Thomas and Julia London write. I will order Tessa Dare’s back list when I get home, just like I’m eagerly awaiting Laura Griffin’s Untraceable, Skyler White’s and Falling, Fly, and Julie Kenner’s Blood Lily series. Wide spectrum of authors and types of books. That’s not a bad thing.
Being over here in Iraq, I’ve rediscovered a romance and that’s provided me escape from the realities of Iraq. I didn’t like first person point of view books, then I read Julie Kenner’s Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series. Loved it (seriously laughed my ass off).

 

So try something new. Don’t limit yourself by saying I don’t like paranormals. Try one. Don’t refuse to read a historical. Try one. Ask a friend for a recommendation. But try something new and kick yourself out of the habit of familiar reads. You might just find something new or remember when you liked something different and you might just find the inspiration you need to kick your own writing into gear.

Thank You Part 2

I told you I was going to forget and these are along the lines of how could I possibly have forgotten. But I did, so there you go.

I’m correcting my egregious oversight now.  But rest assured, there will probably be more.

Thank you Irene Preston for trucking hundreds of pounds of care packages and books from ARWA to the post office and mailing them to me.

Thank you Teresa Medeiros for not banishing me from Twitter when I tweeted a secret (and for the massive care package:)

Thank you Emily McKay who sent my babies easter bunnies and little monkeys and said they were from me.
Thank you Wendy Rome for sending my soldiers taco night. It was a huge success and started a trend in my company.
People’s generosity this year is simply astonishing and I can’t thank you enough for your support!

The Imposter Within

I read a blog somewhere in the last few weeks that talked about feeling like an imposter. Like everything you’d done was a sham and that someone was going to come along and expose you.

 

That’s me. I’ve been in the army for 14 years and for everything I’ve done, I feel like I’ve been faking it. I know that’s not a good description but it’s the best I can come up with. I feel like I haven’t worked hard enough, that this deployment hasn’t really been that tough, that my books are never going to be good enough.

 

I’m my own worst critic. I’ve heard a lot of authors talk about self doubt but mine is a never ending struggle overcome that little voice inside that says ‘you’re a sham.’ If I’ve won a contest, it must have been that mine was the least bad of the entries. If I’ve had stuff requested, it was on a promise in the query that did not materialize in the manuscript. I feel like everything I’ve done, I could do better. I have an unending drive to make my book better, to the point that I must stop because I might be screwing it up rather than making it better. I’ll work on a manuscript until the words blur and I’ve memorized the pattern, but that doesn’t mean I’m actually succeeding in making it better.

 

So what brought this on? We had an awards ceremony today where members of the brigade staff and my battalion were awarded Bronze Stars. While I could easily look across the six rows of officers and NCOs and see those that worked their asses off, I felt a hot distaste as I looked and saw those who’d done nothing to deserve a Bronze Star as a thanks for playing award. Lest you get confused, I don’t feel like I deserved one, either. There are soldiers in my company that deserve this award more than I do.

 

I look at the comment that still sits like a black slash alone on the latrine wall and wonder if the person who wrote it sees something that others either don’t see or won’t say. I feel like in everything I do, it’s not good enough or that it wasn’t really that hard.

 

I look back on my year in Iraq and I have done nothing to deserve this award. I look at all the awards on my chest and many of them are awards for winning boards. It’s hard for me to accept that I’ve earned them or to hear that I have a reputation for working hard, because I don’t feel like it’s all that hard.

 

I’ve learned some difficult lessons this year, the hardest being that you can’t change the system. I don’t know when I made the change from idealist to cynical pragmatist, but it happened. Maybe it was before I became an officer, maybe it was after, but the system is too big for me to change.

 

But at the end of it all, I don’t deserve the recognition I received and I feel like sooner or later, someone is going to see that and call my bluff.

Growing

 

I’m not talking about my ass, either. This year has been an experience for me, in so many ways, it’s hard to count. But you know me, I’m going to try anyway.

 

As a soldier, I’ve grown because I understand the need for pragmatism. When I was a private or a sergeant looking up at the seniors in my company, I never understood some decisions that were made. Now, I think I can at least look at a decision and understand why, even if I still disagree with the what. That doesn’t mean I’m going to let it go, if its something I feel very strongly about, but I at least try to understand where someone else is coming from.

 

Taking that angle in trying to understand decisions from higher, I look for motivations to try and make my characters stronger, better and more realistic. I look at hard decisions that have been made over here and I put them on paper. I’m absolutely sure that my interpretation is wrong from what the folks experienced on the ground, but I’m trying to understand. I think in a very real way, writing about being over here has helped me channel some of the fear that I hold inside me that today might be the day the shit hits the fan. Am I ready?

 

As a soldier, I’ve tried – and failed – to maintain relationships. I’m very much a believer in say what you mean and I have an incredibly hard time dealing with people who say one thing to my face and do something else behind my back. I generally try not to deal with those, but once more, I try to understand. When it comes to posting on my blog, everything has been tempered with what if my brigade commander reads this? What would my friends Darcy say (as an officer and as a friend) or Bill (as a CSM and a friend)?  I’ve tried to maintain professionalism both publicly and privately and still struggle with this. There have been errors in judgment on my part and I won’t try to excuse them, just that I’ve learned from them.

 

I learned some powerful lessons about loyalty this year, both as a writer and as a soldier. When you have loyalty to someone, you expect that it is returned. It might not be and when that happens, it’s a major shift in how the world upholds balance. When loyalty is betrayed in a public sense, it’s all the more difficult to deal with. I have loyalty in odd places and in other instances, they make perfect sense. I have incredibly loyalty to soldiers on the ground who are accused because no one knows what decisions they’ve had to make or how they made them.  I won’t defend some decisions because they are an anathema to everything we stand for as soldiers and I won’t say I won’t try to understand. But I do know that a soldier on the ground makes a thousand life altering decisions in the space of seconds, so I try to understand that before I step aside and let the stone throwing begin.

 

As a writer, my single biggest accomplishment (other than landing a fab agent) was learning to revise my own stuff. Working with an awesome critique partner taught me how to look at her stuff and say why something was bothering me. In turn, I was able to take that same skill set and start applying it to mine. I’ve still got miles to go before this skill gets to where it needs to be, but I’ve at least been able to look at that draft and say nah, you need to go, the whole thing. I’m starting over. So we’ll see what happens when I start revising that second draftJ

 

This year in Iraq has not been easy. I’ve struggled with depression and insomnia. I haven’t used my insomnia to write – but I’m fixing to. If I can’t sleep, I might as well get out of bed and do something worthwhile. I’ve read and read and read some more and learned so much about writing and different authors and techniques. I’ve added some new favorites to my list of will read everything they write and I’m always open to suggestion for something new. I learned a lot about the publishing industry as a whole, just as I’ve learned about how the army works and the pragmatism that is ever present, regardless of the ideals you might hope for.

 

The whole point of this post is to keep learning and keep watching. There are character studies all around you. Look at a reaction and try to figure out where they’re coming from. Never pass of a moment to learn from something or someone around you. I’ve had some great teachers and I’m just grateful they haven’t given up on me, because I’ve learned some powerful lessons this year.