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Jul. 25th, 2015

View changer♡

I believe there are moments in every persons earthly life that serves as a landmark.. A space in time that expedentually and monumentally altered ones life forever. I'd have to guess that 95% of the time you immediately recognize the moment when it occurs..the death of a loved one, graduating from college, moving to a new state, finding your faith, etc. The remaining 5% of the time, the moment only becomes monumental when it has become a memory..

I had just put adds down after an extremely trying week..my entire body was exhausted but the thing that ached most was my soul. As I sat down on my worn couch in the family room with my water in one hand, bible in the other,I was anxiously awaiting a quiet moment with God.A moment of soul searching and remapping my goals and future. Just as I opened the book I heard the lock to my front door unhinge and in came my blond haired..blue eyed.. extremely energetic roomate, Britt. I kind of chuckled to myself, "figures", and looked over in her direction. "Hey gal, how was work"..as she began to ramble my attempts to try and follow the conversation were nothing short of failures. Once she got to where she could see my bible , my water, and my tear filled eyes .. she grabbed 2 glasses and opened up a bottle of red wine. We both sat on the couch in silence for what seemed like eternity until Britt began to speak..
"I know your being forced to draw your own conclusions from all of this, and I know you have to be exhausted and confused, I know I would be."

"Ya, I think confused kind of hit the spot"

"Allie, you are worth the answers, you are, and I wish I had them all for you but I dont. But sitting here..right here..where you sit every night after you put adds down..like clock work..and staring at what you stare at..I'm no mind reader ..but Al, maybe it's simply the view."

As I looked around I began to analyze everything around me.
My 6 pak bag, my rooster in the kitchen, my bookshelves filled with plants and pictures, and the TV. "Looks like a pretty normal house to me.."

"Just straight ahead Al, the view straight ahead"

As I re-examined the view I slowly nodded ..

That night came and went. Days turned into months .. new goals were made, new memories were formes, and life..like it always does..moved forward.

Fast forward to nearly 4 months later I was at coffee with an old friend having a conversation about fitness. As we talked about the goals we have set and accomplished or failed..she had asked me what I believe to be my biggest set back is..i chuckled.."frustration..easily"..she came back with a combative "WHY".."Because, I analyze where I have been before I got sick. I have my numbers posted on the wall complete with milages, and times, and photos, etc. I just get so frustrated. Everyone always says..don't compete with anyone else but yourself. Well here I am doing exactly that and I have yet to get back to that spot. So i get pissed, and discouraged"..she smiled.."Well, have you tryed changing your view".

In that very moment I saw clearly the lesson that had been put before me just a few months prior. Life is all about what you keep in front of you, your view. How on Gods earth are you supposed to take a leap in the right direcrion when all you do is consistently keep things that drag you down directly in front of you?? How are you even supposed to look forward to a brighter future when you clutter and crowd your views with all the things that once were?? Well, I am honest living proof that you can't. In the same way that you can't lose 100 lbs but eat McDonald's everyday or dream of graduating college but never apply..well, you can't move forward but look back everyday..you can't listen and enjoy the blessing of today when your still listening to yesterdays mistakes, misfortunes, and mishaps.

Your view is your choice. Who and what you choose to keep in front of you will intentionally or unintentionally resignate into your current and future life.

Life is so unbelievably beautiful and flawed all at the same time. This journey that I got thrown into a little over three years ago has taught me so much about honesty, love, hope, anger, forgiveness, friendship, God, and the newest, acceptance. I am so incredibly thankful for every fiber of everything and everyone that has formed me into the woman I am today. It's incredible the amount of doors that God has opened for me and the pieces I have taken from each one to reform and redefine who I am. To those who have been on my journey and most importantly stuck with me through my journey, I just wanted to say thank you. Cheers to love, Cheers to life, and most importantly..Cheers to the most uplifting, uncluttered, blessed, and successful Views♡

Feb. 11th, 2015

I lived

Knotts Berry Farms..2013..The Xcelerator..0-82.5 miles per hour in 2.3 seconds .. springing you hundreds of feet in the air .. immediately dropping you back down to earth at a 90 degree angle.

Treating my 14 year old "little brother" to a fun filled day at Knotts Berry Farms never seemed more appetizing. Life had been hectic and things were moving at a 100 mph pace.. a full on sprint.. taking a break from life for an entire day seemed to be exactly what the doctor ordered. We had made a pact heading into the park that we'd hit every coaster at least one time by sunset. Jakey was headed to knotts with his buddies the following weekend and the protective "sister" in me wanted to ensure he'd have all the confidence in the world harnessing himself into every ride his friends decided to go on. As we approached the Xcelerator the intensity of his nerves became easy to identify ..as we approached the entrance he finally made the statement I had been awaiting .. "I think I'm just going to sit this one out". "Jacob, the stipulation of coming today was that you'd ride every single ride..to include this one"..his eyes followed the coaster as it zoomed by us and I could tell talking him into this would be a challenge .. "it's ok Jake..what's the absolute worse that can happen??" "Um, we could die"..although his point was extremely valid I persisted .." True, but it'd be quick"..we both chuckled and to my astonishment he slowly drug his feet to the head of the line. As we awaited our turn I stood solid as a rock with nothing short of complete and utter confidence .. but inside I was a nervous wreck .. "0-80+ mph.. 2.3 seconds..man the view up there is gonna be nice.. but shit that 90 degree drop doesn't look so hot". My thoughts were interrupted by the conductor instructing us to board and harness ourselves in. We both got in and I gave him the biggest smile I could muster "HERE WE GOOOOOO!! DO not be nervous it's gonna be fun"..less than a minute later we were removing our harnesses and fixing our windblown, tossled, hair. I gave Jake a high five as we both smiled from ear to ear and laughed. "See, I told you it wouldn't be scary"..Jake paused.."Allie, that was scary.. but I'm glad I did it".."I'm proud of you..and just between you and I .. I was scared shitless"

That day, that ride, those nervous..scared to death..but excilerated and full of life feelings..that's the best way I can describe life. Life is like a rollercoaster. Your strapped in and at its mercy. The views from the very top and the butterfly..breathtaking..holy shit this is incredible feeling you get up there..those feelings are worth the free falling, pit in your stomach, hitting rock bottom, scary moments at the very bottom. And the climb to get from the bottom to the top..the part where you have your hands in the air, your laughing uncontrollably, and you have no idea what's up ahead but you know it's gonna be good..man, that's the very best part of the entire thing.

The high and adrenaline of marrying My soul mate was worth the horrific pain that followed as I buried him. The trudge up hill serving in the military .. never knowing what the day would bring or the kind of news that would come in..was worth making rank, creating memories, and forming life long friendships with my brother and sisters-in-arms. The high of baring a child and delivering my daughter was worth the low of receiving a hysterectomy and dealing with the negative affect of early onset menopause. The low of literally fighting for my life was worth the high of rediscovering and rekindling My love and passion for Christ.

Living life and experiencing life are two different things. You can spend your life on the sidelines, watching the coaster race by you, wondering what the view from the top looks like. But I hope you choose the ladder..I hope you chose to walk confidently forward, I hope you choose to strap yourself in, put your hands in the air, enjoy the climb..and when you reach the top..when you reach another high point in your day or in your life..stop for a second and take in the view. Allow those butterflies to fly in the pit of your stomach, catch your breath as you look around, soak in that surreal "holy shit" feeling. And when you hit that next low.. that part in your life where your in the deep end of the ocean where your feet can't touch..your treading water, dying from exhaustion, anxiously awaiting your life boat, the next climb, the next view from the top.. just remember your last one. Remember the feelings.. the emotions... and the view when you finally got up there.

Appreciate your high points and stay encouraged through your lows. The thing about the world is that it will continue to turn whether you choose to live it or not. Whether you harness yourself in and enjoy the ride or you watch it zoom by you..every.single.day. the sun will rise and it will set. I hope as it sets your unbuckling your harness, fixing your winded hair, and smiling from ear to ear. I hope as it sets your life boat has arrived, you've caught your breath, and you are anxiously awaiting what the next day in your life has to offer. And most importantly. . When it comes your time..I hope you can have the HONOR of saying You put yourself out there and you LIVED. That You stepped outside of your 3ft comfort Zone and you did all the things you never thought you would. I hope you can say "that was one hell of a ride" and that you didn't allow this beautifully tragic life zoom by you.

This earthly life of ours is simply too short to spend it on the sidelines ♡ See you on the Coaster!

Soul2Soul

Nov. 6th, 2014

CMC, or something like it.

“Morning Haz”
“Morning YN2”
“Heard the gossip about duty sections again this morning in regards to Command Staff..”
“YUUUPPP..people think this job is so glamorous..as if all we ever do is sit up there in our glass house and throw stones at everyone else.....ya know? I wish I could just catch my breath.. People just don’t get it..”

The vent session continued as I explained everyday life in the Command Suite for a few moments but was interrupted abruptly by a group of young sailors walking through the back door..
“I better grab those files now YN2”
“Hey Haz”
“Yea..”
“I’m here.. ya know, if you need me..”

“Staff Duty” in the Yeoman/military world equates to working directly for and reporting to the top dog of your company in civilian world. Staff duty has it’s perks, considering you are ultimately protected by the top 3..meaning, whatever they say in regards to your career usually goes. Due to working so closely with the Officers in charge you almost become a small dysfunctional family. You go through failures, successes, good days, bad days, etc. together.. it takes the entire team to make events and the office flow a success. Usually, Staff Duty means you get to go on the most incredible tours and meet and speak to the most inspiring top officials .. It’s as if you get a behind the scenes experience, and a tiny quick glance, at the “bigger picture “of the United States Military.

Like any other job in the military, Staff Duty also has its downfalls. There is no such thing as a “small” mistake..missing a comma in an email to an Admiral with your Commanding Officer and Executive Officer CC’d is a mountain, not a mole hill. There is NO such thing as your own dish, EVERYONE..enlisted and commissioned..is continuously in it. Oh you won Sailor of the Quarter?? You got promoted this cycle?? Don’t expect a single congratulations from your peers.. you only got it because you’re” Command Staff”, not because you earned it. Arriving late or leaving early for an approved personal appointment registers to everyone else as “making your own schedule”. It does not matter if you are involved in 6 collateral duties, 2 major symposiums, and you volunteer 40 hours of your off time to the community .. NOTHING you ever do alters the perception that you are favored.

Most of the things listed above are easy to ignore..in fact, all of them are..I can think of only one thing that cannot be ignored, and ultimately, can ruin your career in its entirety..and that is, the isolation from other leaders and peers..

“Haz”..I looked up from my computer screen to see the Admin Chief in the doorway of the Command Suite..

“Yes, Chief”.. he didn’t reply but instead utilized his hand to notion for me to follow him. I removed my CAC card from my card reader and began to follow his lead.. my mind began to race a million miles per hour.. What emails have you sent out today? Did you get all of the chits pulled? How has your phone etiquette been? Is this about duty sections again? Did he see me kiss Sean in the parking lot, in uniform, earlier? .. a 20 second walk into a private, small, office seemed like a 15 minute mile. As I stepped inside Chief asked me to shut the door, it was then that I knew the deal was officially sealed.. Somewhere along the line of today’s events I royally and seriously f*cked up.

I shut the door as chief took a seat on the top of the vacant desk, closest to me, leaving one foot dangling off the side of the desk and the other foot planted solid as a rock on the floor. I stood tall, a little uncomfortable and confused, and waited to be undressed (not literally, when someone is being undressed it means they are getting their a$$ chewed). .

Chief looked me dead in the eye and began to speak, in a stern yet concerned voice..
“I need you to look at me and answer me honestly Haz, how long has all of this been happening”..

I unlocked my eyes from his and stared at the wall
“Chief, what are you talking about”
“Haz, how long”..
“I don’t know what you are talking about Chief, I need to get back to work” as I turned away from him (completely out of character, having zero regard for his rank) and reached for the handle on the solid wood door Chief raised his voice and a tear effortlessly slipped out of my eye..

“Haz get back here and take a seat, this conversation is not done until I say it is done” Chief slid the chair next to me away from the desk as I slipped into it and rested my head in my hands..
“How LONG”

I sat there in silence for what seemed like hours..the acting CMCs voice playing over and over in my head “do you know how many girls have reported me? And guess what..IM STILL HERE”.. finally, I mustered up the courage to speak..”Since before I had the baby..What started off as snide comments and uncomfortable ridiculous pet names slowly turned into physical altercations..(I paused quickly, catching myself from over sharing.. my emotions took a quick turn from timid to pure anger) why do you even care Chief? It’s the good ole’ boys club anyway,right? I’m going to tell you all of this information and you’re going to sweep it underneath that chiefly rug of yours and it’s never going to go anywhere but the chiefs mess for a good laugh.. and then I’m going to be up here.. stuck picking up the pieces and dealing with the angry after math of it all. I have reported this TWICE and guess where it went?? NO WHERE! So who really cares what has gone on up here when the CO and XO are busy? It’s fine. I’m fine. Things up here are fine. Let’s just go back to work and forget this conversation ever happened”.. I crossed my arms underneath my chest, signaling that I was completely closed off from the conversation, and waited for the screaming match to begin..

Chief slowly shook his head and cleared his throat..
”Haz, I can’t do that, you know I can’t. This conversation IS taking place and I don’t know what kind of Chiefs Club you think I am a part of but It’s not the one you have your mind set on..there is no broom and there is no rug..I already have an idea of what has happened, I’m a Chief, I hear things ..now it’s time for you to come clean”

My mind shifted to the conversation I had with YN2 earlier that day, the puzzle pieces slowly began to fall into place..

“If I tell you will you be satisfied and not report it..he will know it was me .. nothing is going to happen to him cause he is acting Command Master Chief, we both know that.. XO and CO will believe him over anyone else.. “

“ I..WE..have to report it. Whether you come forward or not I have to report what has already been seen and heard”

I sat there quietly crying..afraid to move or speak.. internally battling my fight or flight reflexes..
“Can we do this with our department head and get it over with all at once”

“Yes”

I wiped my tears and stood from my seat..chief opened the door and we began the walk to our department heads office.. but this time, Chief was following my lead.. as if he already knew I was going to change my mind at any moment, turn around, and run in the opposite direction.

The days and months after that were consumed with awkward stares and the drafting of teams. The acting Command Master Chief was removed from his position while the investigation was conducted and the mention of attorneys and court dates became everyday talk. Throughout the investigation and court process several old cases from his past resurfaced, cases in which service members reported the same abuse by the same person but the reports were swept under the rug and forgotten about by everyone but the people whose lives were affected and altered. Eventually, over a year later, justice was finally served and the man who had served over 20 years of “honorable” service was dishonorably discharged and lost everything he had worked so hard to build.

The day we received the verdict and he was sentenced I thought I would never revisit this story again. I thought I would tuck it away in the back of my brain and continue to trudge forward in my career.. Instead, the polar opposite happened. I ended up diving into anything having to do with Women’s Rights and Women Empowerment in the Navy and chose to share my experience at different events. Instead of allowing the experience I had with ONE horrible example of a leader to ruin the rest of my career I began to use it as an inspiration to keep going.. it was as if I had something to prove to not only myself or my abuser..but I had something to prove to every other service member out there, suffering in silence, making excuses for the mistreatment that is happening in their workplace.

Most of you are probably wondering why I chose to publically share this years later and the answer to that very question starts with a private message I recently received from an old co-worker, who I only exchanged a handful of words with while I was in, that simply asked one question “How did you do this for so long”? Puzzled, I began asking questions. Slowly but surely the reality of her situation began to feel all too familiar and all I could tell her was report it, report it, report it. She refused due to the "shame" she feels she would ultimately have to face at her current assignment.

I wrote this blog in hopes it will come across her computer screen, at the right time and place, and that it gives her the courage she needs to take a stand. All it takes is ONE voice, ONE victim, for the truth to unravel. If it is happening, I mean honestly happening, whether it be physical abuse or sexual..it will eventually come to light..but it has to start with that ONE person who speaks up and that ONE leader to listen. No one, regardless of rank, has the right to lay hands on another service member. No matter how stressful the day was or what it is you think you have “done wrong”..no one has that right.

If I could turn back the hands of time and do things differently I would have mustered up the courage to knock on the doors of my XO and CO and tell them the things that were occurring when their backs were turned. If I could go back, instead of saying stop I would have yelled it..instead of ignoring, blowing off, or excusing his inappropriate talk and behavior I would have reported every.single.incident. that occurred. If I could go back I would not have learned to “deal” with it when my two reports failed to go anywhere.. I would have known that there were offices with leaders in them sitting below me and in front of me that would have jumped in and stopped his senseless acts..if only I had had the strength to continue to report it and fight.

Lucky for me, a vent session at the end of a staircase with an old YN2 turned into a reported incident that brought justice to not only myself, but other victims whose cases were shoved under a rug.

Sexual and Physical abuse may be common in the military but that does NOT make it ok, you do not have to become another statistic..

I’ll just leave this right here..
202-433-3108

Aug. 27th, 2014

And a new day begins <3

Please fill in the following, FULL NAME: Allie Brazas..well, hang on let me one line that and initial by it and try again.. Allie Marie Brazas DOB: 3/22/89..Well, I guess I should have written out the full thing.. one line and initial.. March 22, 1989. Hmm, maybe I should just ask for a new form and start fresh..

Hi, you must be Allie. I looked to my right then looked up (hoping there was another Allie in the room or one would magically fall from the sky)..Yes, I am, so very nice to meet you. I will take those forms from you and you can follow me on back . Walking into his office felt like walking into a comforting safe haven. There were big comfy couches with decorative pillows and boxes of tissues on hot standby. I stood at the end of one of the couches and waited to be shown where to sit (there were multiple choices and I guess I had grown accustomed to the military way of doing things)..”Allie, go ahead and sit where you feel most comfortable”.. my heart began to race a little bit and I feel silly saying this but I was a bit nervous and couldn’t help but think..what if I pick his favorite chair? I wonder where everyone else sits when they come in here? Is this a test? I began to chuckle (it’s a typical nervous response for me) “Is this one ok? I don’t wanna take over your favorite seat” ..he smiled back..”That one is just fine..grab a pillow and get comfortable”..PHEW, must’ve chosen correctly. “Allie, why don’t you tell me what you hope to get out of counseling .. I’d just like to get familiar with you and your goals”..”I saw a picture of a girl with this gorgeous short haircut, perfectly straightened, and a long silver ball gown fit snugly to her body. Her outfit and her hair is not what made the picture appealing to me..it was the sparkle in her eye and the genuine smile on her face that made the picture appealing. I want to be like that girl in the photo”..”I see, what was the name of the girl in the picture? Do you know her?” ..”The girl in the photo was Me at the Navy Ball in the fall of 2011. I used to know her, but I feel like we have grown apart within the past few years, which is why I am here”. As we began conversing about my life, especially the last three years, feelings poured out of my soul that I didn’t even know where there. It was like receiving a deep tissue massage .. but instead of my body being massaged and knots being released, it was the deepest depths of my soul being massaged and the feelings I had been suppressing for so long that were being released into thin air and the weight of those suppressed feelings finally got lifted off of my heart and soul. I felt as though we were dismantling a wall, brick by brick, for 90 solid heart wrenching minutes..but at the end of those 90 minutes I felt more free than I have felt in Years. It was like my soul had been chained and was finally set free. It was truly a feeling that can only be described as freeing and beautiful..

Although today was only my first session and I have several to go..I cannot help but feel so incredibly hopeful for my future. You see, today I finally realized that .. while the consistently put together, strong, courageous Allie, on the beach, with sandcastles and waves rolling in perfectly suits a Christmas Greetings Card..it’s not real life..it just isn’t. Up until today admitting that I was not consistently put together, and that I was not unfailingly strong.. would have made me feel like a failure. It would have made me feel like I failed YOU..like I let YOU down..like I did not live up to the standards that others expect from me. But today, today I learned that it is OK to not be 110% ALL OF THE TIME. It is absolutely OK to say you need a break..I’m not saying unpack your bags and live there,but I am saying that it is ok to stay there for a short little while.

Truth is..you won’t always get to spend your life on the beach , finding seashells, and building sand castles. Sometimes life will send a huge wave that will force you off of the beach and plunge you into the deepest depths of the ocean, where your feet can’t touch and you are forced to tread water. And when you are in the middle of the deep end, treading water, it is not a sin to call out for a buddy to help you tread while your lifeboat is on its way! Sometimes, it’s in the places that you feared the most that you will fall in love in a way that only brokenness can stir.

To those of you who have helped me tread water these past few years and these past few days.. I just wanted to say Thank You! Each and every one of you has made a tremendous impact on my life and Journey! I look forward to the future and what God has in store for each and every one of us.

Soul2Soul
#Learningtoliveagain
#Hopefulandtrulyhappy

Aug. 25th, 2014

And the Journey Continues

"I have known three people in my life who were suicidal. Do you know how I found out they were suicidal? They killed themselves. Sometimes it's the happiest people who make the most unexpected decisions"..

One of my soul sisters told me that shortly after Sean died and for some reason that remark still plays in my head, years later. It was such a bold statement, such a true statement, sometimes the most upbeat people are the ones who suffer in silence. This blog is going to be the hardest thing I have ever written in my entire life. This will be raw, unfiltered, and difficult but it will also be honest, forthcoming, and freeing. So fasten your seat belts and hold on tight cause this will definitely be a wild ride....

Somewhere in the midst of my hysterectomy, 14 surgeries, the sexual harassment scandal, and losing my husband..I have lost myself. I don't know at what exact moment the Allie most of you know and love left..but I DO know she is gone and she has been gone for quite sometime now. I know several of my dearest friends and online followers have sent me messages starting with the same question..How do you do it? How do you manage to stay so positive in the face of so much Chaos? How do you continue to believe in a God who has made life so difficult for you? And the line I hate to read, that should not be said to anyone, but gets said too often.."If I were in your shoes I would have ended things a long time ago" (if you have said that to me, no worries..I get what you were trying to say). My response to your message was most likely something along the lines of "I just put one foot in front of the other and continue to count my blessings instead of worrying about my problems. I love God and I know he has a plan for me, I just don't know what it is yet. I just continue to keep my chin up, be a great mom to Addie, and try and make Sean proud". While my response to your questions were genuine..they were also masking the turmoil and pain I have been enduring for far too long. You see, I have always been the strong one, the outgoing one, the resilient one.. Helping others has always been on of my biggest strengths and enjoyments in life. But I have never known how to seek help for myself. So instead I just continue to assist others in solving their problems so I will not have to solve my own. This plan has worked flawlessly, until now. I used to say "I feel like I'm just treading water" then eventually that phrase turned into "I feel like I can't tread water anymore..I'm exhausted" now I'm here to say "The water levels have reached an all time high and I am drowning". I am drowning in painful emotions that I have kept bottled up for far too long..too scared to share them with anyone in fear of not living up to my reputation as the "Strong, Outgoing, Resilient Allie" everyone knows and loves. I was scared to tell anyone what was really going on in my head in fear of being judged, in fear of people misinterpreting my thoughts as self pity, in fear of being an emotional and physical burden to my friends and family. But my fears changed as I was sitting in the second to last row of my church yesterday, listening to my Pastor speak about depression and devastating deadly diseases. As he spoke there was a slide show going on in the background, an image popped up of two men in Africa carrying the body of someone who had succumbed to the deadly disease called Ebola. As I stared at the image tears began to uncontrollably stream down my face and all I could think was .."I wish that was me underneath that sheet"..for the very first time in my 25 years of life..I wished I was no longer here. After Jacobs sermon wrapped up I decided I could no longer bare to carry this weight on my shoulders. I needed help, I needed someone to help me not only carry the load..but get rid of it as well. My knees were trembling, my heart was beating a mile a minute, and I could hardly speak..but i managed to make my way down the isle to where the Pastors wife was standing.."Kristen, Can I talk to you"..I hardly gave her a chance to answer me before the words spilled out of my mouth like vomit.."Kristen I can't do this anymore. I know I'm supposed to be strong and happy and positive but right now..in this very moment..I'm not, and I can't be that person right now. I need help! I need prayers, so many prayers! And I just need someone to share this load for awhile. I feel bad asking, I feel SO BAD asking, but can you help me"..By this time the Executive Pastors wife had come over and we all three sat there praying and crying. The amount of RELIEF that came over me in that very moment was overwhelming. To know that someone else on this God forsaking earth knew where my heart was and knew the intensity of the pain I was experiencing was a feeling that can only be described as complete and utter relief. Someone finally knew the deepest darkest secret that I had locked inside of my soul for years..I am struggling and I need help figuring this out.

Through further thought I finally came to the realization that sometimes being strong means being able to admit when you need help. Asking for help is HARD..SO HARD..our pride gets in the way and we like to think we can juggle everything on our own and we have this distorted perception that only the weak ask for help and only the weak get depressed. Truth is, at some point or another, every single person on this planet will not be strong enough to bare the weight of the load by themselves any longer. Every person has a breaking point, some reach theirs quicker than others, but everyone has one. It does not make you a weaker person to ask for help, in fact, I believe it proves your strength. It takes strength to endure the pain and the heartache and continue to push forward. It takes strength to say "I need help"..and it takes strength to admit when you can no longer tread water.

So here it is friends, my honest answer to your questions.. I manage to stay positive because every day I have a choice to make. Either I can sit in my room and feel sorry for myself or I can make an attempt to be productive and do so with a positive attitude. Some days are harder than others, some days my positive attitude is more forced than others, and some days I just can't force it and fail all together. Someday's I live hour by hour and others I live second to second..but I chose life, I chose to live, and that's how I get through it and manage to stay positive..because I chose to. I also chose to believe in God. Life deals a different hand to every single person. I have been blessed beyond belief in the past 25 years. I have parents who are still married and love me unconditionally. I have brothers who have stood by my side and loved me. I have the best sisters a girl could ask for, a wonderful church I get to call home, a beautiful daughter, a husband whose legacy and love continues to live on etc. etc. Life can get messy, life can get difficult, but there was a man who died on the cross for me and my sins, who has never walked out of my life even when I have walked away from him, and who loves me for everything I am and am not.I chose to believe in him and I chose to follow him. And last but not least..for the unfortunate phrase I have read too many times to count "If I were in your shoes, I would have ended things a long time ago..you are just SO STRONG"..suicide is not the answer folks, it's just not. It's okay to be hurt, confused, lost, depressed, mad, sad, etc. And it's even more okay to be transparent with someone and discuss how you are feeling. But ending your life and negatively affecting the lives of all the ones around you is never the answer.

A great Master Chief once told me "Never come to me with a problem unless you have a solution".. I have now publicly expressed my problem and I have actively began working on the solution. I am getting involved with the TAPS program (Tragedy Assistance Program for Widows and Family members of service members Killed In Action). The TAPS program is assisting me in finding a great psychologist in the area that will aid me in working through these emotions and getting to a better place. I am also going to be joining a bible study group at church and actively trying to get out of the house more so I can interact with greater amounts of people. The solution has multiple steps and is not a quick fix..but I believe if I continue to work at this and chip away these emotions that have been eating me for so long..I can finally find some relief and truly be able to feel Joy again.. truly be able to LIVE again.

Choosing to publicly write this blog was not a difficult choice to make. I did not write this so you can take pity on me and my current situation..but I chose to publicly write this in hopes that it will come across the computer screen of someone who needs it most. Depression and sadness are difficult emotions to try and battle, especially when you are attempting to battle them alone. It's easy to continue to do what you have always done and hide behind the fake smiles and long drawn out positive speeches..but it takes STRENGTH and courage to ask for help. If you are currently struggling with sadness or depression I wrote this for you. I wrote this to tell you that you are not alone in your fight to find some peace and sanity. You are not WEAK or less of a person if you chose to seek help..in fact, your quite the opposite.

For those of you who have continuously stood by my side throughout these last few years I wanted to say THANK YOU! I will continue to blog about my journey and keep you posted <3

Soul2Soul
#Learningtoliveagain

Aug. 19th, 2014

The Uniform Top

Memories of the days following Sean’s death have continued to play over and over again in my head for the past few weeks. It’s like a constant movie that’s set on repeat and refuses to stop or “eject” from the DVD player. So many emotions, thoughts, and memories are a part of the movie but one particular day continues to standout.. May 31,2012.


I remember waking up early that morning underneath my dining room table that had a sheet draped over it so I could not see the apartment that Sean and I had made a home. My mom was lying underneath the table holding my hand and my dad was resting on the couch a few feet away. Opening my swollen eyes was a challenge and as soon as I remembered the tragic events that unfolded the day prior tears immediately began to stream down my face and I pulled Sean’s Dress Blue Uniform Top more tightly to my chest. I slowly lifted my head up off the floor and crawled out from underneath the table. I knew I had to pack a bag for Dover and I knew I had to get dressed for the airport but the small tasks of getting dressed and packing a bag seemed to be more than I could bear. My parents helped me pull out a suitcase and go through the dresser that contained both mine and Sean’s close to find suitable outfits to wear. I remember my thoughts while packing were ones of complete disbelief “There is NO WAY this is really happening”..”I can’t do this”..”How am I going to do this”..”this is just a sick joke”..between reassuring me and dealing with the CACO and command my parents had a full plate. Once everything was packed and ready to go I collapsed on the floor with Sean’s Dress Blue Uniform top still in my hands and sobbed. My mom held me and whispered she loved me..my dad held us both and shook his head in complete dismay. A knock at the door broke the silence in the room and we all took a big deep breath..it was time to face the outside world and head to the airport. My sister Jessica and Mona greeted me with warm hugs and tears and took my suitcase out of my hands. I was still clutching onto Sean’s Dress Blue Uniform Top and had it draped over my chest and the arms of the uniform around my neck (as if it were hugging me). It was raining outside and the sky was covered in clouds. I remember the weather was fitting and for once I was happy that it was not “sunny in Seattle”. Both Jess and Mona loaded us into the van and cried silent tears as they saw me crying in the back seat cuddling what I had left of Sean. Next stop was picking up our Command Master Chief and as he got into the van you could tell by his eyes that his night was also filled with a flood of tears and memories of what once was. Master Chief looked back at me, looked at my parents, and looked back at me..he softly whispered to my parents..”Has she had his uniform all morning?” .. “Yes, and all night too..she refused to leave it” .. Master Chief turned around and placed his hand on my arm.. “Let me know what you need, Haz”..I mustered up a quick nod for confirmation and continued to sob. As we pulled up to the airport my heart began to race and I knew I was going to have to pull it together in order to get through the airport and get on the plane. I kept telling myself “You can do this, if you want to get closer to Sean, you HAVE GOT to do this”. Mona and Jess helped me out of the van and held me tight..both of them ensured I had their numbers and promised me we would all get through this together. My dad took my suit case and I continued to hold Sean’s uniform in my hands with the arms across my neck. An incredible USO agent met up with us and helped us get through the ticket line and the security check point line with no issues. The USO agent even went as far as to board the plane with us before takeoff and ensure we had seats together and that the flight crew knew the circumstances of our trip that day. I remember looking out the window the entire flight with the anxiety of seeing Sean’s family flooding my heart and soul. After landing at the airport there was a Chief who met us and escorted us through the airport and safely to Dover AFB. I remember seeing Sean’s family and running to his sister Kelly. Both Kelly and I held each other while we both sobbed. Sean’s parents held us both as we all cried tears of sadness and disbelief. I remember arriving at the Fischer House at Dover and being assigned a room. I laid down on the bed, still clutching onto Sean’s uniform top, and cried. I laid there for hours as Master Chief and my parents paced the hallway outside my door. I remember Master Chief dropping off food every couple of hours and my family begging me to eat it. Finally it was time to meet with the Dover Staff to plan Sean’s burial in Arlington. Kelly softly opened the door and laid beside me in bed.. “Sis, I know how hard this is,so hard” “ Kel, I just can’t do this. I can’t believe this is all I have left.. a dress blue uniform top. I remember he wore this to the Navy Ball and he looked so Handsome..I just can’t..I can’t go out there and plan my husband’s funeral” “Sis, Sean is not in that top, he is in your heart. He is with us, he will always be with us, the uniform top is not Sean” ..In that moment I faced the harsh realization that Kelly was right. Sean was not in the Dress Blue Uniform Top that I had been carrying for the past 24+ hours. I could hold that uniform top for the rest of my life but that would not bring Sean back. Sean was in my heart and would continue to be in my heart. I had a ceremony to plan and a husband to make proud. For the first time in days I undraped Sean’s Dress Blue Uniform Top from my body and placed it on the bed next to where we were laying. I slowly sat up and drank the bottle of water Master Chief had dropped off hours earlier and wiped my eyes. I took Kelly’s hand as she opened the door and we walked to the meeting together.. with the Dress Blue Uniform in the room and Sean tucked deep inside our hearts!

Jul. 23rd, 2013

Number 10

Some may say "here goes nothing" .. but in this instance I prefer to say "here goes everything". Its the night before the "big surgery".. the big "cure all". And Goodness I hope they're right. As most of you know I've been sick for the past 2.5 years. Although this will be my tenth surgery in thirty months I have to say.. through each and every one I've never been as nervous as I am for this one. I don't know if its because the location (my neck) or if it's the fact that everything relies so heavily on it. My future, my ambitions, my goals, and of course my daughters future rely on this single surgeon and his ability to remove whats poisioning my body. Regardless of the outcome..This surgery will be my last (at least for the next several years). While I believe in being a fighter and fighting for my life and health. . I also believe in living my days to there fullest and enjoying my short earthly life. So, I refuse to continue to revolve my entire existence around surgery dates, hospital stays, anesthesia, doctors appointments, and alll the 'tests'/'imaging'.tomorrow marks the beginning of a brand new chapter, A chapter with struggles yet flooded with healing and happiness. a chapter that takes addie and I a step forward.. instead of backwards or into stagnation. We may trudge clumsily forward..we may lean heavily on our family and friends..we may glance in the rear view mirror a time or two.. but we will consciously and continuously be moving in the right direction. As for Sean.. hhe'll be along for the ride . . Always out of sight but connected to our souls for eternity.
I guess this blog answered the question "why am I so nervous"?
It's not the location of the incision or the surgeon. It's not the anesthesia or the scar afterwards. It's knowing that this is my last time in the ring.. my very last fight. This is the end of one rope and the start of another. So I ask that you say a silent prayer for us tonight. A prayer for our new chapter. A prayer to help heal tge oast and build a strong new future. Thank you for all the love prayers and support. .

Here goes everything♥

May. 16th, 2013

Then and now..

After each storm that comes, several people always ask .... " How do you comtimue to do it? I would've quit a long time ago. Keep your head up girl!"
This blog will answer just that..



One of the things I remember most about my husband was that everything was "easy", It didn't matter what the struggle was or the task at hand, his response was always the same.. "It's all good baby, it's easy". I'd quickly fire back "Hunni, how do you know it's going to be easy, what if it's not?"..he'd just smile and shrug his shoulders.. "Then we'll deal with it then". I always envied that about Sean, nothing was ever a big deal. Life was one big party and we were just living in the moment. I never thought I'd be lucky enough to carry a mentality like his .. then June 19th came. As I watched his casket go 6 Ft under, I knew I had a choice to make.. Am I going to let this moment ruin me? Is this going to be the thing that makes me quit? Am I going to succumb to life’s circumstances? Or am I going to choose to rise above them and allow them to better me..allow them to strengthen me..allow them to change me and pave the way for my future? I walked away from his grave that day with my mind made up ..

One, two, three..sixteen, seventeen,.. come on allie, don't quit now..Nineteen, TWENTY!! The weights hit the rack and I focus on getting my next set. There's nothing like living in the moment.. Only focusing on what IS .. right now..at this very second. From the moment I grip the steel to the very last rep of my very last set ..that's all i think about, getting the weight up and down. Just when I think I cannot do one more rep of any type of exercise I ask myself.. "Why not".. Why can't I get in that last set? That last rep? That last mile? I just have to take it breath by breath, second by second....It's easy, so Why not? Every rep counts, every goal needs to be met, and every PR needs to be broken.. why quit now? And just like that I end up finishing what I once thought I couldn't.

I relate my life to my workouts. The past few years have been full of obstacles, struggles, heartache, hardships, sickness, and death. There were so many times I felt as though I could not bear to go through one more minute of life, let alone an hour, or an entire day. I would find myself on my knees sobbing and praying, playing the victim, throwing myself my own personal pity party. But Standing at Sean’s gravesite on the 19th of June I realized .. Why not? Why can't I go through the next minute? the next hour? the next day? All i have to do is breath in and out and take every second as it comes.. It's easy, so why not? Why quit now?.... So I didn't quit. I didn't quit that day or the next day. In fact, each day that followed I became stronger and more driven. I dusted off my bible and began reading the scriptures and rekindling my love and relationship with God. I began reaching out to those who needed it most. Volunteering became a passion and helping others became a vital part of each and every day. Instead of backing down from my fears, I began to face them head on.. and instead of giving up and walking away, I learned to stay and fight. I made a decision to not let circumstances ruin me, instead I would utilize them to turn me into a stronger, more positive person. I realized that YES Naval Hospital made a mistake that cost me my fertility.. but at least I was blessed with one child of my own. YES my daughter has a disease but at least it’s treatable. YES my husband was taken too soon, but the time we did get to share with each other was magical and a blessing. . and YES I am sick, but at least I have the support of so many incredible people to help get me overcome it.

I can honestly say the same person who set out on this Journey a few years ago, is not the same person who finished it. Life is not always all it's cracked up to be. Things happen, life happens, and every moment isn't always perfect. But when you find yourself in an imperfect moment, embrace it, let it change you for the better, let it teach you a lesson, and utilize it to build a stronger foundation.. a stronger YOU. Don't let the messiness of today effect your tomorrow and don't let the rain prevent you from dancing. Take each day as it comes and live each moment like it’s your last. Give what you can to those in need and take the time to volunteer. Love your family, cherish your friends, and be thankful for all you have.

Never forget the power of prayer and that some of life’s greatest blessings come in the worst disguises.

Soul2Soul

Dec. 30th, 2012

A much needed vent

CHIEF. SEA DADDY. COB. CAPTAIN. SKIPPER.

These are all names that sailors around the world use to call our leaders. When things go wrong, life goes wrong, relationships go wrong.. We call upon them for guidance. When we overcome obstacles, climb our way up the ladder, accomplish the impossible.. We call upon them for celebration, for approval, for that look in there eye that says "I'm proud of you" It's more than a nickname, more than a title, more than a collar device. unless you've been in, you will never grasp the true meaning and importance Of a United States Navy Leader.

These past four years I've had an assortment of superiors. I've worked for a female CPO that used to scare the sh*t out of me. I'd see her coming down the P-way and immediately do a mental check of my uniform, the tasks I had performed the day prior, the tasks I had performed the day of, the tasks I had in the future. "oh f*ck there's chief. Hair in sock bun, check. Nail polish in regs, check. Belt on, check. Creases crisp, check. Swept and mopped the office, dusted her desk, took out the trash, check check check". At the time I thought she was salty and awful, but in hind sight a lot of what she taught me made me the sailor I am today. My old Command Master Chief off the boat was another strong influence. He was my "Sea Daddy". The one person I'd hate to piss off or disappoint. He was either your biggest fan or your worst night mare. He set the bar high and expected a lot out of us. But he always stood behind us, always inspired us, never stopped teaching us, and heaven help the poor soul who tried to mess with us. He was the type of leader that would ask us to jump, and we'd reply "How high".

I know your probably thinking.. " ok, so you had some great leaders.. Get to the point"
Well, that was the whole point of this journal entry. To remind myself that there ARE GREAT leaders in the Navy. There ARE leaders who aspire to INSPIRE. There ARE leaders who are honest and devoted. There ARE leaders that continue to believe and practice our core values.. HONOR COURAGE COMMITMENT. There ARE leaders who stand behind there sailors. They are just extremely rare and hard to find.

Losing Sean.. My soulmate, the love of my life, my best friend, has been the most tragic most heart wrenching most painful thing I've ever had to endure. After he was laid to rest the very first thing I wanted to do was quit my service to this country. I wanted to quit, move home, be near my family, go to school, and raise our daughter. But I'm stronger than that. I'm not a quitter. Making the decision to fulfill my contract was not a difficult decision to make. I signed a contract and took an oath, it's my duty and obligation to see that through. I'm glad I made the decision to stay in, but I can't help but feel so disappointed in the Navy. .

SEVEN MONTHS. SEVEN MONTHS and I'm still fighting to get the Navy to take care of loose ends that should've, by instruction, been taken care of SEVEN months ago. SEVEN months and not one Person can help fix this disaster. SEVEN months and our worlds finest Navy can't come through on there end for a Widow and her family. A husband, A father, A son, A Broter, was Killed In Action. He Died so that you and I can continue to live in the land of the FREE. And we can't even take care of the ones he left behind? SEVEN MONTHS and his family, along with who knows how many others, have to continue to FIGHT through a process that by instruction should be so simple.

Sometimes I sit and think.. What if I were an E-9 or an 0-6, would things be different? Would our families recieve better care because id have a bigger pull?
What if I was not an active duty widow and I was a civilian widow? Is that where the difference in care lies?

Wherever the issues lie with the Casualty Program, I hope it gets fixed soon. I'm not saying the process is going to be PERFECT. Mistakes will be made and corrected, But that should be an occasional occurrence. It shouldnt be the " norm ".

I hope no other family EVER has to deal with these struggles. I hope leaders begin to take a stand and ensure there Casuality Program is top notch and ensure the families of those that are KIA are taken care of. This blog post is about the NEXT family. This is about our next brother or sister who is Killed In Action. What are we going to do to ensure they do not endure the same Seven month struggle?

"We have many obligations but only one solem obligation.. To prepare and equip those we send to war and to care for them and there families when they come home"

Soul 2 Soul

Aug. 24th, 2012

A little bit, goes a long way <3

This week has been a tough one to say the least. I began to ask myself .. Why are you doing this? Why do you keep playing the Navy game? Why don't you throw your hands up and just quit? Request an early out, go home, and just be with your friends and family..everyone would understand! Then I recieved an email. An e-mail that was sent by one of my shipmates that work in my building. We have only spoke a handful of times. All we know of eachother is what we SEE. I keep "doing this" because I have signed a contract and I have an obligation to my country to fulfill it. I'm not going to "quit" because i'm not a quitter. This email was inspiring! This email made me get back off the deck, brush myself off, and go at it one last time. This goes to show that the smallest act of kindness, can go so FAR! Special thanks to my sister in arms who sent me this <3



-----Original Message-----
From: Rupert, Elizabeth A FC3 NAVBASE Kitsap, N93
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2012 11:05
To: Hasenwinkel, Allie M SN NAVBASE Kitsap, N16
Subject: Our Conversation the other day.

Morning Has,

I have to admit that anytime we talk about something I am worried about making a mistake, saying something insensitive, etc. and I think about the conversation over and over again. I don't remember a lot of things in great detail (what mom does?) but I remember pretty much every word of every conversation that we've had since you've been back. So, with that in mind, I want to apologize in advance if anything that I am about to say does more harm than good. I would like to ask that you tell me if I ever do offend you, but I know that you would never do that. That brings me to the subject of this email. As a mom and a wife and a daughter and a woman and most importantly your Shipmate it makes me fall apart when I think about what you are going through, but where I cannot sympathize, I can empathize, and I do not pity you, I admire you. After our conversation the other day, I walked away thinking about how remarkable you are. I don't think that you could possibly be any stronger, but I know that if something else happens tomorrow that you will. I don't think you could be any more gracious to the people like me who know nothing and don't know what to say or do, but I know that you will. What I hope that you will remember is that people try to tear down those that are great because they expose our own weaknesses. You are certainly GREAT, and the world needs you. What the people who tear at you do not understand, is that you are a person who seeks to empower not take advantage. But you are a target because you use the best and most underutilized tool to do so: example. But allow me to humbly validate you for whatever worth it has. I am proud to call you my shipmate, but that is not all. I am proud to have known you and to have been affected by you, and to have been made better by it. If we never have another meaningful or frank conversation, I want you to know that one is all that it took to change me forever. Even if no one else hears your message, given to the world by the way you live your life, I have heard it.

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