THIHM Around the Web #10

THIHM Around the Web Volume 10

August is quickly coming to a close, so I thought I would pop in today with a quick round-up of my posts and projects featured elsewhere on the web. I know I did THIHM Around the Web #9 just a few weeks ago, but I want to get back on my end-of-the-month schedule. PLUS, I had some great articles go live in recent weeks and wanted to you all to get a chance to read them! Let’s get to it!

THIHM for ForRent

Over on the blog, we’ve really been focusing our articles on moving and rental topics (as you might expect!). This month, I had two great articles geared specifically for renters go live: 4 ways for adding color without paint and 4 renter-friendly ways to hang things on the walls. If you’re looking to create a home in your current space without a lot of “damage,” both of these posts are great resources. Also, after years of watching professional movers pack our things, I’ve picked up a trick or two and am sharing all the good stuff. If you’ve got a move coming up, check out my tips for moving breakables safely! (Click on each picture to take you right to the article!)

4 Ways to Add Color Without Paint

4 Ways For Renters to Hang Things on the Wall

Tips & Tricks for Moving Fragile Items

THIHM for The Good Stuff

Over on The Good Stuff blog, I’ve really focused my efforts on some well-timed topics, including creating inspiring study spaces for kids and creating emergency kits for the entire family. Since we now live in tornado country, I need to follow my own advice and get one put together here soon! Lots of great information at the links below (again, click the picture to go to the article).

22 Study Spaces for Kids

(image via 5 Minutes for Mom)

How to Create an Emergency Kit

(image via A Bowl Full of Lemons)

I have our weekend jam-packed with LOTS of fun DIY projects, and I’m super excited about (Greg probably not so much 😉 With Labor Day on the horizon, I am laser focused on getting our outside spaces finally whipped into shape, and I am planning to have some laundry room solutions up here for you next week! Lots of fun ahead, folks! See you back here Monday!

Megan SignatureP.S. Did you see my office update on Wednesday?!? Be sure to check it out if you’re new or catching up! I’m in LOOOVE!

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Renter-Friendly Wallpaper Installation – Yes, You Can Install Wallpaper!

Some of you might recall earlier this year I partnered with Walls Republic on a few wallpaper projects: some modern wall art and a grasscloth-covered trunk. During our conversations months ago, I told them that I really wanted to come up with a renter-friendly way to hang traditional wallpaper. While peel-and-stick removable wallpaper is now available in more and more patterns, I find it is quite costly, only one-time use, and a bit temperamental to work with for a large installation. Traditional wallpaper on the other hand, is much more budget-friendly and more widely available in a variety of patterns, textures and price points. Well friends! After lots of brainstorming and trial and error, I think I finally figured out to hang wallpaper in a completely removable way. Picture me literally jumping in my chair with excitement over here…I cannot wait to show you!

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

As most of you know, I am a pattern-loving girl, and I am LOVING the recent trend of fun and funky wallpapers in stores, spaces and projects. I view a powerful wall treatment as a relatively quick and easy way to add MAJOR impact to a space without having to buy lots of new furniture or accessories. The walls in both our new office and playroom are cut in half with an 8″ ledge in the middle (you can see the before pictures here). I’ve committed to not painting…and as much as I tried to come up with another alternative, I knew these walls were ideal candidates for a wallpaper installation. And boy, was I right! Take a look at my office now:

Home office Temporary Wallpaper Installation

Some of you might be scratching your heads thinking, “Wait a minute, I thought we were going pink in the office?” And for a little while, that was the plan. But I couldn’t shake the idea of the bright cobalt blue that I miss from our old dining room so much; and a sweet reader also suggested that blue would flow better with the rest of our house. After weeks of trying different fabric and wrapping paper ideas, I came across this blue and white metallic wallpaper from Walls Republic and switched my plan instantly! (By the way, this paper is also available in 5 different colorways!)

Cobalt & White Studio Office

I realize some of you may not even entertain the idea of wallpaper in your home, especially a rental. But I want you to consider what the wallpaper is doing in this room. Everything in here is plain: white table, white counter, white cabinets, light-colored carpeting, white trim, neutral walls. The room went from a boring white box to a designer-like room in just a few hours thanks to the addition of the wallpaper. I’m telling you: you get a lot of bang for your buck with wallpaper. So if you don’t want to change up everything in a space, but the room is calling out for some major personality…give wallpaper a try!

Simple Sewing Station with Temporary Wallpaper

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to give it a try! Are you ready to learn my renter-friendly secret? This wallpaper feature is done with real wallpaper and one other product: liquid starch! I recently tried the age-old trick of applying fabric to the walls using liquid starch (more on that in another post). I’ve read over and over again that it goes up easily, and the fabric literally peels right off the walls when it’s time to go. After seeing the fabric+liquid starch work with my own eyes, it occurred to me: why wouldn’t it work with wallpaper too?!? So I cut off a scrap piece of wallpaper, and secured it to the wall with some liquid starch and smoothed it flat with my craft brayer.

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

The paper adhered to the wall perfectly, and I let it stay up for 48 hours. During that time, the paper hadn’t lifted from the walls or wrinkled a bit, so I gave it the ultimate test: how does it come off? With NO effort and leaving NO residue behind, the paper peeled off in a single, perfect strip. Seriously. You guys: I had my renter-friendly solution at last!

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

Throughout this post, I have been intentionally using the words “quickly” and “easily.” I know I’m a passionate DIYer who is up for almost any amount of work to get the “right look,” but believe me when I say this paper truly went up quickly and easily! I think these two walls took me about 3 hours from start to finish, and I did it all in my “nice” cloths. It’s not messy or complicated, and I’m going to walk you through the whole thing!

Here’s what you need:

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation Supplies

  1. Wallpaper. There is one critical factor you need to know when selecting your wallpaper. It MUST be the NON-PASTED kind! DO NOT buy/use pre-pasted wallpaper for this project. ONLY USE NON-PASTED WALLPAPER FOR A TEMPORARY INSTALLATION. I really can’t emphasize that part enough. Thankfully, Walls Republic carries ONLY non-pasted wallpapers, making them ideal for this kind of installation as well as other craft projects.
  2. Paint tray and roller. The size and texture of the roller don’t really matter, just use what you have!
  3. Rag. To soak up excess liquid starch as you smooth the paper down.
  4. Brayer. I used a craft brayer because that’s what I had on hand. I’m sure any type of squeegee or smoother would be fine!
  5. Cutting tools. I used both a rotary cutter and an X-acto knife for this installation.
  6. Measuring tape.
  7. Liquid starch. I bought this gallon at Walmart for $3.59 and used about 1/4 of it.
  8. Straight edge (not pictured). I used a clear 6×24″ ruler.

Start by measuring your walls to determine how many rolls of wallpaper you will need. Take into account pattern repeat and matching. For my two half walls, I used about 1.5 rolls.

Next, determine where you want your pattern to start, and trim away the excess with a straight edge. I chose for each strip of wallpaper to start at the two scrolls (bottom left). For each new sheet of paper I cut, I always trimmed down to that part of the pattern. Next, measure the length of your wall (mine was 48″) and add a 1″ for wiggle room…I cut each sheet down to 49″ long.

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

The installation is pretty straight forward and surprisingly mess-free! Start by soaking the roller in the liquid starch and rolling off the excess using the tray (you do NOT need a lot of starch to get the paper to stick). Next, roll the starch onto the wall for just the single section of paper you’re installing. The roller is a bit bulky, so use a brush to “cut in” with the starch along the top and bottom edges of the wall.

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

Next, take your measured and cut sheet of wallpaper and “loosely” attached it at the very top. Before pressing/smoothing, take care to match up the vertical seems.

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

Then working from the middle of the sheet, smooth upwards, downwards, and to the left with a  brayer, working out all the bubbles and excess starch.

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

At the bottom, use a straight edge to crease the paper, and then trim away the excess paper with an X-acto knife. And with that, a single stretch of paper is installed!

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

Keep working one sheet at a time following the same steps over and over:

  • Trim the paper to the beginning of the pattern repeat.
  • Trim the sheet to your required length.
  • Apply a light layer of liquid starch to the walls using a roller.
  • Attach the sheet of paper to the wall, matching up the vertical seems and smoothing all bubbles using a brayer.
  • Trim away the excess paper along the bottom using a sharp knife.

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

I kid you not…what I thought was going to be a full weekend project, was done in three hours, all by myself. And the transformation is truly jaw-dropping! The blue color is gorgeous, it has a thick, 3D texture, and what you can’t really tell from the photos is that the white has a pearly iridescence to it, so it REALLY lightened and brightened this entire room.

Home Studio Office

While we’re here, I thought I would give you a quick tour of my office setup so far! On the long wall with the window is my craft counter. I still love standing to do a lot of my projects, and the storage these cabinets provide is fantastic, so the counter setup was definitely going to be carried over from my last office space. You may notice however, that I (finally!!!!) was able to swap out the dark countertop for a white one from IKEA (that switch has been on the wish list for three years now!). Taking tutorial photos just got a whole lot easier! The blue cornice is our old cornice covered in extra fabric I had on hand (it helps to hoard things in a consistent color palette!)

Renter-Friendly Wallpaper in Home Office

Another big change from my last craft space is almost all of my supplies are concealed. You may recall that I was really disliking the visual clutter of all the fabric and ribbons and notions out on open shelves, so I really wanted everything to be put away this time around. A few fun and functional items did get to stay out!

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

I just found this brass boot this weekend at a local antique mall for $12! I’m pretty sure my girlfriends thought I was NUTS for buying it, but I think it makes the coolest little planter!

Home Office Accessories

The countertop is a bit longer than my old one, so I get a little more workspace. I loaded up some caddies from IKEA (that used to be in our bathroom) with some of my more-used supplies.

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

The brass trash can is still working hard holding all my rolls of paper, but it’s starting to get full! #timetopurgethepaper

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

One of the biggest lessons learned in our last house is that I don’t like to sew at a counter-height station. I much prefer to sit at a traditional-height table or desk. After playing with the arrangement a bit, I am LOVING the desk floating out into the middle of the room like this. Not only can I face the window when I sew, but I am often able to move the sewing machine and use this table as a cutting table or photography station. What started as a temporary arrangement to take some pictures has turned into my ideal layout!

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

Simple Sewing Station

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

My office/studio space had me a bit down the last few months. It was pretty much a big white box full of white furniture that just felt so style-less and boring. I really wasn’t sure what to do to make it a space I wanted to work and create in without a massive makeover (which honestly, I just wasn’t up for!) and a ton of new stuff (which we don’t need). With a three-hour installation of some pretty phenomenal paper, this room instantly had energy, personality and style. I feel like this space is now so reflective of me, my taste, and my brand, and I LOVE walking in here to work each day!

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation in Blue and White Office Space

I will be sure to do a follow-up to this post when we move out next Spring. I have already tested a few corners of the paper, and it peels right up without a problem, but I will be sure to report back how the paper holds up throughout the year (especially through the winter with the heat on!), how the un-installation goes, and what our walls look like after it all comes down. I’m betting now they will look as good as they did the day we moved in! Who is willing to take on my bet? 😉

This is now my third big project working with Walls Republic Wallpapers. I am so taken aback at how truly easy it is to work with the non-pasted wallpapers. From craft projects to furniture transformations and now a traditional installation, this paper is incredibly good quality and can be used in so many ways to give your home a new look. If you’re looking for a reliable source with great prices, customer service, and quality papers for your next home project, look no further!

Renter Friendly Wallpaper Installation

I hope you are all having a fantastic week! On Friday, I’ll be back with my monthly recap of all my writings around the web (how is it the end of the month already!) See you then!

Megan Signature

I did not receive compensation for this blog post; however Walls Republic did provide the wallpaper for me to use and review. Please remember that I only work with brands and products I fully support and that make sense for my home, my family, and this blog. All opinions are 100% my own!

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DIY | Floating Acrylic Frame

DIY | Floating Acrylic Frame

A few months ago, I wrote a post detailing some of my favorite art selections from Minted for the spaces in our new home. As a thank-you for the post, Minted gave me a store credit, and I (painstakingly!) selected a piece out of all the great options to use it. While I was really, really drawn toward this one and this one, Pine Study 1 by Jill Nobles really had my heart from the second I started browsing. I ordered the print in the 36″ square size, and it arrived just a few days later. I was awe-struck by the colors and print in person, and just as I hoped…it was PERFECT in our family room! When it came time to figure out how to frame and display the picture, I knew I really wanted to attempt the gorgeous floating acrylic frames I’ve been seeing all over the web. I had a hunch the sleek, modern, frameless option would really allow the art to shine; and now that it’s done, I think my instincts were spot on!

DIY Acrylic Frame

There are so many great tutorials around the blog-o-sphere for this project, and I used a combination of a few of them to put ours’ together. I’m not going to share a step-by-step tutorial for what exactly we did since there are so many tutorials out there already. Instead, I thought I would tell you a little bit about what steps and supplies we used, how it worked, and some tips we learned along the way if you want to try this project yourself!

First things first, this project is not as intimidating, difficult or scary as it might look. Yes, acrylic can be tricky to work with, but once I got started, it was completely doable and actually came together fairly easily. I referenced four different tutorials, and I highly suggest you check them out, do your research and figure out what will work best for you:

Here are the supplies I gathered and used for our frame:

  • 36×72″ sheet of acrylic
  • 2″ brass screws
  • Brass washers
  • 1″ spacers
  • Gold spray paint (to paint the spacers)
  • Plexiglass cutting tool
  • Straight edge
  • Packing tape
  • Marker
  • Dry wall anchors that will fit the 2″ screw

A quick note about the acrylic. This is not my first time buying acrylic, but for some reason it struck me as a little more expensive than I remember. The sheet I purchased cost about $56, and with the hardware, this entire project came in at about $70. Finding a 36″ square frame isn’t exactly easy, and to custom frame this 36″ square piece of art would have cost hundreds more than that. So in the end, this option is not only a chic and creative way to display your art, but also a pretty budget friendly option!

To me, the hardest part of working with acrylic is cutting it down. I’ve had to do it before, and it’s just not one of my favorite tasks! This time around, I simply needed to cut my 72″ sheet in half to make two 36″ squares. Since the acrylic was somewhat thick and would need quite a few scores to cut through, I used packing tape to hold my ruler in place as I scored over and over. It worked great; and without too much sweat I got the piece cut in half. Acrylic can crack and snap pretty easily, so I recommend taking your time and score as much as you need to in order to get a clean break.

DIY Acrylic Frame

The other tricky part was making holes in the acrylic. Since I’ve had acrylic split/crack on me before, I wasn’t too keen on the drilling idea, so I decided to give the hot nail trick a go (see the tutorials above for more info). While it did eventually work, I will say this: your nail needs to be REALLY sharp and REALLY hot. I didn’t have any other heat source besides a candle, so I had to heat then pierce then heat then pierce just to get it to go through all the way. Another downside of using a candle is the wax residue will build up onto the nail, which will then be transferred to the acrylic. So…if possible, use a stove or non-candle flame to get your nail nice and hot.

With those tips in mind, here’s a quick rundown of what I did:

  • Cut down two sheets of acrylic into your desired sizes.
  • Clamp the two sheets together, and use a VERY hot nail to make holes in each corner of both sheets of acrylic. My holes were 2″ in from the sides.
  • (Optional, if necessary) Spray down the hardware to match/coordinate

DIY Acrylic Frame

  • Place your art in between the two acrylic sheets, centering it both vertically and horizontally, and secure it with double-stick tape on the back of the art.
  • Once dry, thread the hardware through the acrylic holes as follows: screw | washer | acrylic | spacer
  • Position your art on the wall and note the placement of the four screws by gently pushing the screws into the drywall.
  • Insert dry-wall anchors into the wall at the designated spots, and then screw the long screws on the art directly into the anchors to secure the art to the wall.

Below is a close-up shot at what the hardware looks like attached to the wall. The dark ring is our dry-wall anchor…had I realized they’d show a bit, we would have used white ones. Oh well, from a distance, they are barely noticeable!

DIY Acrylic Frame

The other tip/trick I wanted to point out is to make sure you REALLY secure your art to the back sheet of plexiglass with double stick tape. I was under the impression that the two acrylic sheets would stay tight enough together and hold the art in place, so I originally only used two pieces of tape. However, because of the size of our particular frame, the acrylic didn’t stay tight together and the picture started to slip. We had to ultimately take it down, re-tape it, and re-hang it back up!

DIY Acrylic Frame

My other word of caution is that this framing option is SUPER reflective. I probably should have figured that out, but since the picture directly faces two windows (I had to pull the blinds shut for these photos), there are times of day the picture itself is hard to see because of the reflection! As such, this hanging method might be best for less sunny spots!

All in all, I am thrilled with this artwork (thanks, Minted!) and this framing alternative. If you have a printed piece of art that needs to get up on the wall but you’re just not sure a traditional frame is the answer, I highly recommend giving this method a try. Even if you’re not overly DIY savvy, this is a project that is easily tackled!

DIY Acrylic Frame

I’d love to know if any of you have tried the floating acrylic frame in your own homes! Did you try any tricks or methods that worked especially well? Do you have anything that might look good framed out in acrylic?

Coming up Wednesday, do I have a project to share with you! It’s the next installment in my Renter-Friendly Walls series, and I think you’re gonna love it! See you then!

Megan Signature

I did not receive compensation for this blog post; however Minted did gift me a store credit as a thank-you for a previous post featured here on The Homes I Have Made. Please remember that I only work with brands and products I fully support and that make sense for my home, my family, and this blog. All opinions are 100% my own!

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Organize This: Recycling

Before I get into today’s post, I have to say THANK YOU for all of you who left awesome and encouraging comments on Wednesday’s post! The Military/lifestyle posts are often some of the hardest and most time-consuming ones I write…and in the midst of it, I often wonder if I should even bother. And then I get such an amazing response, showing me that the long writing sessions and soul searching were worth it. You guys are the best!

Today’s post is the next in my Organize This series! This series is not about huge, fancy organizational makeovers, but rather small, quick, easy and smart solutions to everyday household conundrums. Today, we’re chatting about recycling!

Organize This: Recycling

With every move, there is a certain amount of re-figuring out the house, our organizational systems, and how we live/function in the space. Some things we figure out quickly…others take us a bit longer to work through. In this latest house, one of  our bigger adjustments was to our new recycling situation. Seriously. For the past four years, maybe even longer (I can’t remember), we have had a single large trash can to collect all of our unsorted recycling. We’d toss all of our recyclables in without washing or breaking apart or removing labels, and it was all picked up alongside our weekly trash.

When we arrived in Kansas, we discovered the bummer news that not only was there no curb-side pick up for recycling, but that we had to sort and drop it off ourselves. I am certainly not trying to complain here, but after years of not really putting in any effort to recycle or establishing any organizational systems, we were finding ourselves with big heaps of recyclables in the garage with no real means of corralling it or a schedule for getting rid of it. And wouldn’t you know right before this move, we sold our recycling bins at a yard sale because we never used them. However, by repurposing items we already had, we were able to to make a simple yet perfectly functional recycling station without spending a dime!

Organize This: Recycling

When you move, it can really feel like you are “bleeding money” for a good few weeks because of the inevitable new furniture purchases, as well as replacement doormats, cleaning supplies, trash cans, foods etc. Since we had just sold our recycling bins, weren’t sure we would need recycling bins in our next house, AND didn’t want to spend even more money during the move-in process, we decided to skip the fancy store-bought recycling bins and shop our home to see if we could make something work. When Greg suggested that we use the crates that used to live on our garage work benches, I was super skeptical. I didn’t think they would hold very much, and I worried about how best to stack/store them. But man oh man, have I been surprised how ideal this solution is!

Organize This: Recycling

The crates are roomy enough to hold a week’s worth of recyclables; and they are plastic, so they can be easily washed out. And the best part of all? The crates are compact enough that we can easily load them all into our cars and take them to the recycling center once a week. Arriving at the recycling center with everything pre-sorted has made for a much more efficient experience overall…one that will make us more inclined to keep at it!

Of course, I can never resist a simple DIY touch…even for the trash…so simple vinyl labels help keep everything sorted! (These labels were straight from the Cricut Design Space library as is, so they were literally cut and applied within minutes!)

Organize This: Recycling

I didn’t like the idea of the crates sprawling across the garage floor, so we loaded them onto the metal shelf from our old laundry room. Combined with a single big tupperware for broken-down boxes and large, flat cardboard, we now have a simple and streamlined system for regularly dealing with our trash!

Organize This: Recycling

This certainly isn’t a super Pinterest-worthy project, but I really like to show how we use our items and our spaces differently in each home we live in. We had an unexpected need in this latest home, but were able to solve the situation quickly and cheaply but thinking creatively with what we already owned!

Organize This: Recycling

If you need more quick organizational solutions, check out these other Organize This installments:

Organize This: Bakeware

Organize This: Recipes

Organize This: Tiny Toys

Organize This: Wrapping Paper

Organize This: Printer Station

I hope you all have a great weekend! I have LOTS of fun DIYs planned for this one, I hope I get to them all! And I’d love to know: do you have to sort your recyclables? What kind of solution do you use? I’d love to hear any tips that might improve what we have here even more!

Megan Signature

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Thriving & Surviving Military Life: Making New Friends

(You guys! I am so thrilled you loved our new Command Center Redux as much as I do! For whatever reason, putting that specific post together seemed to take me forever (it was a tricky spot to photograph!), but I’m glad I put in the effort because it sounds like many of you were inspired by some of our simple solutions! Thanks for all the GREAT comments, and if you haven’t caught up yet, you can check out what I’m talking about here!)

Little by little, I’m starting to get back into my blogging/work routine. Between the move, computer issues, and the new site launch, I’ve been out of sorts for what feels like forever. I’m finally catching up and getting back to some of the regular columns and series I had going earlier in the year. As such, I thought this was a good time to check in with another installment in my Thriving and Surviving Military Life series…this time with a topic near and dear to me right now…making new friends!
Thriving & Surviving Military Life | Making New Friends

Some of you may recall that back in the Spring, when we found out we were moving for just a year, I didn’t take the news so well. The idea of moving to Kansas was indeed a shock, but I was actually more frustrated and upset about the one-year assignment. Moving is hard…moving every three years is hard…moving for just one year is reeeeaaally hard. Unpacking, getting settled, finding medical providers and schools (and more!), and making friends is all hard to mentally and physically tackle when you know it’s so temporary. I’ve certainly had my share of crabbiness about this whole move (and thankfully, it’s finally starting to ebb!), but at the peak of my frustration months ago, I said to Greg…”I don’t need to make any friends in Kansas. We’re only going to be there for a year, what does it matter. I’ll have our house and my projects and my blog and I’ll be fine.” He got really mad at me for not being open to this whole experience, for not “blooming where I’m planted,” and for shutting down potential life-long friends before we even met them. I got mad at him for not understanding how hard it is to make new friends and then move away from them, and for putting me in this situation over and over.

Fast forward a few months. We and our things safely made their way to Kansas. Everything was unpacked, and we were over the initial moving chaos. Greg went back to work, and I busied myself with new projects and plans for fresh room makeovers. But behind the busyness and the exhaustion and the to-do list was an intense loneliness. Making friends is really hard for me; so rather than thrusting myself into social situations to meet new people (which makes me all sorts of anxious), I instead clung to my comfort zone at home. I tried to convince myself that “I didn’t need any new friends,” “this year is about family,” and “I was just fine.” Weeks passed and our new life was fine…but I still hadn’t made any new friends. Not a single one.

Good or bad, the military provides a ton of opportunities to be social. Between parties, icebreakers, “mandatory fun,” balls, spouses groups, coffees and more, there is often a variety of events designed to help us all meet each other…because…well…we’re all new, we all need to make friends, and the military acknowledges how vital a community of friends is to a family’s adaptability, survivability, and happiness at each new place. Unfortunately, these are the exact situations that make me the most anxious…and while well-intentioned, oftentimes (in our experience) they feel forced and are not very enjoyable. A few weeks ago, there was a spouse meet-and-greet day at our new “unit,” and of course, I didn’t want to go. But I knew it was important, I knew it was expected, and I knew this was a chance to meet some fellow wives also new to Kansas and looking for friends too. As a ball of anxious nerves, I went, expecting the worst. But as I met new people, shared our stories, and bonded over shared experiences, I felt myself come alive and feel more like myself than I had since we left North Carolina. Sure the day was a bit stressful and awkward…but after about 6 weeks of being completely on my own, struggling with the inevitable emotions that come with a move all by myself, I realized that I am not alone here in Kansas and this is really not a lifestyle to try and endure alone. I realized I did in fact need new friends.

Moving to a new place is tough; and even though the military helps us out with functions, finding and making friends as an adult is not exactly fun or easy…at least for me!  Here are a few things I’ve been saying to myself over and over to help me get out and make some new friends!

  • “Just go.” Go to the playground, go to the school bus stop, go to the gym, go the spouses event, go knock on your neighbor’s door…whatever it is. This world is full of different and new people, but you can’t meet them if you stay home. Walk out your door and go…you just might meet your new best friend this time around.
  • “Just be friendly.” I’ve shared before that I am a pretty strong introvert. If you get me one-on-one, I can pretty much chat your ear off all day…but in situations where I don’t know anyone or there are a lots of people in a group, I  get very anxious. It’s hard for me to introduce myself at parties and playgrounds and soccer practice. I tend to stand off by myself until someone who is much chattier and braver than I approaches me. For all these reasons, the social component of a move is the one that is truly the hardest for me, and is the exact reason I claimed I didn’t “need” any friends this time around. But over the past few weeks, I’ve really forced myself to smile, make small talk, ask questions and go to events I wouldn’t otherwise go to. Sure it’s uncomfortable for me, but I’ve been amazed at how much more enjoyable events are when I actually make an effort.
  • “Embrace the awkward.” When you’re new to the neighborhood, a simple outing to the playground can feel like the first day of junior high. It can be hard to introduce yourself and feel weird to exchange numbers…but I’ve been trying to get comfortable being uncomfortable and put myself out there more. I’ve been so pleasantly surprised how nice and open everyone is; and with each positive experience, I’m inclined to put myself out there more and more and more.
  • “Be open.” Each place, neighborhood, unit, workplace, duty station etc is different. Different people, different things to do, different perspectives, different attitudes. Just because it was one way at the last place doesn’t mean it will be the same at the new one. The last place may have been hard, but this one might not be. The last place may have had a lot of drama, but it doesn’t exist everywhere. One of the best aspects of a move is the ability to start fresh, and I’ve benefitted from scrubbing my expectations and biases clean. I’m trying my hardest to strip away some of my negative experiences of the last decade and open myself to fresh perspectives, outlooks and positive experiences!

All those words spouted at Greg about not needing friends were admittedly during a time of intense stress, emotion and frustration. In the months that followed, “not needing friends” also became a sort of protective mechanism against the anxiety of finding new friends AND the sadness that eventually comes when we have to say goodbye. I honestly knew then (and certainly know now!) that those words weren’t at all true. Because while I certainly love to decorate new homes, sightsee, and try new experiences in each place we live, it really is the friends we meet and the experiences we share that make each duty station so memorable and this lifestyle so special. I have had some amazing friends in this 10 year journey so far. Strong and supportive women whom I have laughed with, leaned on, cried for, trained with, helped out, studied with, supported, been supported by and more. And while we are no longer living day to day in each others’ lives, these girls and the experiences we shared are what I remember most from each spot we lived in…and I now know this duty station will be no different.

While I know there are more friends to make here and the anxieties and awkward feelings aren’t all behind me, I feel as though I’m on my way. Life feels brighter and fuller, and I’m sure it’s no coincidence that I like Kansas a little more now that I’m starting to build a social and support circle. For each person, a move offers different challenges, and the social one happens to be mine. While I thought I had this moving thing down to a science, I’m realizing there is still a lot to learn (or re-learn!) about myself, my survival mechanisms, and this lifestyle. This move and my experiences over the last few months have taught me that each place we live offers new people, challenges, gifts and experiences that will all help me grow in different ways. I just need to be open to finding them and brave enough to experience them!

As usual, thank you for giving me the platform to share and process a bit about this crazy military lifestyle we lead. I know more and more of you are or were military spouses, and I love getting your perspective and feedback. If you have anything to add or share, please feel free to leave a comment below! On Friday, I’m bringing back the Organize This series with a simple and smart solution to our recycling situation! See you then!

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