Friday, September 16, 2011

Coffee Talk: The Answers

Good morning friends!  Are you ready for a little coffee talk?  Thank you all so much for
your very insightful questions!  I have so enjoyed preparing several posts where I can
answer them for you and hopefully allow you to learn a little more about me.  Sit back,
pour yourself a cup of tea or joe, and forgive me for the terrible quality of some of the
photos you are about to see!  Most of these were taken before digital cameras were the
norm.  I am really showing my age here...
1.  What is your favorite coffee? How was your weekend? How does your 
week look good week/busy week? ~Jodi from Sweets and Shutterclicks
Our weekend was great, thank you!  We were completely irresponsible and spent most of
our time outdoors, taking advantage of the unseasonably cool weather.  Shawn and I went
on a lovely date, watched 3 amazing football games (Go Bears!), spent time with my
cousins, and ate some of the best BBQ we've had all year.  As a result of all that relaxed
time, our week has been super busy!  Weekdays are pretty crazy around here: getting
the kids where they need to be, caring for all my patients and giving them the attention
they deserve, after school activities, cooking and cleaning.  It's also worth mentioning
that Brees is on a full blown sleep strike.  I am ready for another weekend for sure!
I actually don't drink coffee, I gave it up when I got pregnant for Isabelle and never picked
it back up.  I don't drink very much caffeine at all because I am breastfeeding.  I do,
however, drink one or two cups of green and/or black tea a day.  My favorites are
Tazo Awake and Tazo Zen.  Delicious!
I have combined the next two questions because I can not answer one without the other,
they are intertwined and defining components in my life...
2.  I'm actually curious to know more about your time in the military and 
what led you to serve in the Navy. ~  Vanessa from Little Gray Pixel 
How did you and Shawn meet? ~ Caitlin from To Make Love Stay
I was born and raised in a very small town in Louisiana by very loving, super
conservative parents.  My upbringing was very strict and old-fashioned and I was
taught from a very young age about the importance of hard work and self-sufficiency.  I
was an over achiever from the start: I belonged to every single club in school, was an
All-American dancer with UDA, honors classes and student council.  My high
school experience was filled with friends, activities, and a million accolades.  By all
accounts, I was a college bound kid.
But something in my heart felt the need to fly free.  All those years of studying and
achieving were amazing, but I was ready to see what the big bright world had to
offer.  Attending LSU seemed like the most logical next step for me, but I had other plans:
I was accepted into NYU as an Art History major.  I planned to backpack across Europe for
at least a year, and then head off to the Big Apple for an experience like no other.  I wanted
to travel, experience life, learn about the world through actually living in it.
My parents sat and listened to my plan and then immediately told me that they would
die before allowing this ludacrisy to take place.  There was absolutely no way they were
going to allow their precious Cajun "mon cher" to fly solo into the unknown.  I cried, they
scolded, we didn't speak for several days.
And then my mom came home with a pamphlet from the United States Navy.  Her
proposal: you can join the Navy, do all the traveling you've ever imagined, and earn
money for college at the same time!  I was intrigued.  She was smart.  My parents knew
that serving in the military would give me direction, work ethic, and set me up with a
rock solid foundation that would carry me through the rest of my life.  I thought about it
for several days, it was a romantic notion to me: sailing the seven seas, putting my stamp
on a small piece of history.  Most of the men in my family have served in the military but
I would be the first woman to don the uniform.  The thought of that accomplishment
appealed to me.  Before long, I was standing in front of a United States flag, pledging
my allegiance and preparing for a new journey in my life.  I left for boot camp one month
after my high school graduation and spent the next 4 years of my life making memories
that have shaped and molded me in ways I don't think even my parents could
have even imagined.
{18 years old, somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean onboard the
USS Chancellorsville CG-62}

{This definitely counts as one of the most embarrassing photos ever (and my brother
will most likely kill me for posting it) but it must be shown.  August 1997, my boot
camp graduation in Great Lakes, IL.  My Dad is all business all day but, trust me, he
is REALLY happy in this photo.}
I was stationed in San Diego, CA for a year and then Yokosuka, Japan for 3 years.  I
traveled to over 15 different countries and made friends whom I still consider to be a
second family to me.  My fellow sailors were kids just like me: newly graduated, young
and inspired, searching for travel, adventure, and, of course, college money.  
I was a Boatswain's Mate Third Class Petty Officer.  I was qualified to drive the ship
and control it's speed:
I was a helicopter signalman and ran under the helo to strap it to the
deck when it landed:
I went on special missions and adventures, all with some of the most amazing friends
a girl could ever ask for:
I held monkeys in Thailand, visited mosques in Dubia, petted a kangaroo in Australia,
ate a squid in China, hiked through a forest in Singapore, jumped off cliffs in Hawaii,
went surfing in Saipan...
It was everything my parents and I could have ever dreamed of, even during the hard
times.  It is worth noting that I served in the military during a pre-911 world.  Being in
the Navy was basically a 7-3 day job with monthly cruises from one country to another.
We were, at times, in dangerous situations but nothing like what our soldiers are facing
today.  There were long, hard trips where we didn't see land for weeks, nights when
I missed home so bad I could taste it, moments when I felt the pressure and stress
to be overwhelming.  But it made me who I am today.
And now, I shall tell you how Shawn and Liv came to be...
I was one of the first women ever assigned to the ship we served on, the USS
Chancellorsville. On one very special day in the fall of 1997, our history making group
of women marched down a long pier in San Diego, CA and joined the ranks of men. I
met Shawn while touring the ship and we were introduced by our shared supervisor.
The men were less than excited to have us on board as the presence of women
seriously cramped their masculine style. They all avoided us like the plague. We
eventually grew on them, however, and became one big, dysfunctional sea faring family.
One month after meeting each other, Shawn approached me with a folded up piece of
paper with his phone number on it and an invitation to join him for dinner at his
apartment. He was so sweet and vulnerable, visibly nervous. His tough guy image was
left behind and I saw a different side of him that day, a softer side that appealed to
me. However, I was only 18 years old and not ready to date someone I knew that I had
the potential to have deep feelings for. So, I politely declined and told him that I thought
we should just focus on building our friendship. He still jokes that I broke his heart that
day. We spent the next two years building a very strong bond, connecting over our
similar values, our love for music, and our shared hopes for the future.
In the summer of 1999, our ship went to the Persian Gulf for 6 months. We were able to
see some of the most beautiful and exotic places and experience amazing adventures.
Shawn and I began spending more time together, meeting on the upper decks of the ship
at night, gazing at the stars and sharing our deepest thoughts. He understood me,
accepted me, listened to me. He made me feel special and appreciated. Every one around
us knew the truth: that we were meant for each other. My friends would comment on how
he looked at me, how he was always watching after me with love in his eyes. One night,
while walking through the city of Dubai, he reached down and took my hand. I remember
how perfect it felt: my hand nestled next to his. We started writing each other little love
notes and passing them through our friends. He made me mixed tapes of songs he thought
I would like. And it became more and more obvious, that I loved him deeply. That he was
the man who was made for me. The perfect blend of masculinity and sensitivity. And so
I allowed myself to open up to the possibility of giving him my heart.
On the Fourth of July 1999, we were celebrating on the beaches of Dubai. I had
recently ended a relationship with someone whom I had loved very much but knew that
I could not continue to be with due to my developing feelings for Shawn. As the night
ended, Shawn walked me home and we sat outside my room on the ship. He said, "Liv, I
have waited for you for two years. Are you ready to be my girl now? I want to walk this
earth with you." We have been walking this earth together ever since. I could see his
heart through his eyes that night, I could see the intensity of his love and devotion for me
and there was no more denying how much my love was reciprocated. We spent two
years getting to know each other, building a solid foundation for our love to stand on.
And now, it was time for us to walk side by side, hand in hand, and take the world
on. Together.
God has a plan for each and every one of us.  His plan for me was to make an
unexpected decision to join the military after high school rather than go directly to
college.  His plan led me to the absolute love of my life, my very best friend, the man I
was meant to grow old with.  My dad always says that the love Shawn and I share is so
real, we would have found each other regardless.  I love the fact that we will one day tell
our grandchildren how we met on a ship, fell in love on the ocean, made a small piece
of history together.
We shared our first date in Freemantle, Australia.  We made plans to have lunch
together, which then turned into a walk in the park, which then became a trip to an
art museum.  14 hours later, I danced my way home with love on my heart.  Shawn asked
me to marry him on our very first date, and I of course accepted.  We talked about
babies, dream houses, and all the adventures our life together would bring.  And now,
eleven years later, we are living the dreams we manifested on that very special day
in Australia.  We have gone through so much together, grown and changed and made
it through trials and tribulations.  As I look back at these photos, these two 19 year
old dreamers, my heart is filled with the truth of our love and its strength.  Many of
our dreams didn't pan out exactly as we would have hoped, but we stuck by each
other regardless, reimagined those dreams, made them happen through thick and thin
no matter the obstacle.  The love that started on the decks of a ship has carried us
through the roughest seas.  And we are so blessed because of it.
{Our first date: two baby kids in love}
If you made it through this very long post, thank you for reading.  I'll be back next week
with more coffee talk and answers to your questions.
Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends!


Raechel @ Our Island Outlook said...

AHHH reading this gave me goosebumps. You write so beautifully; I think it is because you are writing from the heart, telling the story of how you and Shawn met. It was beautiful to read and I loved seeing the photos.

Thank you for sharing. :)

Hilary@BabyMooHoo said...

i am swooning. what an amazing love story you and shawn have! thanks for sharing it--it was just the dreamy, romantic start to my friday that i needed :)

deanna@delirious-rhapsody said...

this was one of my favorite posts ever. :) i loved reading about your love story, as well as seeing pictures of you in uniform. :)

Caitlin said...

I don't think I knew you were in the Navy but what a great experience! <33 And the story is just lovely, how amazing you guys found each other. Love this post.

Randalin. said...

Wow! You are amazing! I had no idea you were in the Navy. The story of you and your husband meeting is incredibly sweet. Thanks for sharing :)

Lucy The Valiant said...

Oh! I am just SWOONING over here! What a romantic story!

Nae said...

Such an amazing story of love!! Beautifully written!

Jodi said...

Thank you for answering my question! I love me a good cup of hot tea as well! :)

Love the story of how you met your husband! Its so sweet and romantic!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend :)

Sarbear said...

Ohh my you're story gave me goosebumps for real. Such a sweet story of your love. I'm really enjoying all of the pictures too. I'm so glad you found each other and have been taking on the world hand in hand for so long.

Little Gray Pixel said...

LIV! Were you trying to make me cry? That whole story was amazing. I love that you were so brave right out of high school to follow through with your dream of traveling via the Navy. Talk about living a life of no regrets. Amazing!

KimBerly said...

You are truly one of the most interesting people I have ever met. This post brought a tear to my eyes. I love the story of how you met the love of your life.
thank you for creating this blog for all of us to be able to have a small piece into your world.

Maegan said...

I love reading about your Navy background and how you two met. Great photos, great story, thanks for sharing!

You are so cute in all your Navy gear!

Sara said...

I loved this post. I FELT the love you have for him... and he was so incredibly sweet! Waiting for you for two years. What a gem! It felt like I was reading chick-lit, a true love story! And kudos to your parents, for raising you to be strong in your convictions. I had such a different experience. Makes you realize how important making smart choices are! :)

Lindsay said...

What an amazing story of love, travel and adventure. You rock!