When In Rome

This last week was the best week I’ve had since I left home on June 4th.  I had the opportunity to travel to one of the other camps in Afghanistan to perform an assessment.  The host nation for the camp happens to be the Italians.  After this last week I feel in love with Italians, and truly embrace the phrase “When in Rome, do as the Roman’s Do”.  While there you still know you are in Afghanistan, but somehow they found a way to make you feel like you’re in Italy.  We did a lot of work and accomplished the mission, yet despite the long hours I still wanted to stay.   The Italians showed us true hospitality from the moment we touched down and continue to extend this hospitality even after we are gone.  Our sponsor was an Italian, Gianluca, and I certainly made an Italian friend!

The good looking TEAM!

The Italians are just happy.  They smiled and spent time to really get to know each other.  There was true comradery among their ranks and they continuously extended the same comradery to us.  Multiply times a day we had to take an espresso break.  Of course it was an Italian espresso break, not an American coffee break.  Italians don’t drink brown water!  Three or four times a day we would meet in one of the many cafes and have an Italian espresso.  I really enjoyed these breaks.  The Italians take 15 minutes every few hours to take a break, talk, get to know each other, do a little business and just laugh.  Because of this they are just happy.  They get the work done, but with a smile and a caffeine high.  I explained to Gianluca how in Kabul we walk around a little down cast and we just lake the joy I saw at the Italian camp.  He was shocked we would or even could operate like that.  They just could not understand why we choose to be miserable.

The every 2 hour espresso break!

The air quality there is much better than here in Kabul.  I was able to run outside which was amazing.  I have not run outside since we were in North Carolina over 2 months ago.  I have no problem doing all my training on a treadmill, but it was really nice to get outside and enjoy a run in the mountains!

My first out door run since June!
The view during my run.  It’s so sad that this place is so beautiful, I wish it was safe!

The food was amazing.  They have an Italian dining facility and the food was delicious.  There was ceviche, delicious pasta sauce, and pasta of course.  There were grilled tomatoes for breakfast and aged parmesan.  The best part for the first time in months my stomach was not upset.  I actually digested my food.  I really enjoyed every meal.

May not look fancy, but it tasted fancy to me!

There were other really great parts.  I had my own room and that was divine.  I can’t complain about my roommate here in Kabul.  Her and I get along, but it was nice to have my own space.  I mean to be able to fart whenever you want is a welcomed changed!  The part I did find strange was we had to purchase our own toilet paper. Although I would buy my own toilet paper in exchange for my own room.

We were treated like VIPs the entire trip, it made me forget where I was for a few days.  We even flew VIP flights to and from.  I enjoyed the time away even though we worked late and accomplish a lot.  It was nice to get away.  I traveled with two really great officers, one Air Force and one Navy.  I hope if for nothing else I can bring a little Rome back with me to Kabul.  They get their work done, but they are just happy.  I am choosing to be happy, no misery here  I want to change the saying a little and recommend when in Rome do like the Italians in Afghanistan!

View from my VIP flight and selfie of me inside!

Your Anthem, Music Therapy!

This week I’m going to take you on a musical journey that started when I was 16 in the year 1900 and 98. Let me set the stage. CD’s were still the preferred way to listen to music.  I drove around in a Buick Century with a tape deck, and I had a large collection of homemade mixed tapes. I was in love with who I thought was going to be my forever boyfriend, which I was certainly wrong about. Within a year he broke my heart, but in an effort to make me feel better he let me borrow his sister’s CD Rock Spectacle by the Barenaked Ladies. I ended up falling in love again, but this time with a CD.  Prior to every cross-country meet I would listen to that CD in its entirety.  There was something about the album as a whole that relaxed yet motivated me for each race. At the time my favorite song on that album was “Break Your Heart.”


About a year after the breakup and my new-found love of the Barenaked Ladies, my brave father took 6 high school seniors to a Barenaked Ladies concert in Milwaukee on a Tuesday night in December.  Prior to the concert I thought I was a Barenaked Ladies fan, but afterwards I became a super fan.  We had floor seats at the Bradley Center with just enough space to dance and sing as high school girls should (I might still do the same at concerts today.  I am still a high school girl at any and all concerts).  My dad has been playing Santa for decades now and it was December and he was in full white beard. During “The Million Dollar” song they put my dad on the jumbo-tron, which made the experience even more memorable.


Throughout my college years, “Call and Answer” became my new favorite song.  I went to college at Purdue and I moved away from home and my friends.  I needed to know there were always people to Call on who would Answer, and there always were.  One college summer Katie Bleier and I made it to another Barenaked Ladies concert at Summer Fest. At this point they were the opening for, I believe, Alanis Morissette. Katie correct me if I’m wrong.  We didn’t even stay for all of her concert, we just wanted to hear our Barenaked Ladies and leave.

prom with Katie
Katie and I at Senior Prom year, 2001 (we still look the same, but are much more mature)!  Thank you Katie for finding this picture and sending it to me for the blog.  We are long over due for a dance party and I can’t wait to have one when I get back!

The years passed. I graduated from college.  I lost my Rock Spectacle CD in one of the many moved between college and the Navy, but in 2009 I decided I needed it again. Yes, I bought a CD when everyone was downloading music. Trust me my daily listening was streamed through iHeartRadio, but there was something special about owning that CD again.  As you read this, that very CD is in the Honda Pilot at home TJ is driving with three lovely babies in the backseat.  There is just something about that album that has always calmed me and gotten me through. I listened to that album driving to the hospital hoping my cousin was still alive and I still use it before all my big races.

On May 16th, my last day of work at Life Fitness before I left, Brittney Kieres, an amazing co-worker who I consider a good friend, agreed to go to a Barenaked Ladies concert with me.  As I stated, I still like to act like a high school girl at concerts only now I can partake in adult beverages while I’m there. This time they were not opening for anyone, but they were performing at a small venue.  Like back in high school my dad came along and I wanted to share the joy of the Barenaked Ladies so I brought Timyra to her first concert. TJ refused to go, he thinks I can get embarrassing.  Ask him about when we went to the Bryan “Darchelle” Adams concert.

All of us at the concert, probably before Timyra told me I embarrassed her! I better watch out or no one will go to concerts with me!

To prep for the concert I bought the most recent Barenaked Ladies CD’s. Yes, again in the age of music streaming I bought CD’s. Timyra and I would listen to them in the car to and from school.  I wanted to make sure we were ready to dance and sing all night.  One of the songs stuck with me, “Odds Are.” This song is my new Barenaked Ladies Anthem. I’m listening as I write this.

So my 16-year-old self would say: “What’d you think that I was gonna do, Curl up and die just because of you? I’m not that weak, you know What’d you think that I was gonna do, Try to make you love me as much as I love you? How could you be so low? You arrogant man, What do you think that I am? My heart will be fine just stop wasting my time”

And my early 20 something self would say:  “I think it’s getting to the point Where I can be myself again I think it’s getting to the point where we have almost made amends.  I think it’s the getting to the point that is the hardest part.  And if you call, I will answer And if you fall, I’ll pick you up and if you court this disaster I’ll point you home I’ll point you home”

And my 30 something self would say:  “Hit by the A-train, crashed in an airplane.  Wouldn’t recommend either one.  Killed by a Great White, or a meteorite I guess there ain’t no way to go that’s fun.  But somewhere in the world someone is gonna fall in love by the end of this Song.  So get up, get up.  No it’s never gonna let up so you might as well sing along.  Odds are that we will probably be alright.  Odds are we’re gonna be alright, odds are we’re gonna be alright tonight.  Odds are that we will probably be alright.  Odds are we’re gonna be alright, odds are we’re gonna be alright for Another night”

Music is a powerful thing.  I believe we all have our anthems.  No matter what the day or how I feel there is always a song to get me back up, motivate me, and just keep me going. The entire time I wrote this I listened to all these songs and albums and it just made me happy. This week was hard and every day was a struggle to not count the many, many days I have left here, but these songs made the difference. What is your anthem? How do you tell your story through music?  Remember no matter your mood, there is a song out there to help. Call it music therapy.



Again it was one of those weeks where I started writing my post and half way through writing I changed topics.  I will save the other one for another week.    

Last week I wrote about a group of awesome athletes.  For the last 2 years at Life Fitness every Wednesday at lunch we would get together and do a Tabata style High Intensity Interval class.  Each week I would show up for what they affectionately called the “Evil Workout.”  They would endure my music choices ranging from 90’s pop including M.C. Hammer to music of questionable content, but in my mind it was all motivating.  They would listen to me sing and they endured my stories, which included many sarcastic comments. 

90's pop

I received an email early this week from one of those amazing athletes who SHOWED UP every week and worked hard.  His name is Andy and in the last year he went from living a rather sedentary life to learning how to swim (he just swam his first open water swim), and plans to start biking this fall which will all lead up to his first triathlon next year.  I want to share what he wrote, “In retrospect your workouts were pretty influential in kicking my butt into gear.  I’m a believer that one of the most important things in life is simply just showing up.  Seeing where I was and where I am now shows how important it is to show up every week.  Looking forward to when we can do workouts together again.”  I didn’t do anything but SHOW UP each week and workout, but because I SHOWED UP Andy learned how to push himself and then he started SHOWING UP at the pool and SHOWING UP at group runs and as the year goes on he’ll continue to SHOW UP places last year he wasn’t sure he would.     

Andy’s Facebook  post

What that group doesn’t realize, is each week they SHOWED UP and each week they all pushed me.  I would never tell them this in class (although they know now since I know they’re reading), many times they pushed me to do things I didn’t want to do.  I would write workouts I would never do by myself, but I knew I would if I was standing in front of a class.  To prove to them it’s true, I didn’t do a burpee or a push up for almost a month after I left.  Only in the last few weeks have I started again.  I’ve started writing workouts again and I do them on Monday mornings before work.  I am forced to do them in a super nasty gym, my hands are black from touching the floor, but I still do them.  I SHOW UP!   – I will mention I have not done a wall sit since I left.  I will start this coming Monday, I promise to SHOW UP! 

A long over due wall sit!

 I’m not there to SHOW UP, but I try to SHOW UP in my own way.  I send workouts back to class.  I SHOW UP and do my workouts by myself.  Further, I SHOW UP each day by calling home.  Yesterday I just watched Timyra play and I felt like I was home even if it was for only 10 minutes.  I think everyone at home would say I SHOW UP in Taylyn every day.  She’s a feisty little pistol who does things her way.  They say she’s evening looking more like her mom every day.  I SHOW UP in TJ who has adapted to paperwork.  He just registered the kids for all their fall and winter activities.  I SHOW UP in my mom, I mean my kids call me Grandma-mom now.  She’s a good substitute and is certainly SHOWING UP every day and loving my babies.


mom and baby 2
There is some resemblance between Taylyn and me!

Right now I may be a JANR, but I SHOW UP.  I SHOW UP every day and I do my job.  This last week I even showed a few Army folks I can do more than just SHOW UP, but they never would have known unless I had SHOWN UP.  

SHOWING UP is the hardest and easiest part of anything.  Think about it, what didn’t show up for that you could have.  Was it a workout, signing up for a class, visiting a friend or family member or simply not doing something you knew you should?  Remember the first step to anything is just SHOWING UP.  Everything else will eventually fall into place.  You never know when you decide to SHOW UP who’s live you are changing and in return you are changing yourself.  When you start to SHOW UP you start to SHOW UP in other people too and that is a really cool thing.  I want to know where you are going to start SHOWING UP.  JUST SHOWING UP could be the start of something great, don’t miss out DO by SHOWING UP!



Here in Afghanistan I work on a NATO base.  We work with representatives from the different NATO countries.  There are very few U.S. Navy personnel here at Resolute Support Head Quarters, Kabul, which makes us the minority.  To make the U.S. Navy personnel feel even more out-of-place, we are all Navy Reservists who for the most part are  performing jobs well outside of our traditional warfare areas.  I am trained as a Surface Warfare Officer, and as you know Afghanistan is a land lock country.  There is no need for a Surface Warfare Officer where there is no water.  What there is a need for is a warm bodied semi-competent officer to do the job.  I fit that criteria, so here I am.

There certainly is a cultural difference between the different services.  I sense the U.S. Army feels they are the superior service which I really just find annoying.  I am still a trained war fighter, just not a land warfighter.  I spent 7 years on active duty.  I deployed for 4 years continuously onboard 2 war fighting ships.  Yet, ask any Soldier here and they truly believe this is my first deployment.  They are correct this is my first deployment where I can video call my family every day or make a phone call at all, the mail gets here within 10 days (not 2 months), we don’t run out of fresh food after only 7 days, the treadmills don’t move while I’m running, and I sleep more than 4 hours at a time.

Military communications

Once a month the group of Navy black sheep get together for a few hours.  While I was there I was asked if I wanted to be part of the JANR.  Being curious I asked, what is that?  Well JANR stands for Just A Navy Reservists, and that is what we are.  I need to just embrace who I am here.  We, the JANR, are not going to change the pride of the U.S. Soldier, so we just need to embrace it.  Plus I’m sure the Soldier’s pride helps them perform their duties as Soldiers.  I am a JANR.  When I leave here I go home to my family and my civilian job.  I’m not competing against anyone else here for the next promotion or billet (job).  The next promotion board will look at my fitness report (equivalent to a year-end evaluation) and say check she deployed and did something.  I have no pressure other than to come home in one piece and do my job.  I will do the best I know how here.  People’s lives depend on it even though I am a JANR!

I’m not here to say one service is better than another.  We all have our duties to perform and our part in this fight.  You can’t forget the people at home either.  My mom is a JAMAG, Just a Military Mom and Grandma, but without her sacrifice we couldn’t fight this war over here. TJ doesn’t want to raise our babies for a year by himself, but he’s an awesome JAMSAD, Just a Military Spouse and Dad.  It is very military to make an acronym out of everything.  We all are embracing who we are and that’s the best part.  I’ll continue to own being a JANR!

That is one good JAMSAD!

So, I miss my job at home.  I miss knowing what I’m doing.  I miss knowing who to talk to when I have a question.  I miss teaching class.  I miss my cross functional team.  Most of all I just miss my friends there!   When I’m there I have nothing to prove, I can just do what I’m good at and I find a lot of job satisfaction.  They know I’m not a JANR!

Work class
Miss these awesome athletes!  I can’t wait to get back and teach again, until then keep on staying strong!

This video makes me so happy.  Ending the workout with a 3 minute wall sit….that’s how you do it when I’m teaching.  I really am so touched and inspired by all of you.  Two years ago we started this small group and it’s grown and changed, but one thing has stayed the same.  The athletes who show up each week inspire me to be better and stay strong.  I want to quote a note I received from Christina Moritz who is helping keep this group going.  “I talk about you every class where I’ll say in honor of Darchelle or right when we are in the thick of it and I can see the class starting to get tired or near failure I say, “Darchelle isn’t giving up, neither are we!”  I realize that can be quite different but what I love seeing is them dig a little deeper and push through just as I’d imagine you have to (but of course on a far different level). So… keep going lady!”  It’s notes like that and videos of wall sits that help me get through and give me something awesome to come home to.  Know all of you are JUST something and I can’t wait to be back with JUST all of you, because you are all JUST AWESOME!!!  Ok, I need to stop I’m getting emotional.

Real = Nothing is Real

As you all know, my 9MM and I are not good friends. I attribute this to two things. One, I just don’t like being in a place where the Force Protection measures require me to carry a loaded weapon.  The second reason is the holster I have wraps around my waist and then around my leg. This of course is what the Navy issued me. The Navy also issued me so much gear, of which the majority I will never use. However they issued me a go to war holster that is awful. I wish they kept the extreme cold weather gear in exchange for a comfortable holster.

The cumbersome holster from the Navy.

Since I can’t change where I am and the requirement to wear my weapon, I needed to figure out how to get a more comfortable holster. Well, this proved to be a monumental task here on this small base in Afghanistan. First of all I am left-handed and I shoot left handed. From what I am learning this is the wrong hand in so many ways. I did mention earlier being reprimanded in Qatar for using my left hand and I am continuing to be at a disadvantage.  The left hand seems to be the wrong hand everywhere in this part of the World. For over two weeks we went to our small bizarre on base in search of a left handed hip holster. Every day we would walk over and talk to the local Afghans and every day they would say, “No, no left handed holster today. Return tomorrow I will have. I just have to get from my friend.” While waiting for someone’s friend to find a black market holster I started checking on Amazon. Amazon ships everything to Afghanistan, well except left handed holsters. I was getting desperate. The Lieutenant Colonel who I work for and I walked, as we did everyday, over to the bizarre. As usual someone’s cousin could not find my holster, but there was another promise of something in a few days.  The Lieutenant Colonel states and when we come back it needs to be a medium fake holster, not a super fake holster.  The owner of the stand says, “I never tell you anything in here is real.  Everything I sell fake.  Some fake better than other fake.”

The truth is that young Afghan selling us fake Under Armor, Nike, and Black Hawk (the holster brand) is correct.  All of us here are just faking it, and I don’t mean fake like we are not acting authentic.  I mean fake as in we get up everyday and we say we’re good.  We say we’re happy.  We even say we don’t worry about home.  The truth is that is not true, it’s just fake.  It’s better fake, and its necessary fake, but it’s still fake.  There is not one of us, if given the choice to go see our families wouldn’t jump on the first helicopter out of here.  Now some certainly would say they would never leave, but they’re just using better fake.  The real them would rather be home.  I’m fake here for sure, but not inauthentic.  I am still true to myself, but I’m jaded and will stay that way until I can be home with my family.   I’m jaded to what is really going on outside these walls and I’m happy to do my job.  People die everyday for no reason, just because of where they were born and that just sucks.  I can only hope that I can do something, even if it’s small to help one less innocent Afghan die and maybe someday they can walk down their streets free just like we do in the United States everyday.

I’m sure you’re still curious on how my holster drama ends.  As we’re leaving the shop discouraged for the sixth time the Lieutenant Colonel realizes we could just buy the belt piece for the hip and remove my connector piece and problem solved.  So after weeks of turmoil we found something that works for only $5.  I will have to reassemble what the Navy gave me when I return, but I’ll take care of that in a year.

The new “homemade” left handed hip holster!

After almost 2 months of wearing my 9mm, I am ready to give it a name.  I decided on Pat.  Pat is a name that represents neutral.  It’s neither male nor female, good nor bad, happy nor sad, it just is.  That is how I feel about Pat, it just is.  I take Pat everywhere I go and if needed Pat will be there and I will appreciate my side kick Pat.

As for everyone at home, Timyra had a much better week.  Taylyn was excited to go to school.  Buddy enjoyed camp and despite a morning of sadness he’s happy.  Last weekend they went camping with my mom’s family and enjoyed camping just like I did with my parents as a child.  All my aunts, uncles, and cousins were there to give them hugs and make amazing memories with them.  Thank you everyone for giving them extra hugs for me!

Video chatting with my brave girl!
Camping using the same wagon we used as kids!

Fair Does Not Mean Equal

Yesterday I wrote most of my post for this week, but after talking to Timyra last night I changed my mind. Timyra has been really strong, at least on the outside. The only time she’s shown any distress was on the way to the airport when they dropped me off on June 4th.  She cried all the way there and all the way back. Since then she’s been nothing but helpful. She is sleeping with Taylyn and making sure everyone else is ok.

Timyra 4 years ago! Future Naval Officer!

I call most days, and on the call I found out the evening before Timyra was acting out and would not go to bed. When I had the chance to talk to her she took the phone and hid underneath a chair to talk to me.  She never takes the phone to talk in private.  I asked her about the night before and she said, “Mom it’s just not fair that her mommy has to leave and her friend’s mommys don’t have to leave.” I was heart-broken. I really wanted to reach through the phone and give her a hug, and of course I couldn’t.
I held back the tears the best I could and told her to ask her Grandfather about what fair means. I remember when I was a teenager I was whining about something my sister received that I didn’t and stating that wasn’t fair. My dad promptly stated fair does not mean equal. Fair is getting what you need when you need it, not having the same as the person next to you. Yet, Timyra is correct too, it’s not fair. I want to be home and it sucks. Although right now I need to be in Afghanistan and my babies are safe, healthy, and happy. Our family is not equal to her friend’s family, but it’s still fair. We all have everything we need and I’m needed here and we still have each other!

Timyra Turns 7.jpg
She’s right, it’s not fair I missed her 7th birthday!

It is sad but my babies are learning to stick together and take care of each other.  Plus this is a special year with their grandparents!

On another  note, a quick update on the recycling effort. I am filling a box at my desk and I am spreading awareness. All day there are people stopping by to put their caps in box so I can take them to support the wheelchair funds. It’s small, but it’s something.

Recycling Club

I would not consider myself a “tree hugger” by any stretch of the imagination.  However I will do my small part to keep the planet clean.  When I was 7 or 8 I really took Earth Day seriously.  I read books on the health of planet Earth and was extremely interested in keeping Her clean.  The urge I felt to recycle and keep the Earth clean probably came from a fear of death.  I wanted to make sure Planet Earth would be around so we all had some place to live.  As a matter of fact, when I was in first or second grade I started a Recycling Club with Laura Lindstrom.  This was before there was road side pickup of recycling.  We made flyers and passed them out in our neighborhoods.  Once a week we walked around with our wagon and pick up people’s recycling and then took it to the recycling center.

As a matter of fact my mother reminded me of this recycling club when I was 27 and living in my apartment in Everett, WA.  There were two sides to the apartment complex and the recycling was on the other side.  To recycle we had to drive our recycling to the other side of the complex.  At first I would mix my trash, but after a reminder from my mom I started separating the trash again and I probably just had TJ drive the recycling to the other side.  Either way the Earth loving 8-year-old came out in me again.

The apartment in WA!

Since being in the Middle East the 8-year-old Earth loving girl is crying every day.    The water is not safe for human consumption so we are required to get all our water out of half liter plastic bottles.  I can drink half of a liter in about thirty seconds.  I alone easily drink at least ten a day.  As you probably guessed there are no recycling bins.  I feel terrible every time I throw one of these bottles away.  I certainly don’t feel bad enough to get dysentery to keep my 8 year old self from feeling bad, but I do wish there was some way to recycle all these bottles and cans.  There is a small consolation for the waist.  In the gym there is a box that collects the bottle caps for an Afghanistan Wheel Chair fund.  I even put a box in my office to collect more throughout the day.  A little less of my tree hugging self-dies each time I drink water knowing at least I’m helping someone in need gets a wheel chair.

I started to reflect on what I was worried about as a child.  I was scared the world would end if we didn’t recycle.  I think it would be safe to bet no child in Afghanistan is staying up at night worrying about the aluminum can they threw away and the consequence that may have on their planet.   There are people every day here who make themselves into an improvised explosive device and blow up their neighbors and friends.  What I really wish is these kids had a chance to worry about recycling an aluminum can instead of aluminum shrapnel.

afghan kids

As upsetting as it is to see this waste I’m going to choose drinking the bottled water over the alternative.  However when recycling someday comes to Afghanistan (or the entire middle east, I saw the same in Qatar), I want to be part of the company to profit.

For an update from home.  For the most part everyone is doing well.  Poor Taylyn had a really tough first 6 weeks.  She was really angry and confused.  It started with me leaving and then 2 weeks later TJ took Timyra and Timothy to Seattle for 2 weeks.  Taylyn stayed with my mom.  She was even more angry and confused.  She spent those 2 weeks attached, literally, to Grandma.  Grandma could do nothing without Taylyn, and I mean nothing!  Well Timyra and Timothy have been back for a few days and she is a new baby.  Although they are all sticking together and all sleep in the same room.  The girls are even in the same bed.  I miss these cuties!

kids sleeping
Miss these cuties!  They are so brave sticking together!


Real = Reality

I’ve been in Afghanistan since July 3rd and at my actual duty station, Kabul, since July 4th.  I’m starting to settle in and so far so good.  The days are long, yet they go by quickly.  There is a kind of groundhogs day about being here which really just helps the time go by.  You know what to expect and you just go through the motions.  We usually start the day around 0830 which gives me plenty of time to work out in the morning.  We then work until about 2030 (8:30pm).  We are there for 12 hours, but those 12 hours include about a 2 hour break mid-afternoon as well as time to eat lunch and dinner.  I have nothing else to do so I’ve been working out twice which will come in handy once I start my full on Ironman training.  The altitude is bothering me and I have a hard time falling asleep at night.  Not only is there altitude to deal with, but it is extremely dry.  I’ve gotten a bloody nose every day since I’ve been here.  One time I was in the shower and that looked like a murder scene.  I will have to get a humidifier to make it through the winter.  At least here the temperature is cooler and I can walk outside without melting!

I have been in the military in some capacity since 2001.  In those 16 years I most certainly lived a sheltered existence to the reality of war.  There are people who are simply evil that wish to do evil on as many people as they can.  I am so saddened by these senseless acts of terror.  I know and I have facts that I am safer here on a base in Afghanistan than I am on my 74 mile commute each day to the office.  To be sure I looked up the statistics and there is a 1 in 17,725 chance one of us will die as the result of a car crash, or to be funny a 1 in 366,804 chance one of us dies falling out of bed, while there is only a 1 in 2.1 million chance something will happen to be here.  The odds are low, extremely low.  The problem is that every time I get into my car to drive to work or every morning when I get out of bed I’m not thinking about death.  Here in Afghanistan my senses are heightened.  I carry a loaded 9mm hand gun with me everywhere I go. (9mm and I are still not friends.  I need to get a more comfortable holster and then maybe I will become friendly enough with it to give it a name.)  Your senses are not heighten to death and I am thankful for you they are not.  I’m glad when you and I drive to work we don’t think about what could happen.  We believe we’re safe and living in that shelter keeps us all from going crazy.  For a few seconds you all thought about it and when you’re done reading this you will forget again.  Please don’t however forget that I can’t forget, at least not for the next year.

The days go by quickly and for the most part are predictable.  As I mentioned in a previous post you must have something to look forward to and then everything seems easier.  A couple of days a week we work a shortened schedule and don’t go in until noon.  Yesterday I took full advantage and slept in until 0800, ran 11 miles (on the treadmill, the air quality is too poor to run outside), had an awesome lunch (we even had roasted brussel sprouts and watermelon).  Days like that keep me going.  I’ve even starting planning our family vacation for when I come back for rest and recuperation at the end of March.

Please know I’m busy, safe, and distracted!  I am distracted enough to keep my head up and this reality is working, at least for now!




I wrote this workout for a friend of mine in Djibouti.  I thought since I had the workout I would share with all of you.  I even made videos for each week to demonstrate the moves.  Ignore the guys playing basketball and my profuse sweating.  Apparently in Qatar the air-conditioned buildings are still hot enough to make me sweat demonstrating moves.  I hope the camera angles are ok.  I wasn’t working in the best of conditions and you are getting the first take!  

The workout is 4 weeks long and there are 4 workouts for each week.  The workouts are about 40 minutes long.  I did a sample of the different workouts I used for my classes.  There is a modified 10 x 10 and different versions of Tabata and HIIT.  Let me know what you think and maybe I can do this again!

I recommend starting each workout with a 10 minute warm up of jogging or biking.  End each workout with a 10 minute cold down and some stretching.

Week 1

Do each exercise for 1 minute, rest :30, repeat entire set 6 times.

Workout 1

  • Box Squats (10 – 20 lbs dumbbells each hand)
  • Side Plank with hip dip (3 rounds on one side 3 rounds on the other)
  • Wall Sit Bicep Curl (5 – 15 lbs dumbbells each hand)
  • Mountain Climbers

Workout 2

  • Push Up Stars (push up, rotate to a side plank, push up, rotate to the other side plank)
  • Rear Lunge with a Knee (10 – 20 lbs dumbbells each hand)
  • Burpees
  • Walk Down Back Bow

Workout 3

  • Single Leg Dead Lift (10 – 20 lbs dumbbells each hand) (3 rounds on each side)
  • Walk Down Push Ups
  • Skaters
  • Reverse Mountain Climbers

Workout 4

  • Double Burpees
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Plank Walk Push Ups
  • Curtsey Lunge (10 – 20 lbs dumbbells each hand)

Week 2

Do each exercise for :30, rest :15, repeat that same exercise 8 times then move onto the next exercise.

Workout 1

  • Burpee with a squat jack
  • Plank right knee to right elbow and then left knee to left elbow
  • Tricep Dips
  • Jumping Jacks

Workout 2

  • Burpee with reverse lunge
  • Up and down plank (right hand on the floor than elbow back up repeat on left) – I forgot this one on the video 
  • Overhead press (5 – 15 lbs weights each hand)
  • Mountain Climbers

Workout 3

  • Burpee with a jumping jack
  • Twisting Plank
  • Bent over fly (5 – 15 lbs weights each hand)
  • Reverse Mountain Climbers

Workout 4

  • Burpee
  • Plank Jacks
  • Chest Press legs in table top (10 – 20 lbs weights each hand)
  • Leg Lifts

Week 3

Do each exercise for 15 repetitions, rest :30, repeat the entire group 6 times

Workout 1

  • Left Reverse Lung to Knee LIft (10 – 20 lbs dumbbells each hand)
  • Right Revere Lung to Knee LIft (10 – 20 lbs dumbbells each hand)
  • Upright Row (10 – 20 lbs dumbbells each hand)
  • Weighted Crunch (a 10 – 20 lbs dumbbell)

Workout 2

  • Left Curtsey Lung to Side Leg Raise (10 – 20 lbs dumbbells each hand)
  • Right Curtsey Lunge to Side Leg Raise (10 – 20 lbs dumbbells each hand)
  • Single Leg Tricep Extension (a 10 – 20 lbs dumbbell)
  • Back Bow

Workout 3

  • Left Single Leg Squat (5 – 15 lbs dumbbells each hand)
  • Right Single Leg Squat (5 – 15 lbs dumbbells each hand)
  • Fly with table top legs (10 – 15 lbs dumbbells each hand)
  • Plank lift right hand and left foot then left hand and right foot

Workout 4

  • Left Forward Lunge to Knee LIft  (10 – 20 lbs dumbbells each hand)
  • Right Forward Lunge to a Knee Lift (10 – 20 lbs dumbbells each hand)
  • Push Ups
  • Bridges

Week 4

Start each round with the exercise listed without a number, then do the 1st exercise, then do the exercise listed, then do the 1st and 2nd exercise.  Repeat until you’ve done all the exercises.  Example 10 burpees, 30 Full Sit Ups, 10 burpees, 30 Full Sit Ups, 30 leg lifts, etc.

Workout 1

10 Burpees

  1. 30 Full Sit Ups
  2. 30 Leg Lifts
  3. 30 Narrow Squats (can use weight)
  4. 30 Push Ups
  5. 30 Tricep Dips

Workout 2

100 Jumping Jacks

  1. 30 Russian Twists
  2. 30 Bridges
  3. 30 Wide Squats (can use weight)
  4. 30 Lunges Each Side (can use weights)
  5. 30 Walk Down Push Ups (do 2 push ups each time you walk down)

Workout 3

10 Burpees

  1. 30 Frog Crunches
  2. 30 Back Bows
  3. 30 Tippy Toe Squats (can use weight)
  4. 30 Wide Push Ups
  5. 30 Plank Knee Drops

Workout 4

100 Jumping Jacks

  1. 30 Plank lift right leg with left arm and then left leg with right arm
  2. 30 Mountain Climbers
  3. 30 Deep Squats
  4. 30 Jumping Lunges
  5. 30 Side Plank with Dip (30 each side)

A Mini Vacation

On Wednesday June 28th we were scheduled to leave Baltimore on a Rotator at 0030.  A Rotator is a commercial flight only for military personnel and their families.  As most air travel goes, we didn’t end up leaving Baltimore until 0330.  At this point I had already been up for 22 hours.  My friend Mariale who I met at NIACT gave me Emergen-ZZZZZ.  It was amazing.

Melatonin knocked me out!

Once I took the melatonin I didn’t even remember taking off.  I only opened my eyes when the flight attendant woke me for dinner.  At least I think dinner.  Over these last days I’m not sure what meal I’m eating or if I should be sleeping or working out.  After a 7 hour flight we landed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.  At this point all the families left the plane.  The remainder of us on our way to the Middle East deplaned while they fueled the plane and changed out the crew.

While in the Ramstein terminal something interesting happened.  We arrived at 1700 local time.  We were in the terminal for about 2 and half hours.  When I left the plane my Garmin told me I was only at about 900 steps for the day.  I decided to take the time we had to walk around.  Mind you this terminal is only 2 gates and I was weaving through rows of seats like Pac-Man.  As I walked people started to join me.  We continued to walk until we had to re-board.  At one point we had as many at 7 Sailors snaking through the limited space.  I even managed to reach my step goal of 12K.  I had to make the most of my time since a workout was not possible due to travel.  I really was surprised that others joined me and very happy to share my steps with them.  I almost felt like I was teaching again.  This was the closest I’ve come to leading group exercise since I left.

The conga line walking around the 2 gates at Ramstein!  Whatever it takes to get your workout!

We left Ramstein that evening and were off to Kuwait.  I used my melatonin to sleep on that flight as well.  We arrived in Kuwait early morning prior to sun rise.  The temperature was already 102 degrees fahrenheit even without the sun.  There was something unsettling about stepping off the plane in Kuwait.  There is so much history there.  Arriving in Kuwait really made this trip start to feel real.  I had officially arrived in the Middle East in a country the United States had fought a war.

We left Kuwait after only an hour and it was a short flight to Qatar.  Once in Qatar my boots on ground counter started.  I can say as of June 29th my 365 days started.  That feeling is amazing.  By landing in Qatar in June I qualify as tax-free for the month of June.  Shortly after arriving I made my first Middle Eastern country cultural error.  I handed a Qatar native my military ID with my left hand.  I was then told very sternly to use my right hand.  You have to use your right hand for everything and trust me I won’t make that mistake again.  All Middle Eastern countries find the left hand insulting because it is thought of as the hand that wipes your butt.  And to think I’m left-handed.

Suffocating heat of Qatar!  I keep getting lost, everything here looks the same!

I will stay in Qatar until there is a military flight available to finish the trip to Afghanistan.  Fortunately I will be here for about 4 days.  While I’m here I have nothing to do but sleep and workout.  I am calling this my mini vacation.  The heat here is no joke. The days reach close to 120 degrees and are so dry you feel like your head is in an oven. In the shower today I had the water on cold and it took at least three minutes to get cool enough just to stand under.  There is a pool and I am taking advantage.  Although it’s so hot the water feels like bath water and when I turn my head to breath I choke.

Didn’t cool me off as expected, but it felt great to get back in the pool!

Soon I will be at my final destination, until then I’m going to pretend I’m on vacation.