When Did This Happen?

Leadership and followership are words that have been a large part of my life since February 2014. When I attended my first Civil Air Patrol meeting in January of that year, I was absolutely terrified. Petrified, even. The only thing I knew was what my friend who “recruited” me had told me the alternate uniform was- a black shirt, jeans, and a belt. A belt? I didn’t have a belt. I borrowed a belt from my neighbor for that night. I had to fill out a form about why I was interested in CAP, and how I found out about it. I answered “I’ve always been interested in airplanes, and am planning to go into aerospace engineering. I think this would be a great opportunity to meet new people and learn new things that could potentially benefit me in that field as well as in life”. I went into the day nervous, but excited. That night, my mom drove me to the base where the meeting was. Building 113. We have to find building 113. We found it, and went inside. We were a few minutes late, but that was no issue at all.

I walked inside and was ushered into a small room to the left by a guy in a blue uniform. He looked incredibly intimidating, and I was so nervous still. My mom and I were forced to sit up front, since everyone else filled in from the back. A Power Point was shown about the Civil Air Patrol. I was nervous- but excited. I wanted to learn how to fly. I wanted to travel the world with that one program no one remembered the acronym for. I wanted to be like the girl standing against the wall, the one that was clearly in charge. She was blonde, and wearing little circles on her shoulder. I knew that meant she had to be pretty high-up, since everyone else I had seen was wearing something on their collar.

The cadets took my class- a group of myself and six others out of the smaller room into the large room across the hall, where all the other cadets were. In my class, there were four other girls and two guys. One girl was wearing heels and a lot of makeup, and seemed to not want to be there at all. The other people all seemed to know what was going on, either because of prior family being in Civil Air Patrol or military knowledge. One girl stood out to me, because she did incredibly well. The instructors- a female cadet second lieutenant and two male cadet chief master sergeants- lined us up in a line and started explaining drill to us. We started with a right face. Then a left face. And finally, an about face.  I was next to the girl wearing heels and she grabbed me so she didn’t fall over. She mumbled something along the lines of “I hate this”. I wondered to myself why she was there if she hated it so much.

The weeks progressed and the girl with the heels stopped showing up. We did activities like memorizing the cadet oath, and learning the ribbons and insignia. I had a lot of trouble, so I went home and made my own flash cards to study. One girl was doing very well, and I remember wishing I was her. She was athletic and smart- the opposite of how I felt when I was there. I befriended her, and she quickly turned into my first friend in the Civil Air Patrol. At the end of the training period of six weeks, we “graduated” into the Civi Air Patrol. Everyone but me from my class already had their first promotion. I was a cadet airman basic, while they got airman insignia pinned on. I was a little discouraged at first, but quickly saw it as a challenge. The athletic girl and I would race each other to promotions, and eventually were neck in neck.

We both went to encampment holding the rank of cadet airman first class. At encampment, a girl from my squadron who usually taught aerospace lessons was my squadron’s executive officer. She had led the class about model rocketry just weeks before encampment. She was a cadet major, and she was everything I wanted to be. I knew major was a high rank, and she was serious and seemed to know everything. I looked up to her. I also looked up to my flight sergeant. She was a chief, and she was exactly what I wanted to be. Calm, collected, and smart.

When I came back from encampment, I had made many new friends. I’d race them instead of the athletic girl- who seemed to have a different attitude after encampment. She ended up leaving the Civil Air Patrol not long after. I met Kat at that encampment, and we’re still incredibly close today.

I held various positions at my home squadron- things like element leader and flight sergeant; even public affairs NCO. There was always someone I looked up to; someone I wanted to be like. Time progressed, and I attended two more encampments. I attended three national activities (okay, it was the same one that I attended thrice). I moved up on my squadron’s staff- even holding the position of cadet commander briefly before moving to Europe in 2016. I was active in the state- starting out on the cadet advisory council as a representative, then eventually being voted Vice-Chair. I represented the entire Wing to the Great Lakes Region on the Cadet Advisory Council.

This year, I am the Chairman of the Cadet Advisory Council. I am the Cadet Deputy Commander for Operations at Encampment. It’s my second run as Cadet Commander of my squadron. Somehow, I became the person I used to look up to. When did that happen? I don’t remember a big change. I don’t remember waking up one day saying “okay, people are going to look up to me now”. But yet- they do. There is at least one cadet that I know of for sure that looks up to me, and I find that the weirdest concept.

I’m that major that knows what she’s doing to some people, and I find that amazing. I have the opportunity to be an influence to people’s lives. I have the opportunity to be the reason they keep learning. That’s such a great responsibility, and I won’t let people down.

I no longer want to be an aerospace engineer like I originally thought when I signed up for this wild ride called Civil Air Patrol. But through Civil Air Patrol, my love for all things cyber flourished. Participating in CyberPatriot showed me what I want to do. Through CyberPatriot, that guy that was so intimidating that first night quickly became a friend and mentor- someone I’d often end up going to for advice.

Coming up on 4 years in the Civil Air Patrol this February, looking back at everything I’ve done is almost unbelievable. Quiet, shy, young cadet me always dreamed of attaining the Spaatz award one day. On average, only five cadets in one thousand earn the Spaatz Award. Since the award’s inception in 1964, Civil Air Patrol has presented the Spaatz Award to only 2103 cadets nation-wide (as of today).

Now, that seems attainable.

If I attend a region cadet leadership school or go to cadet officer school, I can get my Eaker- that’s cadet lieutenant colonel. I’m planning to go to Michigan’s RCLS this summer after encampment. After that, I can test for Spaatz. It’s never felt closer. It’s never felt more attainable. I know it won’t be easy, but it’s finally hit me that this goal might actually be something I can do. That with everything I’ve learned, I am good enough. I have accomplished a lot. Am I still learning? Absolutely.

I’d always struggled with self-confidence, something that time and time again was mentioned to me at form 50 interviews and things like that. I think I finally get it. I think I’m finally confident in myself, confident in what I’ve learned, and confident in what I can do.

So here’s to Civil Air Patrol, and the 2 and a half years I have left as a cadet!

You Get There By Realizing You Are Already There

Where am I getting, now? What’s with the weird inspirational quote for a title? All I’m really here for is to read your goals, weird blogging lady.

2017. MMXVII. Twothousandseventeen. 2k17. There were indeed plenty of ways to refer to the year of the rooster. It’s been a long 365 days, and it’s been a long year of goals. The year honestly seemed to fly by. Moving back to America, visiting the Netherlands twice, finishing my first semester of college, advancing my CAP career, developing my hobby of photography, living on my own, and figuring out who I am are all things of 2017 that made this year unique.

In January, I set ten goals for myself to accomplish in the 365 days of 2017. I suppose it’s time to reflect and elaborate on 2017.

My Goals for 2017 Were…

  1. Love myself and be happy. Do things because they’ll make me happy. I think I came a long way on this goal. I’m still not the most in shape, or the skinniest girl, or whatnot. But you know what? I don’t really care. I’m going to work harder in order to do things for myself, to prepare for encampment and possibly even my Spaatz exam one day. But as a whole, I don’t feel guilty for eating anymore. I don’t feel like I have to exercise until I’m dead or else I’m a terrible person. I bought clothes that make me feel pretty and are comfortable. I accepted clothes that didn’t fit anymore. I’m doing good. I’m happy.
  2. Go to college and study where and what I want. Kent State University has been an amazing fit for me so far. The Digital Sciences major is fantastic, allowing me to study towards a Bachelor of Science and do what I love. I’ve learned so much and met some really cool people. 
  3. Achieve at least C/Lt Col in the Civil Air Patrol. Well, this one is impossible this year. I did not have time or money to attend Cadet Officer School or a Region Cadet Leadership School. However, I am not in the least discouraged. I may not be on a “perfect” promotion schedule anymore, but I’m exactly where I need to be. Having been the Cadet Commander of the Maryland Cyber Defense Training Academy in its inaugural year, being a crucial part of planning the Great Lakes Region Conference, overcoming difficulties at the squadron level, and now accepting the position of Deputy Commander for Operations at the 2018 Ohio Wing Encampment have given me the experience, training, and valuable lessons that I am so incredibly grateful for. I will be a Cadet Major until I attend an RCLS, which I will likely be doing in July. Spaatz is attainable in 2018. Spaatz will happen in 2018.
  4. Learn to stay calm and manage emotions, as well as being able to express these to others. (This one may not make sense to you as the reader, but it does to me. I’ve already started working on it!) I still lose my cool sometimes. I still argue unnecessarily sometimes. But, I’m doing okay. I’m doing well, actually. I greatly underestimated how much stress college would put on me, however, I kicked ass. I got through it. I did it.
  5. Learn something new. Whether this is learning a new language, something about computers, anything. I learned a lot this year. I learned about myself, mostly. However, I also learned how to become comfortable with JavaScript. I learned how to use various Adobe softwares. In May, I learned a bit of Russian and a significant amount about cryptography. I learned more about my leadership style. I learned how to read regulations, and I learned to be able to use them efficiently. I became comfortable writing memorandums and official correspondence. I learned some job-specific things, such as using Team Dynamix. I’ve learned a lot and it’s been a great year.
  6. Make money. Save money. (Already working on the saving money! #AdventureFund) I got a job, so there’s that. I love my job, and I love making my own money. I transfer $20 a month to my savings account, and it’s a smart thing to do, I think. So while it is not a whole lot, it’s my money and it feels great. I took some money out of the Adventure Fund to pay for some miscellaneous small stuff, but that’s okay.
  7. Stay hydrated. All year. I think there’s a water bottle around here somewhere… But really. I’ve done terrible and great with this one- depending on the month. 
  8. Read my whole James Patterson series. I got stuck halfway through book 13 in August, and I never picked them back up. I brought book 13 with me to the Netherlands… maybe I can make some more progress before the new year. It won’t be the whole series, but it’ll be okay. I read more than usual. During the last two months of school I also really got into Ernest Hemingway, voluntarily reading “Farewell to Arms” and “Hemingway on War”. For class I read “The Sun Also Rises”, and reread “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was a decent reading year. 
  9. Travel. Throughout the year, I went to the Netherlands twice. I went to Germany. I went to CDTA in Maryland, and visited Dayton a significant amount of times. I went to Erie, PA twice to visit the Lake Shore Railway Museum. I flew through Reykjavik, Iceland flying to the Netherlands (even though we spent all of 15 minutes in the airport because the flight was boarding as we landed). Traveling has been fantastic, and I can’t wait to plan something big next year… I still can’t wait to go see New York City again. 
  10. Write more. (Whether this is blogging, letters, cards, journaling, it’s going to happen!) I mean. Sure. I did blog more; I blogged at least twice every month. I wrote more physically, and I took a lot of notes in my classes. I need to write a few postcards still, but I’ll get caught up soon. 

It’s been such a great year. Family and friends were a big part of it – as was college. Joining Kent’s Chi Alpha (the Campus Ministry/Christian Fellowship), breaking out of my shell and hanging out with people (I went to a party too??), making new friends, attending a Green Day concert, volunteering with FIRST robotics, progressing as a photographer, and Civil Air Patrol activities have been huge highlights.

IMG_0137Getting to drive my car again when I came back to the USA, getting to take trips to Conneaut to see the beach and enjoy the water, watching the United States Air Force Thunderbirds fly, meeting the crew and pilots of the Thunderbirds, planning a conference for over five months (and learning some interesting leadership lessons along the way), organizing Great Lakes Region’s first ever Region Color Guard at the Region Conference, and serving as Cadet Commander at the first ever Maryland Campus of the Cyber Defense Training Academy.

Being voted as Chairman of the Ohio Wing Cadet Advisory Council, taking part in the Wing Commander’s promotion and Change of Command ceremonies, becoming my squadron’s first ever cadet rated to be a Mission Scanner and aircrew member, wearing a skirt, running a 5k, painting a rock, going black Friday shopping for the first time, getting the cutest little bunny rabbit, and even getting groceries on my own.

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2017 has been a year of surprises, of love, and of losses. A lot was accomplished. I made a bunch of friends. People passed away too soon. Megan Grimsic, you were one of the funniest people I knew. You were so absolutely talented, and one of the smartest people around. I met you at TCTC – we had Chemistry together. That class quickly became my favorite that year. I know we may not have been very close after you graduated, but thank you. Thank you for always making me smile and always being there for me, and everyone, no matter what. You were one of the coolest lab partners, ever. We’d try to match our lab goggles, and make jokes about the pennies we’d “boil”. You always pushed me to follow my dreams, and your photography always inspired me. I can’t believe you left the world this soon, you are loved by so many. Your funeral was beautiful, and I’m so glad I attended. Finally meeting your father was wonderful – you were right. He is pretty cool. I met your boyfriend, too. When I told him about you, he hugged me and quietly cried. You’ll always be loved by everyone, I promise you. We won’t forget you.

Sixty-seven blog posts to date, a custom domain name, and eleven categories –  this blog has come a long way since April 2016. I’ve done a countdown to my birthday, I’ve done these goals, and so often I will blog about random things. So what will my theme for 2018 be? After much consideration and debating, I have decided I will do a writing prompt every month.

The Writing Prompts will be as follows:

  • January: Think back to a moment where you’ve come to the end of the road with something important in your life—a relationship with a lover; moving out of your childhood home; graduation from school; etc. Write a scene wrapped around that moment, describing how you felt (good and bad) and how you closed the door on that chapter in your life.
  • February: You’ve been going to the same bar every night for the past five years. In fact, you’re such a regular that when you enter the, the other patrons yell your name and the bartender already has your drink waiting for you. But then one Friday you arrive and no one seems to recognize you, not even the bartender. What’s going on?
  • March: Envision a dragon. Do you battle him? Or is the dragon friendly?
  • April: Write a short story that takes place in a world where there are no insects left. Aside from no longer needing to clean bugs off of car windshields, what are the repercussions given the integral role that insects play in the ecosystem? Does your story include a movement to bring insects back?
  • May: Write about not being able to see ahead of you.
  • June: If you had to escort a visitor from outer space for a 30-minute tour of your community, where would you begin and end?
  • July: What makes you proud to be an American?
  • August: Imagine yourself as a teacher.  What type of student would you like to teach and why?
  • September: Imagine that you are an animal in the zoo.  What type of animal are you?  How do you feel about being caged?  How do you feel about people that visit and watch you?
  • October: You find a genie that gives you infinite wishes with only one catch: before it grant any wish, firstly you’ll need to fulfill one of its wishes.
  • November: You lost the ability to hear at a young age. One day, you’re with your friend and you suddenly hear a noise.
  • December: Write a short story inspired by one of your favorite sentences from the year, perhaps read or heard in an essay, speech, social media post, poem, song, or work of fiction. You might decide to use it as the first or last line of the story, or allow your plotline or characterization to be more conceptually informed by your inferences of the sentence’s implications or mood.

I’m super excited about these writing prompts, and what they’ll add to my blog. I can’t wait to work on my fictional writing again, and I know they’ll help me be more creative. I have created a category called “Writing Prompts, 2018” for all these prompts, and in case anyone wants one place to view all of them. I have also created a category for my 2017 Goals, called “The Year of the Goals”.

I hope everyone has a fantastic rest of 2017 and a great start to 2018!!! I can’t wait to blog again for all of my readers super soon.

Thanks for a fantastic year of She Became a Lion!

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.

~E. ♥

The Bells Were Ringing Out…

For Christmas Day! It’s the last month of the year, so naturally my blogging wouldn’t happen as scheduled. So far, December has been fantastic. 

T’was the nizzle before Christmizzle and all through the hizzle… Oh wait. I should probably elaborate on the month itself. Last monthly goal reflections is a go! Let’s see… what were my goals?

  1. Keep an eye on my finances and be smart about it. I mean. Sure. Yes. It went… better.
  2. Finish my online course early (because the weekends are great when there’s nothing to do) I mean, the semester ended so there’s that
  3. Further my Civil Air Patrol education. Recently, I attended a Mission Scanner course and will be getting my aircrew wings upon completing two sorties. I’ve also completed more of the FEMA training, and I just. I want to learn everything I can. SUPER COOL NEWS COMING IN THIS POST OMG
  4. Be more organized. This continues off of finding a routine. Jetlag is a… bad thing. Organized? Yeah. I did that. But routines? Meh.
  5. Apply for scholarships. Tuition is a little important. Tuition is indeed important.
  6. Keep a close eye on what I eat and when I eat. I can eat without getting sick again! And screw feeling bad about eating. I have been healthier, though. So it’s lit. 

Since November, plenty of things have happened. My first semester of college came to a close, I stepped out of my comfort zone with CAP (and it paid off), and life is great. 

I finished my first semester strong and confident. I got all As with the exception of a B+ in English, setting my first semester GPA at a 3.823, something I’m incredibly proud of. My classes were pretty challenging. My Story on the Web, the class where I had to create a website and tell a story online, taught me an incredible amount about various Adobe softwares. I had a super fun time creating my Audio Story and Video Story, all about the Civil Air Patrol. The lab was an open lab style instruction, meaning it was completely optional to come to class (except for the mandatory once per unit). Myself and a guy named Max attended almost every class, often being the only ones. I didn’t know his name until about week 13, but him and I would always hate people together so that was pretty cool. I also took a class called “Destination Kent State”, a class targeted at first year students. It was a requirement and very… interesting. English was pretty neat, but wayyy too much writing. My final project was a research paper on Ernest Hemingway and his literature as anti-war. The people in that class were pretty cool; Julia and I talk sometimes. I also took Computer Science, which was… stressful. I scored fantastically on the second midterm though, and after much panic ended the year with an A anyway. The last in-person class I took this semester was Society, Culture, and the Digital Sciences. At first, it started out a little rough. I couldn’t grasp how the professor would teach, and missed a lot of points on the first few assignments. 

HOLD UP IT’S TWO MINUTES UNTIL CHRISTMAS OKAY WOW (we’re watching The Santa Clause 2 and bun is asleep) (surprise I’m in the Netherlands for Christmas) 

OKAY WOW IT’S CHRISTMAS HI 🎄❄️❄️❄️❄️ MERRY CHRISTMAS ❄️❄️❄️❄️🎄

Alrighty so, SCDSCI, as we abbreviated it. I ended with a 102% A. The professor was pretty awesome. I also took an online class, called “Media, Power, and Culture”. It was interesting. Somehow I pulled off an A in that too. Overall, I think it went great. I had a fantastic first semester, and my scholarships and grants covered everything. I took 17 credit hours last semester, and I already registered for Spring 2018. 18 credit hours, here I come! It’ll be good. 

Last year’s Christmas Post talked all about my visit to the States, as I was living in the Netherlands. This year, I’m spending Christmas in the Netherlands with Andrew and my family, and it’s pretty cool. 

ALSO OKAY GUESS WHAT okay. I mentioned cool Civil Air Patrol news. I applied for 2018 Ohio Wing Encampment Cadet Deputy Commander for Operations… AND I GOT THE POSITION. Applying was incredibly out of my comfort zone and writing the letter of intent was pretty stressful, but in the end, it really did pay off. Andrew applied for Cadet Deputy Commander for Support, and he got that position. Encampment is going to be pretty awesome. I’m super stoked. The Cadet Commander seems pretty cool too, and I truly think this encampment is going to be fantastic.

How is it almost one a.m. help

Okay, I’m being sent to bed so “Santa” can go put gifts under the tree ( @ mom). I’ll be posting at least once more this year to reflect on my goals for 2017 and announce my theme for 2018. I can’t believe it’s already the last month of the year. It’s been a great 12 months of goals with y’all. So on that note…

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! 

~E.🎄

My Story on the Web: Audio Story

Hey y’all! So, as you all know by now, I’m in college! (whoa? what? really?)

For one of my classes, “My Story on the Web” we had to use Adobe Audition to create an audio story… and I’m super proud of the end result. while you can view all my work for that class on “She Became a Mountain Lion” (yes, that’s an iOS pun), I’m posting what I submitted for my audio story here, too. Enjoy!

Civil Air Patrol… The official United States Air Force Auxiliary. I started out working on this project by brainstorming words that describe the Civil Air Patrol and asking others what words came to mind about Civil Air Patrol. Together, we put together a long list of near fifty words to include “honor”, “patriotism”, “leadership”, and many more. At my Squadron’s CyberPatriot competition, the Air Force Association’s Cyber Defense Competition, I asked our members to say these words and I used my iPhone to record them. The result was an approximately seven second long audio clip from nine different CAP members of their words. I compiled these into Adobe Audition, and split every word apart to the smallest audio clip it could be with the razor tool, to avoid any flow interruptions. The hardest process for me was ordering the words into a sequence that not only sounded and flowed well, but made it sound like a continuous string of people saying words- not one person saying all of their words, and so on. To begin, I gave every person their own track in the mixdown. I then spread out the words so that it looked almost like a staircase, one person saying their word, then tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9… then back to track one for the next cycle. When this was finished and I was happy, I added my music. Keeping in mind the Creative Commons and Copyright laws, I found multiple songs I thought would work under my story collage. Eventually, I settled on an excerpt from “The Sands of Windhoek” by Art of Escapism. Finding where in the song I wanted to begin was also hard, because I did not start playing the music from the beginning. Once settled on this, I added a track 10 and made this the music track. This was then my draft audio story. I knew I still had to do something. All those words may not mean a lot to someone, and it was hard to stay attentive even for me, the creator of the story.
Time came for peer critiques, and something I hadn’t thought of myself was said by one of my peers. “I liked the variety of people you used and all the different roles they play. It really shows how vast the field of work is”. I really liked this viewpoint because, as a CAP member, you realize all the things that happen. It took a non-CAP member to point out to me that CAP indeed has such a vast span of programs and training opportunities, and this was my goal with this audio story. To show what the Civil Air Patrol is.

I added a small narration on my part, importing my draft as an MP3 file and working over that. I said short statements, adding more substance to the words to explain my direction. I introduced Civil Air Patrol as the US Air Force Auxiliary, stated that we have three missions, asked what it means to you, and gave a closing that flowed with the outro of the music, fading out. I asked for feedback from my fellow CAP members before settling on a final story.

Once I was happy with the small edits and re-recording myself saying “emergency services” multiple times, I was actually very happy with the end result. I hope you enjoy!

We are the members of the Civil Air Patrol.

~E.

“Have you blogged yet this month?”

A question I’ve been asked multiple times. “Why haven’t you blogged?” or “IT’S ALMOST AUGUST”. Well, here we go, July’s post- possibly with minimal effort.

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The last post I made was in June, when I did a May recap… and I promised I’d blog all about Lauren’s trip to the Netherlands. I jokingly said it’d be a week after June 13th, but even that didn’t happen. It’s now a month later… and here are some highlights!

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May 23rd Lauren and I got off the plane (since the last update I gave was us getting on the plane…)

Honestly, I’m going to go into generalizations for now. We slept a lot, and some days we were just lazy. So I’ll talk about the big things.

We went to the market on Saturdays and introduced Lauren to loempias and baopao. I still eat it every Saturday, and I’m about 99% certain she misses the food more than anything. She also tried the Dutch style fries, frikandel, kroket, bitterballen, eirbal, and she really liked the kaassoufle. We took her to the Pancake Ship in Groningen too, and that was an awesome time.

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Lauren modeled for me so I could work on my photography, she went to band practices with me, and also attended my band concert on the island of Schiermonnikoog with my family and I. We walked in the North Sea- until it started raining on us. Even then it was still amazing.

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We hid ducks, went for bike rides, introduced her to my great-grandmother who is 92 years old, and eventually got back onto a plane on June 13th.

 

During all this time, my car once again decided it didn’t want to work; the right rear spring completely breaking in half. Lauren took me down to Columbus to get my uniforms and clothing in preparation for the Cyber Defense Training Academy.

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I saw my bamboo, and got a good night’s sleep in Columbus. In the morning, my boyfriend picked me up and we went to CoSi.

WAIT WAIT WAIT What? Did I just say boyfriend? Yessir, I did. That’s a thing that happened in May, too. (Whoa, he wasn’t even mentioned in the last post? Nope…) His name’s Andrew and he’s pretty cool. He’s a sweetheart.

So, yeah. CoSi was pretty awesome. The planetarium was absolutely my favorite part. *cough* Pluto is a planet *cough*. We saw Kat that day too, because she stopped by to bring me my ABU cover. I missed her so much, oh my goodness.

On June 16-18th, the Thunder over the Valley air show happened. It was my second time helping at the YARS Air Show as a Civil Air Patrol cadet, and it was fantastic.

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I acted as cadet commander: coordinating teams, ensuring everyone is safe and well taken care of, as well as taking photos.

The left photo was taken by me of the Calypso Pass done by the USAF Thunderbirds #5 and #6; Solo and Opposing Solo. On Friday, I had the incredible opportunity to meet the Thunderbirds.

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On the right, USAF Thunderbirds Commander Lt Col Jason Heard (Thunderbird #1) signs a fellow cadet’s pilot logbook.

Thunder Over the Valley was an incredible experience this year, from meeting the Thunderbirds, working directly with USAF Security Forces, and running through a downpour to make sure all cadets were inside, to trying to balance it with Relay for Life of Poland the night before. Yes, I attended Relay for Life and got a solid four hours of sleep. I also absolutely ate three Arby’s roast beef sandwiches. The cravings were real.

I did a photoshoot for a friend, I ate Dunkin, I slept, I went to CAP and CyberPatriot, and that was my week before CDTA. Of course, I have to give Preston Volkswagen a quick shout-out for letting me get Papa John’s Pizza delivered to the dealership as I sat there waiting to hear back about my money pit *ahem* car.

Then… The 2017 Cyber Defense Training Academy, Maryland Campus.

On June 23rd, I finally was able to put a face to the names- and the voices I’d spent countless hours talking to via conference calls. On June 23rd, the best week of my life was about to begin.

In all honesty, I had no idea what to expect. New people. New facility. New location of the CDTA. Everyone was a little unsure- but we all had a common goal: to train an upcoming generation of cyber warriors. We would let nothing get in the way of this goal. We had some mishaps. We had some miscommunication. At the end of the day however, we all came together and laughed. Senior and cadet staff alike.

From June 23rd to July 1st, I had the incredible experience of serving as the Cadet Commander for the Maryland Campus of the Cyber Defense Training Academy, Civil Air Patrol’s #2 most applied to National Cadet Special Activity. At the end of the week, we graduated 51 new Cyberspace Familiarization Course students, and I could not be more proud of them.

I, of course, didn’t do it alone. I had an amazing group of staff; cadet and senior, that supported me every step of the way.

Waking up every morning and seeing the NSA, spending hours among nerds and learning new things, gaining leadership experience, my soap, the Scepter for the Septic, sharks and minnows, ER Flight, spreadsheets, radios, pillows, mopping, beautiful sunsets, Colonel panic, geofilters, cowsay, eating chocolate with the girls on a washing machine, and Cleveland-sized groundhogs were all just a few moments and memories that made the week an amazing one. Here are a few photos!

 

So yeah, CDTA was amazing. Thank you to everyone who made CDTA-MD 2017 an amazing, memorable experience.

After CDTA, I slept. I needed sleep, man. Like. 16 straight hours plus the drive home.

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On July 3rd, I did a photoshoot for a six month birthday. It was a fantastic experience, and I learned so much. Kamry is an absolutely beautiful baby girl, and her family was great to work with.

I designed the basket she’s laying in to the left by myself, and I was so proud of it. The flowers and fabric matched her outfit gorgeously.

I spent the Fourth of July in Conneaut, first with WWII Higgins Boats (I love D-Day Conneaut perhaps a little too much) and then at the beach, swimming and tanning (okay, so I actually took a nap and got a little darker). It was a perfect day. I took a panorama of the beach, and I’ll do the same during D-Day Conneaut this year. I am the Public Affairs Officer in Charge, and I’m so incredibly excited. Kat is Cadet Commander and I can’t wait to see where the activity goes this year. Also, The Fourth of July is my mom’s birthday, so hey hey happy birthday to her!

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July 5th I got on a plane and came back to the Netherlands, where I am now. I’ve done lots of rabbit cuddling, and I even went to Germany with my grandparents on a trip to take photos of FC Groningen’s training camp. I even worked out (and am working out) consistently for the first time in my life. High school track doesn’t count.

It’s been a good month. I’m an SDA and a month away from becoming a Cadet Major in the Civil Air Patrol. I’m a month away from starting college and my major. I’m so excited for all these changes coming up in my life. Leaving my family will suck like heck, but I’m pumped to be the first on my family to go to college, to be the first with a degree.

So hey. Let’s review those goals I set last month. I definitely explored more, and I even had to speak German! I tried new things (like speaking German). Not giving a shit what people think is a work-in-progress, but it’s going better. Photography… yeah, I met that goal. Let’s keep it going! Lastly, be the best person I can be for others. I think I met this goal. I wrote that when I was super tired and in all honesty I’m not sure what I exactly meant with it. How I’m interpreting it now, I met that goal.

New goals? Hmmm.

  1. Blog in a timely manner
  2. Keep working out
  3. Sleep

There we go. Nice and simple. Maybe. Let’s see if I actually blog on August 1st this time. It’d be my first “on-time” post in a month. #Goals.

The rest of July is going to go by so fast, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. But I’m going to have a kick-ass rest of the month, and I hope you do to!

Take every chance, drop every fear.

~E.♥

Captain Phillips references and life

“Look at me, I’m the Captain now!” I show off to all my Civil Air Patrol friends. I send them a meme to go with it…

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Of course I had to post it here, as well. Why not? It’s an accomplishment I can be proud of. It’s something to keep me going. On Wednesday, 5 October 2016, I promoted to the grade of Cadet Captain in the US Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol. The grade of Cadet Captain, or C/Capt, comes with the Amelia Earhart Award. To pass this milestone, you have to take a written test on Aerospace and Leadership, as well as complete Staff Service and pass a PT test. Achieving this milestone places me in the top 5% of cadets statistically speaking, and my award number is 17515, making me the 17,515th cadet to obtain this award since its implementation. So, CAP has managed to give me motivation and happiness once again. I love the Civil Air Patrol so much, and it is such an amazing program for all ages. My squadron made me a poster, too. I framed it yesterday, and now it’s hanging above my bed.

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I love my squadron, and I miss them all the time. They’ve gotten me through so much. Civil Air Patrol has gotten me through so much. So… yeah. I’m alright right now.

Alright guys, fly above and beyond. Stay strong.

-E.

Cyber and San Antonio- The Ramblings

The 2016 Cyber Defense Training Academy was a success. It may not have felt like it to me every day, but it absolutely was.

I can honestly say I didn’t know what I was getting myself into signing up for both the Cyberspace Advanced Course and staff. I thought it’d be simple, the cadets the year before made it look easy… right? Well, easy comes far from describing my week. Stressful, perhaps, but also not really. Let me begin with explaining all these pictures- and the stories along with them.

13569814_1133945366646688_1438685109_oThis picture to the left shows Simba sitting on what was my bed for the duration of the activity. To the right slightly below is a view the other way. Centered below is the female bay area, with my bed being the one with the giant red suitcase in the front. It was quite the comfortable place to sleep my approximate 4 hours a night once we got air conditioning.

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Below this text is a photo of the male barracks. There were more males than females, and this is only half of the beds the males used. There were about 50 beds in the male bay alone, and I know this because I did their bunk assignments. Thanks guys!
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And finally, this last picture is the lovely “tattoo” I got from a fellow staff member. I guess the friendships were near the top of the “best things of the week” list.

 

Now to continue on with my rambling about the Cyber Defense Training Academy…

Every day, including the staff training days, started off with PT. We would run a mile, or do the CPFT (Cadet Physical Fitness Test), or do some other horrific exercise like duck walks to the point where half of the cadets could barely walk the rest of the week. I may or may not have been included in the half that couldn’t walk… Oh well, what matters (to me, anyway) is that I was able to breathe while running the mile down in Texas (whoa) and I took two minutes off my time. I very much can confirm this map is very accurate in its representation of climates. death

We then would go to breakfast- I’d eat almost the same thing every day. Two hard boiled eggs with a pound of salt each (to feed my sodium deficiency!) and french toast. But, my dietary habits are for another time… or not. It isn’t too interesting. Other than the fact that I ate a corn dog and fries for dinner every day this year and last and I really want a corn dog and fries right now. I need to get my mind off of food… So. After that we’d go to the classroom and learn. The Familiarization Course would go to some secure facility I probably couldn’t name even if I remembered it, and we went to the IPSecure Building on base. The chairs were really comfortable, and we learned about Cisco Networking and encryption all week. The first day we actually got to “play” with the switches, which was really fun. It was stressful though, and my quiz scores weren’t up to my standards. The second day when I got my score back, I actually cried because I did so… not okay… according to myself. With lots of comfort from my friends and fellow staff, I made it. I got a 94% on my final, which was still one of the highest final grades.

I learned. Not just about Cisco, or computers, but about myself. On Day 0, the commandant gave a speech. He said something along the lines of “everybody fails, and you learn from your failures”. Not going to lie, I kind of blew that off. Until about day 4, that is. My scores started improving. I connected with my team. I got more sleep. I realized… without completely crashing and failing those first few days, and trying to push myself past exhaustion… I wouldn’t have found where I should’ve been. Because I failed, I learned and grew. For a long time, I’d been afraid of failure. I was always afraid that I’d be letting someone down, that I’d be letting myself down. Yes, striving for excellence is key, but sometimes it’s okay to fall flat on your face. Because that’s when you learn to get back up and brush it off, to keep smiling, and completely dominate in whatever you’re doing.

So, yeah. The 2016 Cyber Defense Training Academy was a success. It may not have felt like it to me every day, but it absolutely was.

-E. 

Cyber and San Antonio (The Way There)

So, the next ten days I will be without my cell phone or any real way to contact anyone at JBSA Lackland in San Antonio, Texas- attending the Cyberspace Advanced Course and acting as staff for the 2016 Cyber Defense Training Academy. This academy is a Civil Air Patrol National Activity, which I attended last year as well.

This year though, Simba came with me. Here are some pictures from the trip there.

It was 100 degrees when we landed here… Way too hot. I miss Ohio already. On top of missing the weather, though, I miss my family and my boyfriend like crazy. I’m sure these ten days will fly by. Right? I don’t know why I’m so stressed. It’s gonna be fantastic.

Well, babe, I know you’ll read this soon, I love you. Same to my family.

I’m going to continue waiting to be picked up in the USO Lounge now.

Be Brave.

-E.

Civil Air Patrol Wing Conference

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This weekend was our Wing (state) Conference for the Civil Air Patrol; the United States Air Force Auxiliary. It was a pretty amazing experience.

I got to share a room with my best friend in CAP whom I only see about twice a year- and it was great. We worked out in the pathetic little gym the place had; a treadmill, elliptical, and about three and a half sets of weights, we stayed up until approximately two a.m. playing the game “Heads Up” on my Kindle, and we ironed our uniforms.

The next morning, we woke up late- we were under the impression that registration started an hour later than it actually did; but we got ready in 27 minutes exactly, and if I do say so myself, we looked pretty great. It was a fun-filled day, from teaching a class on Team Leadership with a friend from my squadron, to meeting Major Blaine Jones (former Thunderbird Opposing Solo pilot) and his wife Lieutenant Colonel Carey Jones, to making music puns with the Wing and Region commanders, to being awarded Wing Cadet Officer of the Year at the banquet- which my family and boyfriend attended with me.

And of course, Simba was along for the ride. It was an awesome experience, and an awesome weekend.

-E.