Monday, March 24, 2014

On Forks In Roads and Six-Pack Abs

When you're a foreign service spouse, you're constantly having to reinvent yourself. Normal people can say "I'm a teacher," or "I'm a pharmacist," or "I'm a lawyer," or whatever it is they are.

Foreign service spouses can go from nothing to something and back again in the blink of a time-to-move-again!

I've been a Russian teacher and an advertising executive and a consular associate and a CLO and a graphic designer and a stay-at-home mom and a human rights reporter and a Leahy vetter and a public diplomacy officer and a freelance writer and a web copy editor and I'm all of these things but none at once, you know?

Of course you know, if you're a foreign service spouse. You've been somebody new at every post, I'm guessing, just like I have.

So my time here is winding down and I've enjoyed my job here, truly I have, but there's the little matter of the Foreign Service hiring list to settle. You see, I passed all of the tests and made it on the hiring list two years back, but I put myself on the waiting list - you can do that, for up to two years, if you're married to an officer who is currently posted overseas.

But I think my job - which is interesting! and I'm good at it! - is just not quite the definition of me. I can be a foreign service officer if I need to be. But it isn't Who I Am.

Who am I, then? Well: a wife and a mother, a cook, a person who exercises, a reader, a writer.

My recent challenge, the one I face every time I stare down an international move, is: how do I combine as many of those things as possible in a way that fulfils me and supports my family, financially, emotionally, or some other way? At each new post I find a new and different approach. Some day I hope to find the right approach. Maybe. If there even is such a thing.

Last year, as New Year's approached, I thought long and hard about my New Year's resolutions in this context. I knew I had 6 months to accomplish something, anything, in pursuit of some goal. But I had to keep in mind that I was going to be, over the course of those 6 months, a single mom with a full time job. I had to be, in short, reasonable about goal setting.

(I am not a reasonable person.)

So this is what I decided to do. I decided to spend those six months getting myself certified as a personal trainer.

I figured: I'm already in the gym every day anyway. I'm all kinds of fascinated by the ways in which one can push one's body right up to its natural limits. I love learning everything there is to know about foods as fuel. And I spend a decent chunk of time helping out people in the gym, when they ask for help.

So I enrolled in a course and worked out a schedule that would get me through it by June.

But here's the thing - I finished already. I just kept reading and reading and studying and studying until suddenly I could spout off all sorts of facts about VO2 max and BMI and even how to calibrate a treadmill (answer: call GSO). I took the test a few weeks back, and I am now officially a certified personal trainer. Go ahead. Ask me anything. Except how to calibrate your treadmill.

I still haven't figured out how I'll use this new piece of paper of mine. I'd like to work with kids, who need to learn the proper techniques when they are starting off with weightlifting, or with middle-aged moms such as myself: if anyone knows how tough it is to get back into shape after babies, it'd be me - I've been pregnant 6 times and pushed out 4 kids. Plus, I run into all sorts of women who find the gym intimidating, and just need someone to help them start out. Add in my knowledge of nutrition and I'm pretty sure I could help any motivated mom to get back in shape or lose those last annoying pounds.

New Year's resolution, phase one: accomplished.

Now on to phase two: figuring out how to move this skill to Moscow. That's why I'm throwing this story out there into the universe. If you have any ideas for me, let's hear them! Hit me up in the comments, or via email, or over on Facebook. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Betsy said... [Reply]

That is awesome! I am sure that you will find just the right niche in Moscow. :)

Steph Anderson said... [Reply]

Just catching up on blogs after pack-out and flag day, and discovered that we're heading to the same place. We just found out that we're moving to Moscow in August for our first post!

Your blog has been so helpful to me as we've been transitioning into the FS life, so I'm really looking forward to meeting you. And perhaps you can use your new training to help me get back into shape after eating out constantly and not exercising during the stress of moving from CA to VA!

Please. Write your own stuff.