Monday, November 16, 2015

A Citizen Soldier

Citizen Soldier, St Luke's Health System Honors Veteran's Day and Wellness Coordinator, Idaho Air National Guard, Citizen Soldier, 124 Fighter Wing

I often write about my work with the Air National Guard, but don't often touch on my civilian job—the one that I do full-time. I know I've mentioned it before, but I am a "traditional" guardsman—meaning that I work out on the base just one weekend a month and two training weeks a year (unless I have other training/deployments/etc). The rest of my 40+-hour work-week is spent at the hospital, where I am a Wellness Coordinator. I've worked for the hospital for five years and have had the privilege of working within three different departments... it's been a great growing, learning experience.

I love my job with the hospital because I currently work in the department of Occupational Health and Well-being. Our focus is developing and implementing health-oriented programs to our employee population and the surrounding community. We have a few folks who have the same title as me, but we all have different areas of focus. I specialize in healthy pregnancy, weight loss and maintenance, and web and social media marketing. The work we do is very fulfilling, and it's so encouraging to see the healthy changes people make in their lives as a direct result of the programs and opportunities we offer.

Last week in remembrance of Veteran's Day, I had the honor of being featured by my employer as a veteran and current employee. They showcased a few other retired veterans, and I, being one of several hundred veterans who work for our hospital, was chosen to represent the "active" service member population. Our public relations department came over and snapped a quick shot of me—thank goodness I was wearing my Air Force shirt in honor of the holiday—and took a quick quote. They shared it on their social media sites with the above photo, noting:
"Annelise Rowe, a Wellness Coordinator at St. Luke's, saw the impact joining the Air National Guard had on her husband. So in November 2013, she enlisted as well. Annelise is an Airman First Class with the 124th Fighter Wing at Gowen Field and will soon receive her commission as a Second Lieutenant.
'It's very humbling to think about those who have dedicated their lives to service,' she said about Veterans Day. 'It's a huge honor to be part of that.'"
Honestly, I feel like I get to experience the best of both worlds. Full-time, I have the opportunity to engage with the most amazing employees and Treasure Valley residents on a daily basis. We have a lot of fun doing our job and "sharing the health" with others. And then on the weekends when I get to spend time out at the Air Guard, that's incredible, too. I get to train as a soldier with the hardest working troops out there.

I also love the opportunity for growth. As a civilian, I am allowed the creativity to create and deploy new healthy-minded projects and have the ability to pilot almost anything that I can come up with. A BABY (Best After Baby You) class for expectant moms? Done. A Healthy Living BINGO wellness challenge? Done. It's awesome. And with the Air National Guard, I'm also awarded opportunities, such as being selected for commission, which will happen sometime within the next year. I have been pursuing a commission for the last year, and to finally be selected has been a very rewarding—and time consuming!—accomplishment.

In my Veteran's Day post last week, I mentioned that I love what I do... and to be honest, love seems like an understatement. Sometimes life is crazy, busy, hectic, overwhelming, consuming, fast-paced, and entirely a whirlwind... and sometimes that's when it's the best—like right now. I'll take the crazy-pace any day if it means it's going to be this good. Because really, it's that good.

Grateful—for all the opportunities. Thankful—for all the support. Excited—for what the future holds. And that about sums it up. I'm a citizen soldier... and I love it.

Monday, November 9, 2015

For the Love of the Service

124 Fighter Wing, 124 Beacon, Idaho Air National Guard Runner wins Air Force Half Marathon Military Finisher Award

When you can think back to the big decisions in life and say, "That was the best decision I've ever made!" isn't that a good feeling? Professionally, joining the Idaho Air National Guard was, without a doubt, the best decision I have ever made.

The Guard has helped me feel like I belong to something—something so much greater than myself. I have the ability to serve, volunteer, meet new people, have my voice be heard, strive for excellence, learn new skills, put a purpose behind my passion for fitness and running, and so much more.

Every drill weekend, there's something new that's happening or a big change that's taking place. As this blog is my online diary, these are things that I want to be sharing, but due to the nature of this new line of work, I have to limit what I can put out there. I apologize in advance to any of you who come here hoping for career updates. Times are sensitive right now, and I have to withhold from publishing all the amazing things I'm experiencing (and trust me, there are a lot!). While I'd love to give constant "this is why the Air Guard is the best thing ever" and "this is what we do in the Air Guard" posts, I'm honestly unable to. It's sad, too, because it's interesting, rewarding, exciting, and ever-changing. But I have to—for myself, for my family, for my fellow guardsmen, and for my unit.

I did want to share something quick—the photo above—which is a snapshot from our wing's monthly newsletter and a recent article about my trip to the Air Force Half Marathon. It was a huge honor to be featured in that story, and again, it's just one of the amazing things I'm so blessed to be a part of with my commitment to the Idaho Air National Guard.

This week, we look back on all of those who have gone before us with Veteran's Day. As I remember all who serve, who have dedicated their lives to the mission, and who have died defending it, I am so grateful to be a part of this amazing force. Thank you, Veterans.

Truly, I wish I could update you with more. But for now, stay tuned. I will end by noting that what I do is something I love to do. I may only spend part of my time in the uniform as a "traditional" guardsman, but I am a member of the military all the time. Again, committing to serve my country was the best professional decision I've ever made. And it only gets better from here.

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Boise State Weekend in Las Vegas

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, Boise State traveling fans, Boise State at UNLV game

When your mom gives you a call and says, "I'm treating you to a full expense-paid trip to Las Vegas for the Boise State game... can you go?"—how do you not go? GIRLS' WEEKEND was on.

We flew down to Vegas on Friday morning, giving us a full weekend to take in the sights. I've been to Las Vegas several times for cheerleading events (football cheer & cheer competitions), so it was fun to take my mom back and show her around since she hadn't been for many years.

We stayed at the Excalibur—not my favorite hotel on the strip—but hey, when you get a free trip, you get a free trip! We didn't spend much time in our room or hotel though. Instead—as we're not much for gambling, shopping,or partying—we made it a point to explore and walk around as much as possible!

Our first top on Friday afternoon was Jimmy Buffet's Margartitaville. They have my favorite nachos, so we ordered a big plate and also shared some jambalaya. It was delicious! We also walked all up and down the strip, totally tuckering ourselves out. We had expected we'd get tired from all the walking and people-watching, but we hadn't expected that we'd be fast asleep in our room before 9:00 pm. Oops!

The next morning, we were up early for an hour-long run down the strip. We ended up getting joined by a nice man from Holland. That made it fun! We then bussed out to the Boise State game, joining all the other fans decked out in blue & orange while we cheered on the Broncos. The weather was so nice (and very hot!) and we made some new BSU friends at the game. It was great to watch our team bring home the win!

After we returned from the game, we grabbed a giant caramel apple at Hershey's Chocolate World (so good!) before walking over and enjoying dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. The food was so good, but our server made the experience even better! Afterward, we were walking back to our hotel to avoid the crazy Halloween party-goers when we stumbled upon a dance party outside New York New York. It was great because the DJ was playing upbeat music and there were tons of families there! My mom and I ended up dancing with kids, a giant stuffed bear, and all the other costumed families for over three hours. We hadn't expected to have that much fun! We turned in around the time that the big crowds started coming out around midnight, and it was a nice end to our active day.

Sunday morning, we woke up early and ran from Excalibur all the way down to the Stratosphere and back—that was a long one! We ended up grabbing a Mexican breakfast at La Salsa Cantina to make up for all the calories burned before getting on the plane to go home. Literally, despite eating our way through the strip, I think we lost weight after all the walking and running. Boy, we were tired!

What a fun girls' weekend we had. You just can't beat it!

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, Boise State traveling fans, Boise State at UNLV game

I think that the above photo just about sums it up. The only thing it's missing is the video of me dancing with the giant stuffed bear at the dance party. You're lucky I spared you.

Thanks for the fun weekend, Harmon Travel, and of course mom for asking me to be your date!