As a girl in her late twenties, the last thing you would think to contribute her independence to would be the elementary school lunch table.  Stretched some twenty years wide, what does that have to do with anything?

Growing up my parents always wanted my sister, brother and I to be very independently strong people.  Coming from a military family, my childhood was filled with picking up every two years and making route to our next orders.  Right when I felt like I may not be the new kid at school anymore, we would pack up and move, leaving us with the chore (or maybe opportunity!) to make new friends and meet new people.  If you ask a second grader, they may not necessarily tell you they want to experience a new home state, meet all different types of people and learn all about their new recreational basketball team where they know NO ONE; but truth is, moments like this shape you as a person more than some may imagine.

Not only was I taught how to introduce myself to others and make new friends, but I was shown how to lean on my family as well. Many would agree that family is the single most important part of life.  Each new town the military brought us to we knew we would have our family there, which was so comforting as a child knowing how strong we were as a unit.

For anyone that has traveled and lived in various parts of the US, you know that each state can be drastically different.  As I sat at various school lunch tables over the years, I would have new friends asking me if I lived in igloos and fished out of a hole in the middle of my living room in Alaska, then the next year asked how many seashells I found on the beaches of Hawaii.  Now Im not going to pull a comment like my dad would and say that I had to carry barrels of books through the blistering snow at the wee hours of the morning to walk five miles to grab the school bus because we all know our parents had it tougher than us, right? But what I will say is that it was a true challenge for my siblings and me to try to fit in with kids at each new town we were stationed at.  As the middle child, I was lucky enough to always be in the same school with either one of my siblings at the same time. Having my siblings there and being in such a loving home impacted my life in more ways than I can imagine.  I would do anything for my family and we all support each other no matter what.

One distinct memory I have as child was right before we moved away from Kodiak, Alaska.  Kodiak has always been dear to my heart because I was born on that snowy, incredible island.  I remember driving through town with my mom and siblings a few days before we were leaving from our second tour on the island.  My mom told each of us kids to look outside, take in the moment and see how beautiful the view was overlooking the Pacific.  There were fishing boats in the harbor, bald eagles flying above us and the sight was absolutely memorable and breathtaking.  As an 8 year old I thought it was cool and so I took a mental picture because my mom told me to.  Thinking back to that moment now, I really understand why she asked us to do that.  My mom was right; not everyone gets to witness such stunning environments and some of lifes greatest moments in that way.  She took the moment to freeze time for us and just appreciate all that we had.  I cant thank her enough for that. 

A few days later, as we were traveling across country to the east coast, we stopped in Las Vegas on a layover for a few days.  Let me tell you flying from Kodiak to Vegas in early June is not exactly ideal.  We got off the flight and went to meet my dad as he had been there for a few days and I think all of Sin City wondered who that family was with paper-white skin, luggage for days and dressed in parkas on a 90 degree day.  Lets just say I have never, to this day, been so uncomfortably hot in my life as we slowly trucked to the MGM Hotel. Thats a whole other story.

Point is, without these moments, not only may I never have experienced the glaciers of Alaska or breathing in Hawaiis fresh air, but I wouldnt be the person that I am today. I am blessed with the most incredible family, I love meeting and learning about people from all over the world (strangers or not), and Im not scared to pick up my things, hop on a plane and experience any other town this beautiful world has to offer.  Try that for an elementary school lesson.

INTENTION: Be grateful for the memories and friends I make everywhere I go.

xo, Stacey 

On a typical weekend, you'll find Stacey playing on the beach, laughing with friends or jogging the strand of her Southern California neighborhood.  As a co-founder of Your Beautiful story, Stacey loves to appreciate all the beautiful things in life, mimosas included.  Follow her adventures with @staceylthomas or her passion to inspire the world with @beYOUtiful_story on Instagram.