Valentine’s Day is known as the most romantic day of the year. But how do you survive the aisles of chocolate hearts, lovey-dovey music on the radio or listening to giddy friends planning their big date nights while you and your special someone are separated by an ocean?
The first step is to not count this holiday out. Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love, and that means embracing the deployment (as difficult as that may be) and learning to take time to love yourself. Relax, smile, dance. Whether you celebrate alone or with friends, this can be one day that is not about the separation you’re experiencing. Today can be about you.
Here are our ten favorite ways to pamper yourself on Valentine’s Day during a deployment.
One: Mixology 101: The Perfect Bath
Wash your worries away in a luscious bath using the following recipe. 1 cup Epson salts. ¼ cup sea salt. ¼ cup baking soda. 8-10 drops of your favorite, calming essential oil. Throw in a glass of pineapple infused ice water and a good book for the ultimate Valentine’s Day soak.
Two: DIY Glowing Facial Mask
This DIY facial mask is not only all-natural, but it’s simple to make and very inexpensive! Mash ½ of a cucumber in a bowl. Add 2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp. of honey, 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon and 1 tsp. of baking soda. Mix well until creamy and apply to a clean face. Relax for 3-5 minutes and rinse for a glowing and smooth new look.
Three: Take It to Nature
It’s instinct to be drawn to the outdoors, especially when you’re feeling a bit lonely. This Valentine’s Day, plan to give your soul what it has been aching for. Take a hike with friends, take your dog for a run at your favorite park, kayak or get up early and take photographs of the perfect sunrise. When it comes to nature, the sky is the limit.
Four: Schedule a Little Staycation
Book a hotel, pack your comfiest pajamas, order room service and enjoy a 48-hour escape from the real world. Of course, you’ll need to leave your phone on (just in case he calls). But leave all social media at the door and trade it in for a puzzle, adult coloring book or black and white movie.
Five: Find Your Inner Gourmet Chef
Who says a romantic meal must be for two? Plan a delicious, healthy and exciting Valentine’s Day meal for you. Turn on some music, light a few candles, pour yourself a glass of wine and get creative in the kitchen. Need some inspiration? Visit gourmetrecipesforone.com to select your menu.
Six: Friends + A Wine Tasting
If you really want to impress your taste buds this Valentine’s Day, skip the chocolate and head for a local vineyard or winery. Many offer complimentary wine tastings, and some even offer dining options on-site. This is a great daytrip for a group, so reach out to some other ladies from your unit and make a day of it! (Just be sure to decide on a designated driver in advance to ensure you all arrive home safely).
Seven: Sweat It Out in Hot Yoga
While the traditional Valentine’s Day typically ends with flowers and dinner, this year’s circumstance calls for something a bit untraditional. Hot Yoga gives you a chance to slow down, connect and realign your energies to prepare for what’s left of the deployment. Sometimes the most pampering moments are the simplest.
Eight: Splurge on Yourself
Today is all about making your own rules, and that includes a little splurging. You’re not being selfish. You are worth it! Surviving a deployment is difficult and if a new pair of heels, extra large mocha with whipped cream or a karaoke night with the girls makes the wait a bit easier, than splurge on!
Nine: Break Out the Journal
Writing (yes, with a real pen and real paper) provides more therapeutic benefits that most of us will ever understand. Spend your Valentine’s Day relaxed, unplugged and focused on your love story. Not only will it remind you of the love that’s waiting to come home to you, but it will make one amazing homecoming gift.
Ten: Take A Nap
Sleep. Just sleep. Between jobs, kids, pets, homes, finances, family, friends and everything in between, planning a day to just close your eyes and drift off may end up being the best Valentine’s Day gift you could ever give yourself.
In the end, there are plenty of ways to pamper yourself on Valentine’s Day. Just be sure to take comfort in knowing your sweetheart may be far away, but it’s not forever. This time next year, your plans for Valentine’s Day will be quite different. So enjoy the alone time and don’t be afraid to take care of you.
The 15:17 to Paris is a true story of a terrorist, a train, and the three American heroes who thwarted the attack. The stars of the movie – Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spenser Stone – are the three real life heroes who play themselves in this Clint Eastwood-directed film.
The story is one of lifelong friends who were “just doing what we needed to do to survive” (Alek Skarlatos). Meeting first in middle school, the trio forms a bond that lasts through life changes and separations. In August 2015, Anthony is in college in Sacramento, Alek in the Oregon National Guard, and Spenser in the United States Air Force. The trio decide to vacation together in Europe. The film tells the story of their lives, from their initial meeting outside of the principal’s office at their private school, all the way to that day on a train.
As a military spouse, I understand (to an extent) the training our military service members go through. Military training and instinct are supposed to kick in when you need it the most – and that was certainly true for these men. Martial arts, first aid, and intimate knowledge of firearms coupled with the lifetime of trust, support and loyalty were prevalent in the fight scene.
I got to sit down with the gentlemen a few weeks ago and they said they were very happy with how they were portrayed; their biggest concern was the accuracy of the fight sequence. While the three were initially reluctant to portray themselves in the film, they realized they brought a sense of authenticity actors wouldn’t be able to reproduce.
Alek, Anthony and Spenser are now looking to continue their careers in acting. They are excited to see where life may lead them next!
Blue Star Families wants to send an email Valagram to your Milkid, Milspouse, Blue Star Neighbor, Military Parent, or Active Duty service member on Valentine’s Day. For just $1 per Valagram, you’ll show your love – not only your recipient but also to Military Families that will benefit from your $1 donation. Get them here. Maybe you’ve watched Mean Girls a million times and remember the Christmas candy cane-grams? Same concept, less dramatic, and it’s totally fetch.
What is President’s Day? (Other than a day known for car and mattress sales).
President’s Day started off in 1885 in celebration and recognition of #1’s birthday (as in George Washington #1). It has since evolved into a celebration of all current and past presidents. Many states continue to celebrate #1 and #16 individually, but it is nationally recognized and celebrated (usually with some amazing sales and maybe even a day off of work) on the third Monday of February. Thanks, Presidents, for the sweet three-day weekend!
It’s so hard to say goodbye… to your favorite house
Military families know two things for certain: We will move, and we will move frequently. Each time we move, we have three choices: live in military installation housing, rent a house off base, or buy a home. For those of us that become homeowners on purpose, we often also become landlords accidentally. However, even though we might be accidental landlords, becoming a successful landlord is no accident. Read the rest here.
If we were the bouncers at the club- we’d let you in without expecting a tip, because we like you that much!
Blue Star Families has the hookup to attend the third annual virtual Military Spouse Wellness Summit: Renew You. (BSF is a sponsor, NBD or anything.) The Summit begins Monday, March 5 and ends Sunday, March 11th. Who can attend, you ask? Well, if at any point in your life you called yourself a military spouse- then you’re super cool, and you can attend! Avoid burnout- and join us from your most comfortable chair in your house. Register here.
We asked, and you answered
We asked milkids a pretty easy essay question: “What advice would you give your younger milkid self?” Here are some of the responses:
“Be strong, brave, and resilient, because we grow with each new experience.”
“Enjoy the moves! New places are exciting and it’s always cool to learn about different cultures in our own country and the world.”
“Embrace being the new kid, remember, it doesn’t last forever, and while it does… you can milk it for all it’s worth!”
“Be more optimistic. When you move, you learn who your real friends are because they stay in touch with you. Then you end up even closer with them. So, embrace the change!”
“Find a hobby that can travel with you.”
“Get comfortable in your own skin. You can’t worry about people liking you. You have to like you.”
“Sure you’re moving to a new state and a new school, but you might meet your best friend there! If you’re too upset or angry, you’ll never find out the possibilities in front of you. Just take it all in.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, February 2 in Suffolk, Blue Star Families will stand in support of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Co-Chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus, and the proud father of a Marine, as he announces new comprehensive legislation he is introducing to help reduce military spouse unemployment and examine the effects of recurrent moves and reassignments on military spouses’ careers.
“Senator Kaine is truly stepping up for military families with this military spouse employment initiative,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families. “Like other middle class and working class American families, most military families need two incomes. Due to the military lifestyle of frequent moves and high deployment tempo, we suffer from sky-high unemployment and underemployment. We believe Senator Kaine’s initiatives can be game-changing for many of our families and we fully support their adoption in Congress.”
Military families frequently face financial insecurity due to spousal unemployment, which impacts the overall success of our military. Somewhere between 12% and 25% of military spouses are unemployed. Late last year, Blue Star Families met with Virginia Senator Tim Kaine privately and discussed, among other items, the fact that there are between 35,000 and 55,000 unemployed military spouses in Virginia alone.
As a result, Blue Star Families and Senator Kaine convened the Virginia Summit on Military Spouse Employment with leadership from the Department of Defense, the US Army, and spouses of active duty military personnel on October 23, 2017. Consumer Technology Association (CTA), an organization that focuses on market research in the technology industry as well as provides a platform that unites technology leaders to connect and collaborate, and the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC), the largest technology council in the nation that serves about 1,000 companies and organizations, were at the table as well as other major industry leaders. The event highlighted the economic and societal costs, as well as the threat to readiness and national security, associated with the lack of employment opportunities for the spouses of active duty armed forces personnel.
Military spouses were able to share the challenges they faced in their careers, including Carmen Emborski, an Air Force spouse. Carmen is unemployed in the D.C. region, despite a vigorous job market and her M.S. in Biology. She has struggled to complete her Ph.D. because she has supported her husband’s military mission – losing in-state tuition, frequent relocating (including an overseas move), and transferring paperwork internationally.
Kaine incorporated ideas from those conversations into the legislation he will announce on Friday.
Career Gold That Military Spouses Don’t Realize They Have
Story by Kellie Gunderman | BSF Staff
As a community, we talk a lot of about military spouse unemployment and underemployment. We have a lot to offer the working world, but many of us never get the opportunity. We move… a lot. Childcare is either too expensive or not available. Our service members come and go far too often. We’re isolated from our friends and families who live states away. The fact of the matter is: Being a military spouse is the definition of a full-time job all on its own. But we want more.
We are proud to support our service members and serve our country, but we need something that is our own. We want to find success and feel the same pride within ourselves that we feel for our country. We deserve that because we have earned it. So how do we make it happen? It’s time to talk about all of the skillsets you have acquired over the years; skillsets you never realized you had, that will make you employable.
YOU ARE BEYOND ADAPTABLE
Telling an interviewer that you are adaptable does not even begin to explain how versatile and resilient the military life has made you. You are like a ninja. You can drop into any position without making a sound, get right to work and make everyone around you believe you were there all along. Hiring a military spouse means not having to worry about how the “new girl” is doing. She’s doing fine. Trust me.
We jump through more hoops on a daily basis than a circus lion and even though the life of a military spouse may appear to be chaotic, there is always a method to our madness. In one single day, a military spouse can be a wife, mother, dog walker, culinary artist, nurse, volunteer, household engineer, cycling enthusiast, accountant, mechanic, telephone operator, soccer coach, electrician, homework specialist, bathtime coordinator, bedtime police… and still look fabulous for her late-night Skype date with the man she loves all the way across the ocean. Now, tell me that’s not multi-tasking royalty!
YOU ARE A CRITICAL THINKING GURU
Hello, information overload. Have you ever met an individual who can find a solution to a problem faster and more efficiently than a military spouse? Our lives are constantly presenting new challenges and we are always right there, waiting, to handle it. Why? We don’t have a choice.
YOU MIGHT AS WELL HAVE A PH.D. IN STRESS MANAGEMENT
Any military spouse will tell you that communication is the key to a successful military marriage. Did you know that good communication skills are also vital to managing stress? Don’t’ get me wrong, we definitely have our days when we want to throw something (or someone) through a window, but we tend to get ourselves under control before anyone realizes we’re having a moment. Once you’ve been through eight deployments and eleven cross-country moves, the idea of the workplace stressing a military spouse out is pretty funny.
When you move every 2-3 years, you learn to get creative because if you didn’t, you’d always be living in a beige living room with white tile flooring and nothing to look at but hundreds of spackled holes in the walls. Right? You also learn how to have fun and keep life interesting for the kids on a very tight budget. There is no doubt that creativity is lives at the soul of every, single military spouse out there.
YOU ALWAYS TAKE THE INITIATIVE. ALWAYS.
There is never time to stop when you’re a military spouse. You know selfish people get called out for thinking they are the “center of the universe?” Well, military spouses really are. Every time we move, begin a deployment, end a deployment or have any type of emergency we become the center of the universe because we handle it all… and we do it like a boss.
YOU DOMINATE WHAT IT MEANS TO BE DIVERSE
We live all over. We meet people from all different backgrounds, cultures, religions, colors, shapes, and sizes. Military spouses do not discriminate. We have learned that if you’re nice to us, we are nice to you. End of story.
YOU ARE THE DEFINITION OF DEPENDABLE
There is no denying this. If a military spouse says she’ll be somewhere or do something, consider it done.
Military families know two things for certain: We will move, and we will move frequently. Each time we move, we have three choices: live in military installation housing, rent a house off base, or buy a home. For those of us that become homeowners on purpose, we often also become landlords accidentally. However, even though we might be accidental landlords, becoming a successful landlord is no accident.
To qualify myself as someone who can speak about being a successful landlord, I have to disclose that I’ve also been an unsuccessful landlord and a lucky landlord. Hard lessons learned have helped me to become a successful landlord during the ten years my husband and I have owned properties. We’ve purchased four houses, currently, own two rental properties, and will be converting a third house into a rental property this summer. From my experiences, I can tell you this is what a successful landlord knows.
Know their home is a business
The golden rule of landlording. Successful landlords don’t think about their house as a home, they think about it as a business, which, in fact, it is. That means the actions they take regarding their property are thought out, professional, and have the best interest of their business in mind.
That means time well spent on reading contracts and keeping good financial records. Spending money on upgrades that will attract tenants instead of choosing what you personally prefer. Likewise, hastily made decisions usually turn out poorly. Like that one time, I needed a property manager and hired the first person I interviewed. I chose to ignore her numerous horrible ratings, as well as her Better Business Bureau’s D rating, and I paid for it.
Know not to rent to friends, family, or co-workers
Friends and family sound like the ideal tenants at first glance. You already know them and trust them to take good care of your investment. It works out great for everyone until there’s an issue. Now you’re mixing friends, money, and your business. Holding back deposits for damage, needing to raise the rent, enforcing your pet policy…these are all just quick examples of how it can get weird fast if you choose to rent to people you know.
Know their cash flow
Successful landlords know that it takes more than just covering their mortgage payment to make a profit. Insurance, property taxes, HOA fees, repairs and maintenance, vacancy losses, and property manager fees are all examples of costs that work against your profit.
I have property managers for 100% of my rental properties. I realize that I’m giving up 8-10% of my rental income each month to have my property professionally managed. However, I think of it as paying for peace of mind, convenience, and protection.
I’m not saying you won’t be successful without a property manager, but OCONUS moves, extreme schedules, and having trustworthy friends to help you have boots on the ground can quickly wear on even the most prepared landlord.
Whether getting professional help means hiring a full-service property manager, an agent to find and screen tenants, a CPA to handle your taxes or a dedicated person to help you with on the spot repairs, know what you need into order to keep your property (and investment) running smoothly.
Know how to protect themselves and their assets
Owning a home is obviously a huge investment and often a way to improve your net worth in the long run. Take time to make sure you have the appropriate levels of homeowner’s insurance and iron-clad leases. Depending on how much you own in rental property, you might even want to consider buying an umbrella insurance policy to protect you from devastating liability claims.
Keep in mind that “you don’t know what you don’t know”. I love using the private Facebook group from the site, The Reluctant Landlord as a sounding board whenever I have questions and I’m not exactly sure where to start. Elizabeth Colegrove, a fellow military spouse, runs this group for other military landlords. This group has taught me more than I ever wanted to know on things such as depreciation recapture taxes, SCRA-related problems, and even how open and close my sprinkler system.
Know to build up a rental property emergency fund
Do you know about Murphy’s Law? Well, it’s a thing. Check it out. Just when everything seems to be going your way, Murphy’s Law will sneak in through the back door. It’s the perfect tenant, who just received orders to deploy in the middle of the year, and now needs to break their lease. Or maybe it’s your air conditioning unit that breaks in the middle of a mid-summer heat streak.
Even with regular maintenance and meticulous upkeep of your rental property, unknown and sometimes costly incidents will pop up. It’s never fun to spend your hard earned dollars on things like broken dishwashers, air conditioning unit replacements, or covering the costs of a few unleased months. However, successful landlords know that Murphy’s Law and its costly aftermath are just a part of being a landlord, and always have an emergency fund to cover it.
Turning the corner from being an accidentally (sometimes) lucky landlord to a successful landlord meant putting the right measures in place to manage my properties like a business. I don’t worry about middle of the night repair phone calls, HOA complaints, or my property sitting vacant. Instead, I look forward to the first of the month, collect my rents, and keep planning for the future.
This is a very funny book about fruit that are singing rhymes about each other, but poor orange feels left out. He knows nothing rhymes with orange! For example, the cherries say they are “the berries”, the grapes wear capes, and you can take a banana to a cabana. The whole time the fruit are singing rhymes, orange is on the side of the page saying something funny too. But he does also feel sad and left out. In the end, the fruit notice he is sad and tell him there’s “no one quite as smorange as an orange” and they tell him smorange means awesome!
My favorite funny part in the book is on page 18 when it says “if a pear gets lost at night and meets a wolf who takes a bite, then does that pear become a pearwolf when the moon is full and bright?” The illustration shows a pear drawn like a werewolf chasing an apple!
I recommend this book to anyone who likes funny books. I also recommend books in the Rainbow Magic Fairies set and the Disney Star Darlings book set.
A husband and wife prepare to deploy to Afghanistan together, leaving behind their three children. Subscribe: http://bit.ly/NatGeoSubscribe CHAIN OF COMMAND AIRS MONDAYS 9/8c.
About Chain of Command
Narrated by actor Chris Evans, Chain of Command and delivers extraordinary insight into the line of authority and responsibility as never seen before through an unprecedented look deep inside the war against violent extremism. From the halls of power at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., to the front lines in Mosul, Iraq; Afghanistan; Somalia; Niger; and SouthAmerica, and to the surprising ISIS recruiting ground of Trinidad and Tobago— only 1,600 miles from the coast of Florida — viewers will see firsthand how decisions made at the Pentagon have a direct impact on our service members on the ground, fighting to protect Americans and our allies from radicalized extremists.
National Geographic is the world’s premium destination for science, exploration, and adventure. Through their world-class scientists, photographers, journalists, and filmmakers, Nat Geo gets you closer to the stories that matter and past the edge of what’s possible.
Blue Star Families was honored to receive an invitation to a screening and the premiere of 12 Strong. The movie captures the bravery and challenges of the Special Forces unit in a way that will resonate with military and civilians. As military spouses, it was wonderful to see the movie include the struggles of families as the service member faces deployment.
12 Strong tells the true (declassified) story of the first U.S. soldiers to land in Afghanistan just days after 9/11. It is, in our opinion, a heartfelt and respectable portrayal of commitment and courage of our Military that is not always shown. The true feelings of the families and spouses are brought to the forefront, along with the impact it has on our service members is visible on screen.
“How do you love your family and leave them to go to war?”
As a spotlight into recent history and an ongoing conflict, 12 Strong brings to the big screen a great representation of this declassified mission. With a great cast who has a unique perspective on what our service members sign up to do voluntarily, the story was worth telling and a great tribute to those unsung heroes.
The audience gains a better understanding of how much our service members sacrifice for our country and how important it was for the Northern Alliance to defeat the Taliban. The acting was superb and it was wonderful to see how cultural differences and language barriers were handled with sensitivity and understanding.
But what was it like behind the scenes of this amazing opportunity?
BSF team members had the opportunity to screen the film in LA prior to the red carpet premiere in NYC, and we even got to meet Chris Hemsworth and Geoff Stults!
Geoff and Chris shared with BSF Regional Director Crystal that they enjoy any opportunity to support our military members and families. Check them out with their new Blue Star Neighbors pin!
Being a military spouse comes with its joys, but there are some challenges, too. One of the most public of those challenges come in the form of a search for employment. The results of the 2017 Military Family Lifestyle Survey told us all we need to know. Childcare is too expensive. Our service members are away far too often, leaving us to take care of the house, kids and fur babies alone. Even our own communities don’t understand our struggles and local businesses are fearful of hiring us for reasons we have all come to know far too well.
And so, we are all led to believe that working from home is the way to go. Say, “hello,” to creating our own schedules, tax deductions, and flexibility and say, “bye-bye,” to micromanaging, commutes and pants! Right!? Working from home is the dream for so many of us military spouses, but is it right for all of us?
My name is Kellie. I have been a military spouse for fifteen years, I have been working from home for six of those years and I am here to tell you that it’s not the perfect, beautiful bubble we all imagine it to be. Let’s walk through a few things no one wants to tell you about working from home.
When I began working from home, I loved it… at first. Then, I began to realize that I was completely alone. I had no co-workers to chit-chat with over coffee in the morning, to take lunch breaks with or to collaborate with when I needed some creative inspiration. I always thought of myself as someone who could do it alone, but this quickly taught me I was wrong. I needed people, but there was no one around. This can be such a dangerous mistake to make when you are a military spouse because, during deployments, the loneliness of the day never ends. Sure, my son would come home from school, but I did not have any adult interaction and I fell into a very dark place until I identified the missing piece that I needed to fill.
SOLUTION: I stopped freelancing and accepted a job with Blue Star Families. My team is located coast-to-coast, but we are all military spouses and we have a really firm understanding of what the rest of us are going through. We have a video conference every single morning to collaborate, discuss ongoing projects and just check-in with each other. Our organization also just began hosting a virtual “happy hour.” Another great option is to join a local “work club” that consists of other professionals, who work from home but need a community.
It’s not surprising that working from home requires a sense of self-discipline and time management skills like you’ve never known before. This may not be a problem if those are skill sets you already possess or if you have the ability to learn them quickly, but if you are someone who distracts easily or can’t get organized, this could become a huge problem.
SOLUTION: If you are having trouble managing your tasks while working from home, seeking out professional development webinars to help you learn organization and time management skills could be a game changer for you. If that doesn’t work, you may want to explore moving the party back into the office where you can work with others to stay on point. (Like I said: Working from home is not for everyone.)
Working from home can really affect your work-life balance. When you work in an office, you leave at a certain time. The computer gets shut down, the lights are turned off and the door locks behind you. But when your work is always staring at you or you can hear your email sounding off down the hall, it makes life just a bit more difficult. Also, if you’re someone that has a touch of the evil workaholic syndrome, this is going to create more obstacles for you in your personal life than you were betting on. The idea of work-life balance is no joke. You need time to yourself and time to devote to your children, health, and home.
SOLUTION: Do not set up your office space in your main living area. (I made this mistake early on and rectified it soon after). Designate a space in your home (preferably a space with a door) that is only for work. This is not where you do homework with the kids, pay bills or search for recipes on Pinterest. Then, make a promise to yourself and your loved ones that you are setting office hours and sticking to them. Creating boundaries for your work is key to a healthy relationship with your work-from-home status.
This one is a bit of a hybrid, consisting of self-discipline and no balance. But, it gets it’s own little paragraph here because it’s the most common complaint I hear from military spouses that work from home. That’s right! It’s the dreaded weight gain. Why is this such a concern? Working from home puts you in a seated position all day with easy access to all of your delicious treats only a few steps away in the kitchen. Now, when I began working from home I immediately joined a gym right down the street. I created a workout plan and thought to myself, “This is going to be great! I can get my workout in and get my work done and everything will be dandy!” Wrong. When you work from home, stepping away from the computer for even a coffee refill can be a daunting task on its own. I followed my advice above and set office hours, and I stuck to them (well, most of the time) but I just couldn’t get away from my computer mid-day to get in my workout. I had no self-discipline when it came to my health and well-being, and I was seriously lacking in the work-life balance department.
SOLUTION: I began packing my lunch. That’s right! I was ten feet away from my kitchen all day, but I still packed my lunch in a cute little pink lunchbox with an ice pack. I only traveled to the kitchen if I needed the microwave. I also got dressed… every, single morning. I treated my home office as if it were not in my home, and after a few days, I could feel it in my bones that my body was responding in a positive way. I also designated three days a week that I would do my workout before even checking my email, and I set an alarm for mid-day to walk my dogs.
At the end of the day, working from home can be a fantastic way for a military spouse to maintain a flexible career. But before accepting that work-from-home position or deciding to go all-out in the freelance department, be sure to take it all for a test drive and make sure it’s the right fit for you.