Oh, the places you'll go.

I often encourage my older daughter to clear out toys that we can donate. It's something I like doing to promote detachment, lack of clutter (minimalism is a lifestyle I enjoy), and because there is simply no reason to keep so many thing. Or, as my daughter said today, "There's too much to clean!" I agree. She got a bag and filled it on her own. When my youngest is a bit older, she'll learn the same lesson from me and her big sister.

There are some things that I attach memories to and would like to keep. One, in particular, was a stuffed animal that my daugthers' father gave me once and I thought it would be cute to pass it on. I did pass it on and it was played with briefly. However, my (then) 3 year old put an end to its life with us when she donated it during a Christmas donation. LOL Fine by me, I guess.

The one that has made the cut - and I hope continues to - is a bear I have had since my early 20s. The bear fit easily in my hand and became a traveling mascot of mine in my Army days. I brought it with me to Fort Hood, I brought it with me to Kuwait, I brought it with me to Iraq, I brought it with me back to Kuwait, to Thailand, back to the States, and then back overseas again.

After all of this time, this bear has now become the possession of my kiddos. As we speak, it's sitting on the couch between them as they play with trains and a few other toys with it. While evacuating for Hurricanes Matthew (last year) and Irma (this year) I didn't bring it though. Although I love it, I would part with it. I have photos and that can certainly be the digital memory of it that I keep.

And, it may sound completely silly to bother bringing a small toy, but I loved it. It became a funny mission of mine to have friends photographed with it, to have it chill with some weapons, meet some people in Thailand, chill with a dog in Thailand, etc.

When you are far from home and those you love, you bring a little something from home. This bear was my little something.  I hope you have a little something, too. It's important to find a way to bring happiness wherever you go and a reminder of a life that awaits your return.

Here are a few photos of the bear and the travels we shared.

My mum and bear before I deployed. 

In Fort Hood getting our training on. 

The things a Public Affairs Soldier does while deployed. Photographs their bear with their bestie. 

Bear on my BBB's M-4 Carbine  

"My" Gunny Iz 

During my travels through Kuwait, I made a friend who was actually based at the same location as me in Iraq. You never know who you (and bear) will have the pleasure of meeting.   

Bear and me in Koh Samui 

Bear is on my top bunk in the back right corner. Let's just say that traveling in Kuwait and Iraq sucked. 

Happy to have left Iraq and sitting on a beach in Thailand 

Yummy (real) Thai food. Yum Yum Yum! Beach front dining is my favorite. 

Bear saying a prayer to Buddha 

Meeting a friendly pup who also hung out at the beach bar 

Drinking at the beach at night in Koh Samui. We both may have been a bit drunk.

Drinking at the beach at night in Koh Samui. We both may have been a bit drunk. 

Easy to hike with in Koh Samui

We were both madly in love with this waterfall on Koh Samui

Found a perfect swing while hiking in Koh Samui 

Cruising on a boat in Bangkok

Five adults in a tuk tuk + a bear 

He still didn't tell me if he liked eating bugs.  HAhahHAhaa

Bear eating buts with me (interesting street food) in Thailand

After a long night out in Bangkok

And now bear in September 2017 with my daughters ...

Isn't it funny how much kids AND cats love boxes. Everything is a fort! 

Bear & my girls 2017

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