A few weeks ago I attended an online workshop hosted by my very talented friend, Amy Watts who is a Life Coach for the John Maxwell Team. Even before she was on official life coach, she was in some ways mine and she is as close to a big sister to me that you can get without being related to me. Her workshop was all about envisioning our future, mapping out our goals for 2017. What I loved most about the way she helped us do that was we spent 25 to 30 minutes meditating and imagining what our lives will look like on Dec. 24, 2017. I mean what a better way to map out our goals than by envisioning our future! We also were encouraged to put pen to paper and write down what we envisioned. Each step of this process was purposeful! We used our imagination to create in our minds the picture of what we want to achieve. Imagination is a powerful too. One question I ask in counseling a lot, often referred to as the “Miracle Question” is, “If you woke up tomorrow and your problem was solved, how is your life different?” I encourage my clients to imagine what their life would look like, what is better, what is the same? Thinking about the possibilities. That is exactly what Amy had us do when she had us envision how our lives looked at the end of 2017. And the we wrote it down, we put it out there, we are making ourselves accountable. So I wanted to share my Vision of Future with all of you. One because there are goals in there that for my blog and growing this community. And two because I thought it was such a great exercise to help plan out your year! So if you want to maybe it’s something for you to try too. Mine is in written as a letter to myself.
What a year it has been! We have moved, had yet another period of separation! And in some ways I am thankful we endured that. It means B’s career is finally on the move again. He’s had a promotion and now we are living, well I don’t know where we are living exactly because that part just really isn’t up to me (HURRY UP ARMY!). But we are finally moved into our new home, boxes are unpacked and we are settled in! 3 bedrooms is a lot of space for us, but we are planning for the future even now. But we have a Queen sized guest bed finally, so wherever we are, we are ready for visitors. Right now I am sitting on the couch with B and Lucy watching Christmas movies in our new home freshly decorated for the holidays! If we are somewhere cold, maybe we have a fire going, if we have gone tropical maybe our windows are open to let the breeze in. But either way we are all together. 2017 is a year of growth for our family, I don’t know if you’ll be pregnant when Dec 14, 2017 rolls around but you and B will be working on maybe adding that little one to the family.
The blog has taken off, and is starting to bring in bits of income! I am so excited; I can’t wait to see how much farther I can take it. I am loving the community that has been built around it and that there is something out there to be a support to other military spouses. I know how hard it can be to be alone, loss of friends, distance from family, unanswered questions, and lots of lots of waiting. But I am coming to learn more and more and I want to have the opportunity to help others!
Your counseling has also developed. The new post is also allowing you to serve the military in this way. Even though it doesn’t bring in much it is something and now it’s also counting towards a license!! YAY! It’s still part time so its gonna take a while, but I still find ways to fill the time!
While I may come and some P.S. to this letter I think I have given you a pretty good idea of what 2017 has in store for you! But you are going to rock it! All the challenges will be tough but you are a strong person. Celebrate the successes! And enjoy life!
What would your vision of future look like? Share with me here!
If you are interested in life or business coaching, Check out Amy Watts here! (p.s. I am not being paid to say this!)
So far we have covered, marriage, mental wellness, and now onto friendships. As a marital relationship, friendships also contribute to over all wellbeing. Friendships increase a sense of belonging and purpose, boosts happiness, reduces stress, can help you cope with traumas, and encourage you. However, we do need to be careful about the friends we choose. Toxic friendships can influence us in negative ways, dragging us down, increasing stress, and discouragng you from positive behaviors, and encouraging negative behaviors. As you see friends are important, but its more so the quality of friends you have that make your life better.
My husband just hit his year active duty mark in the military, just two weeks after our one year wedding anniversary. I knew moving around was part of the life-style before we got into it. And I felt like I was prepared because I had moved around a bit as a child; however, I was not prepared for how quickly I would make meaningful and lasting friendships with some wonderful ladies (I guess having to rely on them when your husbands are never home for months does that to you!) and how quickly I would have to say goodbye. I have been here for 6 months and I have already made life-long friendships and I have already had to say good bye to many friends! How could 6 months bring so much change? I saw on my Facebook page this morning a video for my “2016 in Review” and in that it showed me how many friends I had added this year, 76. That is crazy to me! Basically that means 76 new ‘friends’ (I don’t hang out with most of those, but still that’s a lot of new connections in just 6 months).
So it kind of seems like friendships are hard to come, easy go; which is extremely difficult if you are not already an outgoing person, eager to constantly be putting yourself out there, making new friends. For some people this is really discouraging. How do you cope with the constant flux of friendships that we experience as military spouses? It can be difficult to deal with, especially as a new spouse, I had no idea how quickly this would hit me. I was not prepared for having made friends and them leave so quickly. Here are some simple ways I have found to cope with transitions:
When the friends we initially make begin to move away, it is hard to find motivation to go out and cultivate new friendships. In my work as a counselor with military families I have heard many women say, “what’s the point of making friends here, we are just going to be gone in a few months anyway.” And I have felt that a few times myself. I am especially feeling that now with many of my friends having left or are about to leave. Furthermore, we are only looking at being here for a couple more months. But, I am here to tell you what the point is! The reason you make friends even if you are only going to be around a short time is that friendships help combat loneliness. And prolonged loneliness leads into depression. Now not everyone who is lonely will wind up depressed, but it certainly doesn’t help! We can’t get trapped into fearing putting ourselves out there and refuse to make new friends. As hard and uncomfortable as it is we need to continue to grow friendships regardless of how much time we have left at a duty station.
Friendships breed community. We as humans were not designed to live in isolation; we were meant to live as a community. That is why people thrive when they are plugged into their surroundings. We cannot be our best self in isolation, we will not feel good about ourselves. Self-esteem and sense of self-worth both take a hit when we try to function in prolonged isolation. Community is important no matter if you are a military family or not, but it is my experience that military families are more heavily reliant on outside communities than civilians are because they are more likely to be far from any kind of family support.
When you don’t have any family around there is no one else to rely on in times of trouble other than the community that you have built up around you. Just recently I read a Facebook post written by a spouse here at Fort Benning. She was pregnant and sick, her husband was working and unable to get home immediately, she couldn’t drive herself to the ER and had no one to watch her kids all because she had not built up a community around her. Now she is totally dependent on her husband who can’t be there for her right now. This is the kind of situation that results when you rely on far away family and friends to be your emotional support and social interactions, there is no community surrounding you when you need someone.
Just as phone and video interactions with far away family members can’t be the entirety of your social interactions, neither can your husband. Your husband cannot be your sole source of social interactions and validation. You will soon wear him out because he is not meant to be your sole emotional support; primary yes, but only, not so much. If we are not the best versions of ourselves, we cannot provide the support and validation that our husbands and children need. This creates a vicious cycle of neglect of emotional wellbeing. Now I am not saying that having friends will fill the void that might be left by relying solely on your husband, only God can do that when we lean on him. But a husband cannot be your community as much as you try to make him so. It will only leave you feeling isolated.
Your Challenge - Putting Yourself out there
I know it’s hard ladies, it takes me out of my comfort zone, just as much as yall. It can seem unfair when some really extraverted, outgoing people always seem to have friends and all the resources in the area! And you are sitting there all alone just hoping for a semblance of friendship. Now I am not saying you have to be friends with everybody. But we do have to leave our little nest of blankets and pillows on our couches (and turn off the Netflix, it will still be there when we get home) be vulnerable and open ourselves to the idea of making friends and finding community. We have to leave our comfort zone every once in a while or we will begin to feel isolated, lonely, and depressed. So maybe one day you respond and accept someone’s invitation to go to Starbucks or attend an event you normally wouldn’t. Take a chance, maybe that should be your New Year’s Resolution. You’ll probably be surprised how having a community around you will make you feel more secure.
How are you prepared to make friends this year?
And don't forget to check out Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3 here!
Hey Everyone!! I am so excited to announce I will be writing a piece for the Army Wife Network Experience Blog each month! My first post will be released December 19! For those of you who know me this will be an introduction to how I got to where I am! Foor those who don't know me hopefully it will help us get to know each other!
I am so excited about this new endeavour! I have some great ideas planned for my posts for the coming year both for my own blog here and over at the Army Wife Network!
I hope yall check it out when it comes out!! Thanks for all your support!
Anything yall want me to write about let me know below in the comment!
So last night I threw my first, of what I can only assume will be many, farewell parties for a friend! I don’t like goodbyes, to quote Rory Gilmore, “It is a poorly named ritual.” But alas they are a part of life, and especially of military life. This is not the first one of my Army wife friends to move away, but it is the first one we’ve known about in time to plan a time to get together and send each other off into the next phase of our lives! As much as a regularity saying goodbye is in the military life, I don’t think that means it will ever get easier. And that is probably a good thing, means we are humans with a heart, and It means we didn’t become a recluse. Friendships are important, and deserve to be celebrated! Hoping that the military community really is as small as everyone seems to says, and we run into each other again! More about military friendships.
While I don’t like good byes, I love to host! And I especially love to host around the holidays! So when my friend and I decided that a farewell party was in order, I eagerly volunteered to host! I think one of my favorite things about hosting is all the delicious food I can make (that my husband won’t eat, so I never make), and an excuse to use all my pretty serving ware that we were given at the wedding, and that I purchased as a result of my obsession with T.J. MAXX! I also love ornaments and so my favorite holiday party idea is an ornament exchange! Here is the ornament I bought, and the one I got!
No party is complete without a wonderful cheese dish and dessert! So I am going to give you my recipe for salted caramel apple pie & peach, bacon, and basil baked brie! You can never go wrong with either dish, no matter the occasion! So without further ado follow the links above to find the recipe for each!
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times with the same person
Such a beautiful and wonderful quote; and something I think we all start out striving for. But lets me honest, it is a lot easier to fall in love with a person who is present, one that is there when you wake up and fall asleep, home for dinner, who is there to help put the kids to bed and someone who can help around the house. A partner because that is what a marriage is, a partnership. But enter military life, and suddenly that does not always happen. There are lots of separations in military life: i.e. deployments, trainings, TDYs, field time; and they are never there in the mornings because of PT. And suddenly, because of that we become incredible self-sufficient, which don’t get me wrong is not a bad thing. But when we become so self-sufficient, it can begin to interfere with the romance. Sure everyone thinks having a military relationship is so romantic with the grand homecomings after long absences. But what you don’t realize until you live it, is that it is never as romantic as it seems. It can be hard to keep the romance alive after that first initial homecoming.
So how do you keep the romance alive in your military marriage
1. Communicate Whenever You Can, However You Can: Sometimes all we have are letters, sometimes we can Facetime, Skype, text, call each other. Regardless of what methods are available to you, utilize them. Don’t just send letters or emails, include pictures of you and what you are doing. This goes both ways. By sharing pictures, you can continue to feel connected to each other and what each other are doing. Whether you think it’s exciting or not, they will feel grateful that you thought of them and want to share what you are doing with them
2. Make Your Time Together Intentional When you are together, make sure you are intentionally seeking to spend time with your spouse, don’t just spend your time haphazardly. Intentionally seeking your spouse means making a specific effort to work on your relationship at a certain time. All interactions should be intentional, but they rarely are, when time is limited this is even more crucial to keeping the relationship healthy and stoking the fires. When my husband was doing a lot of field training he was gone most days of the week for several months, and only home on weekends. I was intentional of not making plans with friends to be away while he was home. We spent that time together as a couple. Being intentional with the time we had together allowed us to keep romance alive during those months.
3. Be Creative Expressing Intimacy to your Spouse When you are together all the time, there are easy, common ways to express intimacy towards your spouse. But keeping it alive is a bit more difficult. Now I am not suggesting you send racy photos to your spouse (especially if they are deployed as you never know who is monitoring packages or internet lines). If you want to send them that’s your choice, just be careful! However, there are other ways to creatively share. Tell your spouse what specifically you miss about him/her. “When I see you I want to ____.” This will help you feel connected to each other even if it’s just via letters. Send cards, not just letters. The sky is really the limit in how you are creative with each other.
4. Always Be Willing to Learn Being apart means that there are going to be things ya’ll don’t know about each other. Even if you talk every day, the chances that you share everything, every day, are so slim. You are both going to have experiences the other won’t and it will change and affect you both differently. So when you are back together, be willing to continue learning about each other. As you learn more about each other, it will continue to build intimacy in your relationship.
5. Surprise Each Other Now, I know physically surprising each other in person is not always possible; especially if they are separated from you for military reasons. But send them something, maybe he really loves video games and a new one came out, beat him to the punch and send it to him. You are going to miss your anniversary together, send her flowers. It doesn’t have to be anything large or extravagant. Small surprises like a box of his favorite Christmas cookies if he is going to be deployed during the holidays, say a lot.
So whether you see each other once a week or are separated for months at a time you can use these 5 ideas to help you maintain the romantic spark in your relationship. What are your creative ways to stay connected to your spouse across the distance?
A friend, and fellow MilSpouse said it best, “Alpha, Foxtrot, What?!?!” I could not agree more. From military time, to the phonetic alphabet, to all their damn acronyms the military culture is certainly unique. And unless you are entrenched in it before you get married; extremely confusing ad overwhelming. Now having only been married to the military for a year, I am not going to pretend to be an expert. I am still sitting over here wishing that google translator had a military option! But I have picked up a few things over the last couple months of living on Fort Benning that have been extremely helpful.
When I first got here the only person I knew was my husband, and as he was in training he spent most of his days (and nights) sleeping out under the stars in the field. So he was not a lot of help in making the transition. Thankfully he has passed that phase for now and is home most of the time. But while he was gone I had to do some improvising. So what to do when you are overwhelmed by the military life culture. Well first I Google. “oh are you going to the FRG?” Ummm hold on let me consult my personal assistant, a.k.a. Hi google, “what is FRG?” Google: FRG stands for Family Readiness Group, the place for spouses to gather that is based on your spouses’ Unit. It is typically headed by the Commander’s wife. If your spouse is deployed this is where you would get information regarding your husband movements. They host coffee groups which are social gatherings. Google can be a serious life saver; any acronym someone throws at you, just O.K. Google! And, depending on your internet connection, you can have it within seconds.
Do not be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t know something you are not going to learn by nodding your head, and pretending you understand without piping up and saying so. The one thing I have learned so far is that most people in the military world pay little attention to how new you are to post (in case you didn’t know, that is what Army people call a base or fort), and will proceed with acronyms galore in their conversations. Asking for help is absolutely ok, nobody is going to judge you for it, I promise. It will probably make the person you are asking feel good that they are able to help you out. So ask, it’s the only way to learn, other than google!
Also, a couple of really well known Military Spouse Bloggers, J.D. Collins from Semi-Delicate Balance, Jo, My Gosh, and Lauren Tamm from The Military Wife & Mom, wrote an e-book called the “Modern Military Spouse”. It has everything you would ever want to know about Military life and culture. It even has a handy Acronym Dictionary in the back! (This post is not in any way endorsed by them, I am simply passing along information about a tool that I found invaluable in starting my journey as a military spouse.) You can find it here: http://jomygosh.com/the-modern-military-spouse/
Now I know I am one of the lucky ones this holiday season. For Thanksgiving we will get to be with my husband’s family, all of them; and then for Christmas this year we get to head and see my family. But I know for a lot of people in the military community separated far from home and for everyone else far from home getting back to family becomes difficult, tricky, and expensive. But I have had to weather holidays alone without my family as well. In fact, this is the first Christmas in two years that I will get to spend it with my parents, and I couldn’t be more excited. I know the longing of wanting to be home and yet for whatever reason being so far away. So what do you do with those feelings of loneliness, sadness, disappointment, and maybe even anger that results from missing your traditional time?
I know it is hard, but I would say first embrace the different opportunities to experience the holidays. Of course, we are always going to think our own traditional ways is the best possible way to celebrate. But if we just take a chance on something new we might discover something really wonderful. For me, my parents have lived in Hawaii ever since I was in high school, going to visit them at Christmas was such a wonderful break from the cold weather and two extra weeks at the beach I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Christmas day often meant another day at the beach, and a glorious tan! This will be my husband’s first trip there for Christmas, he can no more imagine a Christmas on the beach than I can a snowy white Christmas. Accepting that neither of these are wrong viewpoints helps decrease the frustration for the person missing their normal.
One thing we are doing this thanksgiving is co-hosting a Friendsgiving celebration right where we are as a way to celebrate! And for the first time ever I am responsible for making the turkey, that’s a first for me! And I have to say I think I was pretty successful! (Just take a look at my pretty turkey in the picture above!) Spending the time you would normally spend with your family with friends is a great way to get out of that lonely holiday funk! It provides distraction from your situation and provides a place for you get out and make new experience instead of sitting at home dwelling on all the things you are missing! Who knows you might come away with some amazing recipes! I know I sure did this year!
"Hurry up and wait," was not a phrase I was all too familiar with prior to getting married, yet sometime I now feel like it's my life anthem. In the last couple months I have gotten all geared up for one possibility or another only for them to all be for not. And here are again gearing up for a change only to get so far and now we wait again.
But waiting is not my strong suit. I am impatient, I want things done and I want them done now. And clearly the Army does not cater to me, how dare they!
But waiting for the Army to tell us the next move means waiting on more than just for the next move. It means waiting to find the perfect job, finding the perfect house, making plans for the future. And that's hard for me. I like to be in control of my life and this has left me feeling completely out of control as I hurry up and wait.
If I don't learn how to be content and happy right where I am in life now, it's going to be a long military career for us. I will be setting myself up for a lot of disappointment and will make my husband crazy in the process trying to please me despite his career.
So how am I learning to be content and waiting for the future. The answer is very slowly and not very gracefully if we are being honest with each other! Thankfully I have a husband that has endless grace for me when I am not patient. But, what I have learned is that I need to have more grace for myself in that it's ok for me to get my hopes up and dream about our future, and that disappointments are okay. However, what we do with those disappointments is more important. By owning our disappointments and monitoring our reactions we can learn to be content in our current situation.
For me, knowing that our joy does not come from within but is a gift from the Lord is the biggest reminder of how to be content in my current situation. I know it's not my timing but the Lord is in charge, even when it feels like it's the military. Relying on him to supply our joy in times of difficulty and disappointment makes all the difference in the world. So no matter what circumstances we are in I will continue to "hurry up and wait," for the blessings that the Lord has in store for us!
Today is Veteran's day, an all important day that we as Americans take to give thanks and honor those men and women who have and are currently bravely defending our great country. I can think of no group of people more deserving of our thanks.
I didn't grow up in a military family, I knew my grandfathers both served in WWII and a couple uncles who had served in the past, but it was not a large part of my family history, like it will be for our future children.
However as I flipped through my Timehop app this morning I noticed that ever since high school I had taken the opportunity to thank the veterans in my life and those all around the country. Without them who knows where we would be today! And I am grateful that we do not have to find out.
Over the last couple years Veteran's day has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I am now married to an active duty Army service member. I am so proud of him and his accomplishments. And yet he is so humble. He does not view his job as needing special thanks. And neither do most other soldiers I have met since marrying into the military. They do it because it's the job they choose like being an accountant or lawyer or any other professional. If they were in it simply for recognition they would never make it through the rigorous training, demanding work schedule, and constantly being on call 24/7.
That is why I think they deserve even more honor and respect and especially our thanks even if it's just once a year. These humble men and women may have to make the ultimate sacrifice for our safety, and freedom and they want nothing in return. But even so extend your hand and today thank a veteran in your life; even if they say they do not deserve it because they absolutely do!