Military Spouse Appreciation: It takes a Village

There is no way we could do this all on our own, even when we can't find the courage to ask for help, someone will always be there to help. A true testament to it takes a village

“It Takes A Village”

We have all heard this phrase in reference to raising children, but I am here to tell you it has wider application.

As some of my regular readers know I have been going through quite the moving process, and like all good military moves it involved 4 months of hurry up and wait, and then 2 weeks to get it all done (and no I am absolutely not exaggerating!). My husband received orders to Korea for the fall, in February this year. While he is gone for the year we decided the best thing to do was to go live with my family. But of course because my family lives in Hawaii it caused all sorts of issues because that’s OCONUS. So after 8 weeks (that’s right it took eight weeks to get 5(maybe?) signatures) we finally have permission for me to go live with mom and dad!

Only here is the catch the day we got the exemption to come through was less than 10 days out from my husband’s report date!!!!!!!

And here is where it comes to it takes a village! I am now fully responsible for being present during 4 days of movers and packers (because out stuff is going three different places!) because my husband has to leave before they were able to schedule movers because it was such a tight turn around. And then after the four day pack out I get to deep clean our apartment so we can get our security deposit back.

While as you know from a couple weeks ago that I am the one used to being on the move, I have never packed up a fully furnished house on my own in less than a week! But you know what? I have been blessed to be part of an amazing community here. One that always has a hand out offering assistance however they know how. Whether its taking my dog to be out of the way of movers, letting me crash at their house when the movers take my bed. Lending me cleaning supplies to get my apartment inspection ready!

There have been points over the last couple weeks that I have been so stressed that I literally just sit on my couch, watching Gilmore Girls, making endless lists in my notebook, constantly checking and rechecking Facebook and Pinterest but so unable to get up and actually tackle anything off my lengthy to-do list.

Thankfully I have some wonderful ladies in my life who have stepped in and helped me realized how capable I am of taking care of business. By stepping in to take one thing off my plate, like offering to take my puppy for the day so I don’t have to stress about boarding her, or telling me I don’t have to worry about taking apart my bed frame before the movers get here, or just giving me a lovely bouquet of flowers or thank you gift, and encouraging texts to lift my spirits. Even the cyber-space community has been there when I reached out looking for guest posts (Get ready to hear from Rachel next week!) so that I can check one more thing off my list in these crazy weeks.

While I am always the first to offer help in any situation, I am rarely quick to ask for help when I need it. I would rather try to tackle it on my own without burdening anyone else. While Military Spouse Appreciation day was last week, I think the lovely ladies in this community that has rallied around each other deserves much more than just one day of appreciation because we wouldn’t make it through this crazy life without each other.

How my Puppy Eased my Transition to being a Military Spouse

There were so many times I was lonely in a new city, by my sweet puppy helped ease me into the transition!

“A dog is man’s best friends”

Well I don’t know about all dogs, but my Lucy truly has been my biggest comfort. I had just moved to a new city and state. And to top it all off my husband spent more days in the field than he did at home. I have seen a lot of people talk about how having a pet can be a grounding for a military child. But I haven’t seen much about how comforting a pet can be to the spouses who are constantly moving around.

I am sure if you follow me on any social media, have seen pictures of my sweet Lucy. Before we got her I had wanted a puppy for months! But I was still in school so it had to wait! But as soon as I graduated we were going to get that puppy! I was determined! Although there was a lot of disagreement about what kind of puppy to get. My husband wanted one that would grow up to be a monster, a horse our children could ride! I wanted what he called, an ankle biter, or as I called it the most adorable things ever!

Anyway, by chance I found the sweetest little thing, and she needed a home! And we gave her a home! Just look at her, how could you not!

Anyways, Lucy is absolutely my buddy, according to my husband she pouts and mopes when I leave the house. She is my best cuddle buddy! And when my husband had all those long weeks in the field, I had a friend. I was not used to being alone, I had lived with roommates before I came here, and was so busy I was rarely home. Now I am in Columbus, living with my husband, who for a while was barely home, with no where to go! Thank goodness for Lucy!

Not only did she keep me company when I didn’t have anyone else around to listen to me! But also because having a puppy was such a great way to get out of the house and meet new people. Having Lucy made me get out of the house. We don’t have a backyard so the only way for her to get out is to take her for a walk or to the park. She is little bundle of endless energy! Lucy is destructive when she doesn’t get out to play! And she has destroyed every “indestructible” toy in 30 minutes tops!

So here is how my puppy helped me ease into being a Military Wife

She forced me out of my comfort zone.

I had never had a dog before, I grew up with cats and hamsters (which my children will never get!!). So first she forced me to stay at home instead of traveling back to South Carolina. If I didn’t have Lucy it would have been so easy for me to just drive back to Columbia or Charleston each week while my husband was gone. But traveling with a dog is much more work! Being in a position that I was “forced” to stay at Benning gave me the opportunity to meet friends that I will have forever now!

She got me out of the house.

I could have stayed on the couch watching Gossip Girl, Friends, Gilmore Girls, and One Tree Hill forever. I have discovered that having a puppy in a way is like having kids, by making a “date” to go to the dog park with another lady the dogs give us an excuse to get out and get to know each other better! Going hiking together worked the same way. It got me out of the house and interacting with real people. And she is definitely a dog that needs to get out of the house, the only indestructible toy I have bought this year she hasn’t destroyed is the KONG Extreme Dog Toy!

She gave me company.

I am one of those pet parents that talk to my dog. In general I am a chatty person so living “alone” is not my forte. I love being around other people. So while I wasn’t exactly with other people I was at least able to talk to her, cuddle with her and play with her while I was at home instead of just twiddling my thumbs.

She comforted me.

As we all know dogs can be really attuned to people’s emotions. That is why they make such great service and therapy animals. While obviously Lucy is just a puppy, and she is far from trained she is attuned to me and can easily read when I am feeling sad, angry and happy. When I was home by myself and feeling lonely and sad, without any prompting Lucy would run and hop on the couch. She gives such great cuddles.

And finally,

She gave me a purpose.

Once the boxes were unpacked and the house set up and decorated I was feeling a bit lost in my purpose. I was a wife without a husband at home to serve; and I didn’t know what to do with that. But enter Lucy. It was my responsibility to feed her, love her, and train her. I wasn’t the best trainer by any means, but she can do all the basic things!

See so as grounding as a pet can be for military kids, I think they can absolutely ease the transition into being a military spouse just the same. Dogs and puppies make wonderful companions and can teach us so much! So if you are looking for one more reason to get a pet, here are five!!

Lucy is my best friend sometimes and as I prepare to spend a year away from my husband there isn’t anything I won’t do to get this dog to Hawaii with me! My in laws graciously offered to host her for the year I was gone, but I just can’t be away from that sweet thing for that long! The month at Christmas was hard enough!!

How has your pet helped you make it through the crazy ride of military life.

Being a military spouse is hard, starting over in every new city. But my sweet puppy helped me ease into this transition!

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Never Stop Dreaming: My New Vision of Future

Never stop Dreaming. Life requires adjustments! Nothing is written in stone and plans change! IF we are flexible we can make the best out of every situation

 

If you read my Vision of Future letter to myself a few weeks ago, one of my final points was that this will be a fluid letter. There will be changes to it as a life is not static. Just after I attended the workshop I received a phone call from my husband. The army has finally given him new orders to his next assignment. Unfortunately, this news causes many changes to my Vision for the Future. So we need to keep on dreaming, finding new ways to accomplish our dreams!

So because well Army… I am going to share my revised Vision of Future with you as well! So of course, as soon as I finished my plan it has been foiled. Such as life, or at least military life! Here it goes:

Dear Me,

Well as with most things, my plans have changed. This Christmas eve is one spent apart from my husband. But at least I am getting another Christmas with my parents. In fact, I am getting much more than just another holiday with them. With my hubby in Korea I get to spend the whole year with my parents. I haven’t spent that much time (or more than two weeks) with them since I was 17 years old!

Clearly if I am in Hawaii there is no fire in the fire place. And while I my hubby and I are not cuddling on the couch to a Christmas movie, there are at least still puppy cuddles. She better know how much I love her for all the trouble it was for me to get her here. Any who I diverge.

But family life isn’t the only thing that has changed due to some of this news. Moving to Hawaii is another obstacle to getting my counseling license. Unfortunately, Hawaii requires a different licensing exam and those tests aren’t exactly affordable if you aren’t going to be able to finish the license. Plus, not too many states use that license either. It is just one more step farther away to become a professional counselor. So, I have been taking a good long hard look at what I want my career to be.

So, I have taken the first steps to turning my blog into a business. I bought and set up my own website. It has been such a fun and stressful process. I have developed components necessary moving forward. Also, because I have never taken a business class in my life I signed up for Kayla Roof’s Work from Anywhere Academy! I am so excited to learn all about this new business venture. I am also trying to figure out how to become a parenting coach. So many exciting things to come.

So, for now I will close this addendum so that I can pack (read contemplating packing). I am sure there will be more updates to come. So, until then.

Love,

Me

Life requires adjustments! Nothing is written in stone and plans change! IF we are flexible we can make the best out of every situation

Taking a Leap of Faith

Taking a leap of faith can be scary, but so rewarding. Looking to take a step of faith but not knowing what to do next? Check out here my plan for reducing vulnerability when taking a leap of faith

In the last few weeks I have taken a huge lead of faith, and it definitely was not easy. My lead of faith was making an investment in my blog, a few actually. This is the first time I have spent money on my blog since starting it July 2016! But we have all been in a place where we have to make a choice – stay where we are OR jump and take that leap of faith in hopes of reaching something even greater! My leap of faith was moving from a free site to a purchasing my domain name and becoming self-hosted, investing in some branding images and purchasing planning resources! This is the first move I made towards making my blog a business. I am so nervous, but also excited! And you too can take the leap of faith.

The first step towards taking that leap of faith is having faith in yourself. It is hardest to have faith in yourself and your own abilities. When my husband has a challenge at work I am always confident he will overcome it. When my friends are job hunting, I am always sure they will find the perfect job. But for some reason I struggle to have the same enthusiastic confidence in myself. I know I am not alone! I have talked to many people who struggle to have faith and confidence in themselves. But if our goal is to be happy and healthy people, we need to be confident people. Not afraid to step out and take a risk. So how do we get there and grow in our own confidence?

The short and simple answer is practice; but that is not very helpful. Practicing vulnerability sounds like a terrible idea to most people, myself included. Putting ourselves out there with no plan to succeed is frightening. And I am with you, I wouldn’t want to do that either. BUT what if I proposed another solution. One with a plan, a plan to succeed when you take that leap of faith.

Here is my guide for growing in confidence in order to take that leap of faith!

Finding someone who believes in you

            Let their encouragement build you up. I am sure you have noticed changes in yourself based on the mood of those around you. When you surround yourself with positive people who believe in your. Then we can feed off of that as we begin to belive it. In trying ti get my blog going, the person who believed in me has been my husband, encouraging me along the way.

Make a Plan

We don’t like to take a step ad feel like we don’t know what is next. Taking a leap of faith can be like that. But that doesn’t mean we have to go in blind. So what do you want to accomplish with your leap of faith? Build a business? Go back to school? Take your relationship to the next level? Grow your family? Move far away? Whatever that leap is for you what do you want to happen next? I would love to grow tis blog into a business. Why? Because I got into the business of counseling to change people’s lives. I think I can do that here too. So here is my plan to do so. By starting my own website, I open myself up for the opportunity to become a business. I plan to find adds and sponsored posts. By earing money, I can invest more into my blog and continue to grow it. I am taking that leap of faith, but I am not doing it blindly.

Evaluate & Readjust

So we’ve surrounded ourselves with people who believe in us, gained enough confidence and we have made a plan. So now it is time to take the leap! You can do it!! Now we have to ask if we are accomplishing what we set out to! Are we meeting our goals? If not, what can we do about it? My goals for myself when I bought and created my website was to make back the $40 I invested! Hopefully even make a little more than that so I can continue to pay for it next year. As I am still in the building phase I am not ready to re-evaluate yet, but I am hoping by the 3 month mark I can start monetizing. Then I will check inn again at 6, 9, and 12 month markers. If I don’t think I am making enough I will adjust my strategy for marketing.

I know it is scary. I worry all the time whether I am going to reach my goal but for now I am just going to be excited that my website works and is up and running. So celebrate the small wins every day! Remember with big risk comes big reward. And it is not called a leap of faith for nothing! You can do it! I believe in you

What are some ways you have found to help you take that leap of faith?

Deciding to take a leap of faith can be a hard thing to do. It leaves us vulnerable to our fears. Here are some ways to grow in confidence and feel more secure in your vulnerabilities when taking that leap of faith

My Experience with a PCS Nightmare

My PCS Nightmare on the www.ArmyWifeNetwork.com: Learning from my Mistakes!

My PCS Nightmare on the www.ArmyWifeNetwork.com: Learning from my Mistakes!So my first Army move wasn’t exactly smooth! I was in school up until the day I moved! ( I graduated Saturday morning, picked up and loaded the moving truck Saturday afternoon, and moved on Sunday!) So I didn’t have a lot of time to pack, plus because in the Army’s eyes we had already moved there – my husband had to be there 6 months before me! So I knew we weren’t going to be reimbursed any of the expenses, and being a broke student I didn’t want to waste m precious money on boxes! Well a move without boxes as you can imagine!

Read the whole story here over at the Army Wife Network!

Here is to hoping my next PCS is more successful! What are some of your PCS horror stories?

Goodbyes Never Get Easier

Saying goodbye never gets easier, whether its you husband, family, or friends.

So I actually had all my posts planned out through April already, but today I had a moment that I feel like I really wanted to share with everyone. Now if you are judging by the title, you most likely think that I am going to be talking about saying goodbye to my hubby.

This month I am saying good bye to all the friends I have made here at Fort Benning. EVERY SINGLE ONE!!! How does that even happen?? And we aren’t going anywhere for another two months, which still isn’t very long.

Somehow we start to believe that the only goodbyes we say are to our spouses; we forget about the family and the friends we leave behind at every move. I am sure many of ya’ll have watched the wildly popular show, Army Wives. Throughout the entire show none of them moved away from each other in 7 WHOLE seasons! This is so not reality.

When you are the one moving away there is a sense of closure, you make all the preparations. And so when you have to say goodbye to your friends it doesn’t seem so hard. But when you are the one being left behind its different. And to be the last one in your group of 5 plus friends makes it even more hard, there is no easing into it, when all your friends leave in a two week period.

So what do you do when you are the last one left?

Enjoy your last moments together.

Throw one last great bbq, drinks and dinner downtown, trips to the dog park. Whatever it is that ya’ll like to do together; do it and do it often! While we never know when we might run into them again in this crazy military journey, it might be years! But enjoy the time you have left together.

Remember it is ok to be sad.

Just because its a part of military life to be in constant flux, doesn’t mean that we aren’t allowed to have emotions in response to our situations. The phrase, Embrace the Suck, was invented for a reason! Never feel guilty for your emotions, own them and acknowledge them. We never need to apologize our emotions! When we embrace our emotions we are able to better deal with them and move on. It is when we deny our emotions that we become stuck. So let yourself feel sad, cry if you are a crier.

Its going to be ok.

As hard as it can be to make new friends, remember you’ve done it before and you can do it again. It is one of the hallmarks of a resilient military spouse, the ability to adapt. You will make new friends, eventually you will move too. No matter how sad you are now when all your friends are leaving, its going to be ok because you are incredibly strong!

Put yourself back out there, even when you don’t want to.

Right now I can’t imagine putting myself out there like I did when I first got here. It is hard to motivate yourself to put a 110% effort into making new friends, when I know I am moving in two months. I mean I am going to keep going to all my regular activities like the dog park, yoga, and PWOC. But I just don’t know how much effort I could put into making more friendships.

Saying goodbyes are hard. But you know what, we are strong wonderful people! We will always find friends. I think that is one of the blessings of military life. There is always a built in community, you just have to put a little bit of effort into finding it. This means that even when our friends leave, we just need to find ways to plug into our communities – PWOC, the FRG group, book clubs, workout groups.

Saying goodbye is hard, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t let anyone tell you you shouldn’t be upset when your friends leave just because you knew what you were getting yourself into.

What are your best tips for saying goodbye to friends when they PCS?

Saying goodbye never gets easier, no matter if your husband, family, or friends

TO THE SPOUSE WHO IS ALSO A STUDENT…

An open letter to all spouses who are also students. From someone who has been there and made it through

An open letter to all spouses, military or not, that are in another phase of life, being a student, all while being married. Often we think we go to school, we graduate, we find a job and we get married. Sometimes it works that way, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you go back to school. But as all of us students know school can be all consuming, and can prevent us from being the spouse we were maybe before school or what we desire to be. But know that its ok, and no matter what its ok.

See my open letter to the spouse who is also a student, from one who has been there and made it to the other side.

What advice would you share??

The Military Spouse’s Guide to Embracing the Suck

Life can be sucky sometimes. But don't worry there are ways to keep plugging along embracing life to the fullest!

I was looking back at my content. It has been a while since I have written something specific to being a military wife. I think it’s because our situation is so stagnant right now I didn’t know what else to write about- no PCS’s in the works, no deployments, no anything. And I have already written about most of my other Army Experiences. We know we are leaving Benning in the next few months, but we don’t know when and we don’t know where, but we know things are a changing! But until they tell us we are just hanging out, waiting, in a holding pattern.

Also I have been focusing on writing some guest posts for military specific blogs so a lot of my ideas went there! But as we get more pieces of the plan, not all of it has been great, and some of it down right sucks! When I talk to friends outside the military, the phrase I am greeted by over and over is, “that sucks!” Whether it’s in response to I haven’t talked to my spouse all week, he is in the field; we can’t make a plan for more than a week or two out; deployments, or whatever! I am reminded as a good military spouses and soldiers, we are supposed to suck it up and embrace the suck.

Embracing the Suck, I think this is one of my least favorite phrases associated with the Army. The phrase itself sucks, if I do say so myself! Why does Army, or any military life for that matter, have to be so negative that we need to saying just convince people that its ok it’s negative. Why aren’t we working on making it more positive?  Well first, change requires that the system wants to be changed, or enough people call for change. Well since neither of those two things have happened yet, we need to find ways to embrace the suck, get better at waiting, and not just survive military life, but truly thrive!

So here are my tips on how to embrace the suck, Military Spouse Style, so that it doesn’t have to suck anymore, because none of us deserve to live a life full of suck, we deserve the life we want- full, vibrant, and beautiful!

Embrace the suck by making the most of every situation.

While we maybe in an awful, undesirably long holding pattern, I am grateful that at least my husband is home with me. As we all know in military life, this is not always the case. Over the spring and summer, my husband was gone in the field 12 out of 14 weeks. But for now we are together and that is enough!

Knowing that its ok for you to think it sucks.

Just because you are supposed to embrace the suck doesn’t mean it doesn’t actually suck. In fact, it does often just as much for our service member spouses as it does for us! In my current situation, so many of my friends are sending or have already sent their spouses to Ranger School! While my hubby didn’t get to go to ranger school (read his injury prevented it – although he isn’t torn up about it!) I have watched so many of my friends and clients face this. Embracing the suck doesn’t mean ignoring or denying the suck! It sucks and its ok to say so!

Lean in all the way. 

If you know that you can make the suck go away faster by working harder and getting it done, then work as hard as you can and get it done. Obviously this doesn’t work for everyone – deployments don’t get cut short if you work extra hard, no matter how early you start prepping for that PCS the date won’t get moved up (ok well it might, but not just because you are all set!). But sometimes it does – like when it comes to unpacking after the PCS. Unpacking can definitely suck especially if your furniture doesn’t fit like you want or you don’t have enough curtains for this house! If you just stay focused you can get done quicker!

Find a friend

Embracing the suck requires a team effort! We can’t do it on our own. Some might argue with me on this point but I have written several posts about the importance of community and making friends. To me it is Mission Critical to have a few good friends you can really rely on to be there for you! As much as we rely on our spouse to help us get through these sucky periods, they are not always there – because mission comes first. Besides who else shows up with wine and chocolate after those kind of days!

So you see, it’s possible to Embrace the suck! It takes time and its ok to throw ourselves a pity party! But after that we can put our big girl panties on and trudge alone! If you are struggling to trudge on check out my 15 Healthy Coping skills here!

How do you embrace the suck?

Life can be sucky sometimes. But don't worry there are ways to keep plugging along embracing life to the fullest!

Too Young to be Married they Said

Too Young to b Married they said, But I have loved every bit of our life!

I was 23 when we got married, my husband was 22. Now at almost 25, still many of my friends are not married. Leading up to the wedding, I can’t count how many times I heard, “you are too young to be getting married.” Most were  just incredulous that I am now an adult. But, really did think we were too young to get married. “Why rush?” they would say?  I never thought I was in a rush. This was just how life was progressing for us. After all, my parents were my age when they got married. We had both graduated from college, I was finishing up graduate school, he was about to leave for Fort Benning. Although let’s be real, the military did not make it easy to slow down either. So what was I to do with all these well intended people that might as well been saying, you’re making a huge mistake. But here I am just after our first wedding anniversary and I can’t imagine this being a mistake.

I have always been told that I am one of those people that are easily swayed by what people say. I like for others to think well of me, I constantly worry about what people might or might not be saying about me. So I was a bit surprised at myself that I couldn’t find any anxiety in me when people would tell me I was too young. Maybe it’s because all the anxiety I could muster at the time was being thrown at my school work. Or maybe it’s because I finally realized that despite what people said about me and our relationship it wasn’t going to affect me. Why wait if I knew this was the person I wanted to spend my life with? What did it matter to Joe Schmoe when I got married? That’s right, it doesn’t.

So here is what I have learned about marrying young!

1.We can’t compare ourselves to the other people around you!

Just because we are doing something different doesn’t make me right and them wrong. When we compare ourselves to others we often find ourselves in discontent. Like the saying “You do You” We have to do what works for us. Most of my friends who are in relationships are content to wait for a while before getting married, due to being in the military, that wasn’t going to work for us or else I couldn’t move with him. But marriage works for us!

2.We get to experience so much together!

I have a friend who is almost 30 and celebrated her 1st wedding anniversary a few weeks before B and I did! When we talk she always wishes they had met earlier and were married younger so they could have had that time together. I will be 25 when we celebrate our 2nd anniversary! We have so much to do together!

3.Less comparison between partners!

While my marriage was not my first relationship it was really my first adult relationship. I don’t get caught in the trap of comparing B to past boyfriends or relationships. And neither does he! It makes our lives so much smoother!

4.Regardless of how old we are; we get to spend our lives together!

No matter how old or young you are when you get married, the best part is getting to spend all my life with B! We get to do all the parts of having a family, being a family, and building a family. We get to adventure and make new memories, we get to have all the experiences, we get the highs and lows of being together.

As I reflect on age and marriage, to me maturity is more important than age. Age is a number that might not reflect a lot! But having a mature spirit, forgiving and gracious and a loving heart is all that is needed to make the marriage work, a lifelong commitment to one another, I made that commitment at 23! And I couldn’t be more happy with how my life is!

Too young to be married they told me, but I have loved every minute and wouldn't change it!

Don’t Miss My Work on the Army Wife Network: Supporting your Husband

On the ArmyWifeNetwork.com How to Support your Husband when he is Angry at the Military Pt 1 & 2

On the ArmyWifeNetwork.com How to Support your Husband when he is Angry at the Military Pt 1 & 2As ya’ll know from my earlier post last year I started as a contributor to the Army Wife Network Experience Blog. This is something I have enjoyed. Getting to share my experience as an Army Wife with others is something that I love, because I wish I had known more people to ask before I became a full time Active Duty Army Wife! I the last year I have learned so much and made such great friends and mentors that I feel like I now have enough experiences to share back!

The last few months for our family has been periods of loving and hating the Army, as I am sure all Army spouses have experienced! With injuries and delays in paperwork we have been sitting without a plan for months, which only increases my hubby’s frustrations with the Army. He didn’t join to sit around and twiddle his thumbs all day!

I wanted to share with all of you what I wrote for them in my latest 2 part piece on Supporting your Husband when he is Angry at the Military! So follow the links to Part 1 and Part 2!