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!

Wellness Challenge Part 3: When Making Friends in the Military is Hard

When Making Friends in the Military is Hard

So far we have covered, marriage, mental wellness, and now onto friendships. As a marital relationship, friendships  also contribute to over all well being. 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 discouraging 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:

  1. Celebrate the friendships
  2. Its ok to be sad they are leaving
  3. Make sure to spend some time together before they leave if possible

Finding Community
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 extroverted, 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?

Making friends can be hard. Especially when you move around every few years, and so does everyone else around you! Here are some great ways to motivate yourself to get out of the bubble!

And don’t forget to check out Week 1 and Week 2 here!

5 Ways to Keep the Interest Alive In a Long Distance Relationship

Are you in a long distance relationship or spend a lot of time apart? Here is how you can keep the romantic spark alive even when you spend a lot of time apart!

“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 (or long distance) 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?
 As Military Couples we find outselves separated a lot.  Here are my top 5 ways to keep the interest alive in a long distance relatioship

Welcome to Army Life: Learning a Whole New Lingo

Welcome Army Life: Learning a Whole New Language

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.

Ask For Help

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!

Find Good Resources

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/

The Art of Learning to be Content Where You Are

The Art of Learning to be Content Where you Are

“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!

How are you learning to be content where you are in life?

The Art of Learning to be Content Where you are