When is Anxiety more than just normal anxiety?

We all experience anxiety in our lives, its a normal reaction to difficult situations we face. But sometimes for some people anxiety goes beyond the normal levels, this is considered an anxiety disorder. Here are some easy ways to help determine if what you experience is normal or when you might need some more help in managing your anxiety.

Anxiety is a natural, and necessary part of life. Without it we would never feel pressured to get something done. There would be nothing lighting a fire under us to keep us moving. So, anxiety is a good thing. In fact, stress can be divided up into two components: distress – the negative kind of stress we all know and no so much love. And Eustress. Eustress is a good kind of stress; it is motivating. Without it we would get nowhere. But what happens when stress and anxiety begin to take over every inch of our life. We become paralyze by anxiety and so it keeps us stagnant in a constant state of worry and panic that no matter what we choose to do, something terrible will happen.

This is called an anxiety disorder- and there are several types: panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, and phobias. Having an anxiety disorder is totally different to experiencing anxiety. But so often we fail to realize the difference. We may experience a great deal of anxiety. For example, as military spouses we are constantly faced with anxiety: where is my husband? Is he safe? When will he get home? But unless the anxiety we feel from that uncertainty becomes crippling, we don’t really have an anxiety disorder.

And if we don’t begin to learn the difference between everyday anxiety and an anxiety disorders than those who need more help, will never go get it. In today’s society we have so normalized feeling anxious. We have anxious children, and we talk about being anxious over this or that. And for most people after the stressful event is over our anxiety is gone. But what about the rest of the people, the ones who are so anxious they can’t leave their house, even though from the outside it looks as though all things are clear? If we don’t talk about what it isn’t normal, then we will never know when we need help and how to get better. And it is so important to know when to get help; because anxiety disorders are 100% treatable.

This is not to make your fears and worries any less valid. Being a military spouse is hard and full of anxiety provoking events and we can learn to cope with that. In fact, if you are interested in learning more ways to reduce anxiety, I wrote a guest post here are my Top 10 Ways Military Spouses Can Reduce Anxiety.

Unfortunately, because of military life, military spouses are more likely than their civilian counterparts to being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. While anxiety disorders are treatable, we must recognize the difference between experiencing anxiety and having an anxiety disorder. So what are some signs and symptoms that you might be experiencing more than just anxiety?

The anxiety you feel…

  • … prevents you from leaving you house;
  • … prevents you from being able to make decisions;
  • … causes you to become isolated;
  • … avoiding all situations associated with anxiety (e.g. you quit running because the elevated heart rate reminds you of the way you feel when anxious);
  • … excessive fear or anxiety that is disproportionate to the event;
  • … evidence of avoidant behaviors- becoming isolated;
  • … last for more than six months;
  • … and, you find yourself fearful and worried even when nothing is wrong.

These are signs that maybe you need to get further help to manage your anxiety because it is more than just the normal stress we feel from day to day.

What to do if you think you have an Anxiety Disorder?

So now that we know what to look for, where do we turn when we believe we need help? Thankfully the military has lots of resources to help family members get the help they need. And most of these resources are free and confidential. One of my top recommendations are the Family Life Chaplains. These chaplains, unlike the unit chaplains, are trained as family counselors. Not only that but there is the added benefit of more confidentiality because they are removed from husband’s unit as they are centrally located typically to serve all units on a post.

If you are uncomfortable seeing a religious leader, Military Family Life Consultants (or MFLCs) are another wonderful, free, confidential service that is provided. They are independent contractors and are licensed clinical social workers or counselors. They don’t bill tri-care so no records are kept. These are the two I am most familiar with- however there is also behavioral health doctors who can help, especially if medication is required to manage your anxiety. Family Advocacy Program (FAP) also has many resources for families, but these do vary from post to post.

However you decide to seek help, no that you are not alone, so many military spouses struggle with anxiety, I mean it is hard not to with all the decisions we have to make for our families day in and day out.

We all experience anxiety in our lives, its a normal reaction to difficult situations we face. But sometimes for some people anxiety goes beyond the normal levels, this is considered an anxiety disorder. Here are some easy ways to help determine if what you experience is normal or when you might need some more help in managing your anxiety.

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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My Self Care “Tool Box”

Self-care is so beneficial and necessary to our well being. But it only works if we actually do it. Here is what is in my self care tool bx to help make self-care convenient

I have read 100’s of blog posts about self care – ways to care, checklists, why it’s important; and so many other great benefits about having self-care built into your schedule. But I know I am not the only one who finds it difficult to fit it into my day! As a counselor I was told constantly in my classes to practice good self-care.

I am constantly on the go, running from one place to another and so often caring for other people. This makes making self-care a priority hard for me. That is until I really saw how run down I had become; I was exhausted, irritable (just ask my husband), and ineffective at helping other people. But life is so busy, it doesn’t slow down just because you are exhausted. The key to making self-care a part of my routine was to make it convenient, take all my excuses away! So I created a self-care “tool box” Today I thought I would share what is in my tool box and why!

Nail polish & accessories –

Who doesn’t feel better after a mani/pedi. But being a student and a babysitter doesn’t pay enough to routinely get them done. So I decided to keep them neatly done myself, Essie nail polish is my favorite, and lasts the longest. Doing my nails myself is calming and relaxing for me. Plus, I feel so much more confident and pretty when my nails are done.

Coloring book & pencils –

Adult coloring books, like this one Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Animal Designs, are everywhere right now. Focusing on the colors and shapes can calm down emotions and physiological reactions to stress and anxiety. Coloring can help regain mental clarity when you are upset or overwhelmed.


Journal & pens –

Being able to get your feelings and emotions down on paper can relieve tension in the body. The physical release is beneficial because there are no more pent up feelings waiting to burst out.

My favorite music –

You know that feeling on a beautiful day driving around with the windows down, blaring your favorite song, singing at the top of your lungs? Its great isn’t it! Well not every day can be beautiful, but put on your favorite song and just belt our frustrations away!

Tissues –

It is ok to cry, healthy even. So if you’re mad, sad, exhausted, hurt or just need a good cry, just let it out! That is what tissues are for!

Some chocolate –

Chocolate after a good cry can feel so rejuvenating and help bring you back together. Now I am not advocating eating your feelings away, but chocolate has endorphins in it, and endorphins are a natural chemical in your body that helps create feelings of happiness. It can be a way to boost your spirits.

My phone –

Talking to my mom, dad, husband, or best friends can help me when I am feeling rundown. It helps remember I am not alone. Just because it is self-care doesn’t mean it can’t involve others. As long as it is boosting yourself!

Some bubble bath (or other spa like things) –

Again like getting your nails done, we can’t always make it (or afford) to go to the spa. But a home spa night can be relaxing too. Set up some candles, fill the tub, some quiet music, maybe a glass or wine or some chocolate, and a good book can relax the mind and the body. So get that lavender vanilla bubble bath and feel the stress melt away.

A good book –

Maybe it’s one you’ve read before, or a brand new book, but loosing yourself in a good book can do wonders. Reading lets you move out of yourself and open your imagination. Freeing your imagination can help you find new solutions to your every day stresses.

Doing something just for me –

Now this one might not fit in a box, but I love to craft, scrapbook or work on a DI project I have had pinned for ages. I love getting out my pictures and crafting supplies and just working. It makes me feel productive and satisfied with my results.

So these are my top 10 items in my self-care tool box. The idea is to keep everything together in one little box or bin so that it can be handy. Maybe you have a few minutes and so you pull out the journal or coloring book for a 15-minute mental break. However, you do it is up to you, because remember it is your self-care. Now take a lesson from me, and don’t wait till you are run down and exhausted to start taking part in self-care, do it now and do it often to help stay on top of your game! I promise it can make a huge difference in your outlook on life!

If you want to read more about self care see my guest post on reducing anxiety. Have a child that suffers from anxiety check out my post for reducing anxiety in children here.

What are some of your self-care go to’s?

Self-care is important, but often overlooked due to our demanding schedules at work and at home. Here are the contents of my self-care tool box that I use to make self-care convenient so I am more likely to use them.

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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

10 Ways to Help Anxious Children Calm Down

10 ways to reduce anxiety in kids pinnable image

As much as we adults get stressed out, so do our children! And military life provides lots of opportunities to create anxiety in our children- deployments, field time, training, frequent moves, changing schools, and constant fluctuation of friends. Or things such as adding new children to the family that many families face. As their parents, teachers, babysitters, or other family members we need to be prepared to help them calm down and relax when they are stressed and anxious.

Here are my top 10 tips for helping calm down when they are feeling stressed and anxious!

 

  • Blow Bubbles! Having a little kid sit there and just take deep breaths in and out can be hard, as most parents know! But blowing bubbles is so fun and cane help the child visualize the deep breaths by watching the bubbles.

  • We’ve all seen the pretty calm down jars like these ones! Watching the glitter move through the jar can still the child, which can have a calming effect, especially if the child is visually oriented in other tasks, such as learning.
  • Give them a big hug! Wrap your baby up and hold them tight. Knowing they are secure and safe in your arms can relieve a lot of anxiety for little ones.
  • Pop some bubble wrap. This is great for children who are kinesthetically oriented. Having something active, constructive, and nondestructive can help relieve anxiety. Doing something with your hands can help swap the mind from the emotionally over-charged center of the brain to the calmer logical part.
  • Coloring. We have all seen that adult coloring books are all the rage right now for decreasing anxiety, well if it works for us then it works for the little ones too! Sit down with them and spend some time coloring together. Maybe put some soothing music on in the background for an extra effect.
  • Put on their favorite Disney Jam and sing it out with them! Singing out loud has been shown to release endorphins, which lifts the mood! So have a dance party while you’re at it and shake those worries away!
  • Put the kiddos in a nice warm bubble bath and have them splash and play their worries away! What momma isn’t relaxed by a nice warm lavender vanilla bubble bath! This means what works for us, typically works for them. If you have more than one, and bath time is normally full of conflict, maybe bathe them one at a time tonight!
  • Got play-dough in the craft room? Give some to your kid and let them squish it between their fingers, roll it around. Playing with something in their hands can be a grounding effect. For people who suffer from panic or severe anxiety one of the most suggested ways to ground oneself is find things you can see, smell, touch, hear, taste. Squishy play-dough is something to feel.
  • Get some exercise in! Go for a bike ride, play tag, jump rope, just get outside and run around. Exercise in any form can release endorphins to have a calming effect.
  • If you notice that your kid still suffers from anxiety and have tried a variety of calming methods perhaps it is time to look into counseling. One of the main modes of therapy for kids is play therapy and incorporating expressive art therapy. Both of these modalities is helpful for children who struggle to express their feelings verbally or who express most feelings physically, in a more negative manner as it allows them to express their feelings in any form in a safe, contained area.

I hope you find these methods helpful in your household! I know the struggles of living with children with anxiety, as it often feeds our own anxiety which feeds theirs and we end up in a never ending cycle. These methods have been shown to break the cycle! If we can calm our children down it will reduce our own anxiety as well.

Military parents, we know how stressful military life though for our kids! Between deployments, PCSs and mom/dad coming and going, friends PCSing our kids are placed under so much stress! If you looking for great ways to help lead your children through these transitions hop over to my Military Parenting Page and check out my program coming soon: Parenting Coaching Designed specifically for Military Parents to address the unique concerns that we face with our children. Take a moment and sign up for updates and receive a FREE GIFT: Behavior Chart & an Easy How to Guide for Promoting Positive Behavior in our children.



What are the best methods you have found to help reduce anxiety and stress in your kiddos?

10 ways to reduce anxiety in kids

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Finding Yourself Somewhere you Never Expected to be: Being a Stay at Home Wife

Finding yourself somewhere you never expected to be. For me that is being a stay at home wife!

Have you ever found yourself somewhere you never planned to be? That is me right now. I always envision myself being a stay at home mom, when the time came. My mom was home with us till I was in the 8th grade; and I loved it as a kid! But I never envisioned myself as a stay at home wife. I always envisioned myself working towards a career for a few years before I turned to being a SAHM. Yet, here I am! Master’s degree in hand, in a state I can’t get a license in (For full story check out this post!) So I am a stay at home wife.

I know what some people might say about this. Some will call me lazy, unmotivated, free loader, and probably some worse things. Some might even be jealous that I don’t have that extra stress, pressure, and responsibility of a job AND kids. But it’s ok! It’s not like I sit at home all day napping and binge watching Netflix. Ok, you caught me, Netflix is on, but I am most likely doing something productive at the same time. In some ways this has been challenging for me. I am not working towards a career at the same rate my friends are; working in their field, gaining experience, and making contacts. This is the first time since I was like 16 that I don’t have a job and earning my own money! Sometimes I might even be a little jealous of them. Here are some of the blessings I have received and lessons I have learned being in a place I never expected to be!

I had time to spend with my Hubby

If I was working on my career, I would probably still be in South Carolina, separated from my husband because he would still be here in Georgia no matter what I chose to do. I wouldn’t have made some of the best friends I’ve made. And even though I am not working towards my career or counseling license, I have had doors open to me in the Army as a service provider through the Chaplains. But the best blessing is that these months have given my hubby and I wonderful adventures and opportunities to connect. If I had stayed in South Carolina to work on my counseling license we would have ended up spending two years apart as we are now facing a yearlong unaccompanied assignment. It makes me even more grateful for the time we have had together over the last few months!

Growing my faith to a Mustard Seed

It has also given me the opportunity to grow in my relationship with God. If I was working full time I wouldn’t have the flexible schedule to attend a weekly Bible study, as stuff for military spouses only seem to take place during the day when people with full time traditional careers are in the office. This has been awesome for me! Not only to grow in my faith but I have made friends and come closer to others during my time here.

Growing my Community

I have had the opportunity to meet other Army wives and families; and I have had time to spend connecting with them. Some have become mentors and friends as I am learning to navigate the complexities and weirdness Army life. I’d be lost without them. Some ladies I’ve met that are here and work full time have told me they feel like they are missing out because they don’t have the time to make those relationships. Also they typically are not working in their field. I know I am blessed to have this luxury of staying home. So I have worked to make the most of it!

Blogging on my Blogging Progress

I have had the time to start and grow this blog. At first it was a way to fill my empty time. I never expected to get so into it. So much so that I’ve creates social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, StumbleUpon, Bloglovin). I am intentional about writing and engaging with other bloggers in multiple different niches as I figure out and learn how to grow my own community. And it has definitely been incorporated into my Vision of Future for 2017. Adventures of a Young Wife has turned into more than I imagined and I am so excited to continue it as we go about our newest adventures.

Health has been a major focus

And finally it has given me the opportunity to work on my health physically. I am not perfect here by any means I mean just remember my hiking story (find it here). But having the ability to not have to get up and immediately crank it out before being at work at 8am or after I get off at 5pm. I can add it to my morning routine in a stress free way which makes me more likely to actually see it through. Even though sometimes puppy snuggles win out!

In the end…

But look at all these wonderful things! I could never have imagined this life. All though out college and grad school I never dreamed my life would take a path like this; but, I wouldn’t change a thing. And I get to do the one thing I love most, love my hubby in person for the next 7 months before he leaves and support him always. I know you don’t read my blog to just find out about my life, well some of you might, like my mom.

But I am hoping that by sharing my experiences with you that you can learn something too. For me, being a stay at home wife is a major shift in plans. I don’t know what that major shift for you is – maybe it’s getting married, having a baby, losing your job, or a loved one; whatever that unexpected life shift is for you remember that good things can come from it. If only you allow yourself to be open. I could have been sulky and sullen and stayed on my couch and I wouldn’t have gained anything but I worked hard and put myself out there! And I am so glad I did, and you will be too!

What unexpected situations have you found yourself in that turned out great?

My story of how I found myself somewhere I never expected to be. My life as a stay at home wife and how I made the best of the situation

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!

My Vision of Future

See how I created My Vision of Future through coaching to make my Goals for 2017

 

 

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.

Then 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.

Dear Grace,

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. The community that has been built around it is wonderful. 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!)

Wellness Challenge Part 5: Living a Healthy Life

Living a Healthy Life

So I saved the hardest one for last, well at least the hardest one for me. I am not the poster child for fitness 5x a week and when my favorite online fitness and nutritional coach challenged us to 28 days no diary, gluten, added sugar, processed food, and alcohol (that is the only one I can easily omit). I actually laughed at my computer screen. That would mean 28 days without ice-cream and chocolate, 28 days without my favorite snacky foods- fruit snacks and granola bars. Sure I could replace all of those with healthier, no processed foods, but I can’t afford for my grocery bill to go up $50 or more to shop like that.

But all that being said, I am not terribly unhealthy, I eat fruits and vegetables daily, we don’t eat a lot of refined flour – my hubby doesn’t eat carbs and for the most part I eat three balanced meals a day. Most of my grocery list is fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats, so I think its ok to buy the more yummy, and probably less healthy snacks, just being honest.

Exercise on the other hand kicks my butt. I hate being sweaty and am way too self-conscious to go to gym. I try to do Pilates at home, but since I hate to sweat I generally skip cardio day on the calendar (let me tell you big mistake!) I thought I was doing just fine with that arrangement… until my brother took us hiking while we were visiting them over Christmas. It was beautiful, but I struggled big time! I had no endurance, I guess I shouldn’t have skipped cardio! I gave up about 10 times, thankfully I started 11 times and so I made it to top, and I am so glad I did, just look at that view! But I was in rough shape huffing and puffing my way to the top, while my dad, brother and husband all looked cool as a cucumber. I guess there is something to be said for cardio day!

View from the top of the mountain in Hawaii Kai

I know exercise and diet are probably two of the biggest New Year’s Resolutions that Americans make each year! But they are also probably the quickest to be given up on. So this year we are not going to make them resolutions, we are going to make them goals. My fitness goal for 2017 is cardio (obviously)! Our New Year’s Resolution shouldn’t be crazy diets, or hard core work out plans. We have to start small and be realistic. I know that cross-fit isn’t for me, (hello sweating) so why would I start there? I am going start small, I can do cardio dance in the privacy of my own home! So that is where I am going to start!

So I think this goal here should be balance: you can have ice cream and chocolate and all the good stuff as long as you also eat healthy as well! You don’t have to give anything up to make room for exercise in your schedule, start small, maybe it’s at home, maybe you and a friend agree to walk the neighborhood together a few times a week!

But why do we need to live a healthy lifestyle! Well besides the idea that regular healthy diet and exercise is an obvious path to wellness, diet and exercise can reduce mental health problems especially anxiety and depression. Has anyone watched Legally Blonde? Remember, “EXERCISE GIVES YOU ENDORPHINS; ENDORPHINS MAKE YOU HAPPY” Elle Woods knew what she was talking about! Happy people are less anxious and less depressed. I am not a dietician, but from having worked with families and individuals in my time counseling, I have noticed that diet can play a huge part in mood and affect. Also having a healthy diet, and knowing you are consuming food that is good for you can increase sense of self-worth and self-esteem! Making decisions that you know are good for you will make you feel better about yourself. The same is true of exercise. Even if you don’t see immediate results, you will feel better about yourself for having done something that is a good for you!

As we finish the wellness series today as we move out of the first month of 2017 already! In writing all of these posts and making goals for myself in all these areas and am hoping that 2017 will be the best year yet! It is already shaping up to be a really great year! I hope this Wellness Challenge has been as inspiring for you as it was for me! And my final hope for you is that you can make good on your goals! Take time every few months and evaluate where you are, and if you aren’t where you want to be, don’t get yourself down, just figure out what you need to do to get back on track.

How are you going to make 2017 your healthiest year yet? Did you enjoy the wellness challenge? Let me know in the comments!

Find weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4 here for challenges for your marriage, mental wellness, making friends, and living simply!

Living the Healthy Life to feel good inside and out

Wellness Challenge Part 4: Living the Simple Life + FREE Printable Cleaning Schedule

Living the Simple Life - How to simplify our homes and our calendars + Freebie

Raise your hand if the clutter and messiness of your home overwhelm you? Raise your hand if the business of your calendar has you down? I knew I couldn’t be the only one! And that is exactly why Week 4 of the Wellness Challenge Series is going to focus on living the simple life! Simplifying your obligations, your calendar, and your home will help reduce anxiety in your life because there will be fewer tings vying for your time and energy! If you dedicate your time to a few essential tasks: work, family life, house cleaning; then you will have more energy to devote to each task. This will leave you feeling more accomplished and less anxious! If you simplify your home, keeping the necessities, and finally purging all the things you always mean to thrown away but don’t then there will be less clutter to stress you out, and will take less time to clean in general! This post will also contain my simple daily and weekly cleaning schedule that helps me keep the clutter to a minimum! There are two main places that we need to focus on when it comes to simplifying our lives: our calendars and our homes! I am going to speak to how to simplify and remove extraneous obligations and possessions and how doing so will promote wellness in you and your family! And as promised I will also be sharing how I am doing so in the New Year to help simplify my own life.

Simplifying your Calendar
Who else’s calendar already looks like this??

My busy calendar

I know I am not the only one, and those are just the regular obligations like work, that doesn’t include spontaneous events or those events yet to be planned (obviously)! But what would happen if we didn’t have something scheduled every day? You know what would happen, we wouldn’t be run ragged, we could rest, and much to contrary belief our heads won’t fall off and nobody will be disappointed in us! Now we can’t give up work or spending time with family, or taking care of our pets (that is most of what is scheduled on my calendar right now – and its already jam packed!) but, we DO NOT have to say YES every time someone asks us to help organize a function, attend a function, be classroom mom, volunteer at the homeless shelter 4 times a month, and attend every exercise class that we are invited to. While none of these things are bad in and of themselves they can distract us from our priorities in life. So Step 1 in simplifying your calendar is IDENTIFY YOUR PRIORITIES. The priorities I have are: my work, this includes babysitting (my only form of paid income at the moment), volunteer work, and my blog (which I hope to grow into a source of income); family time-  both extended and with my husband; and bible study (I attend weekly bible study one day a week – PWOC for those in the Military Family, it is a wonderful source of community).

Step 2 is now that those priorities have established, figure out what events on your calendar align with your priorities and which don’t. If you have an overwhelming amount of events on your calendar that don’t align with your priorities then it is time to examine why you are involved and if you can step back from those commitments. IF you have to step away understand that while it may be difficult and uncomfortable to have those conversations, most people will understand and appreciate your honesty. And in the long run, nobody will be disappointed in you. So know that it is 100% ok to step back from activities, committees or groups.

So now we have simplified your calendar so you can focus on your priorities! YAY! What a relief to think about starting off the year with less commitments! Leaving you more time to relax and enjoy the spontaneous parts of life (like a night out on the town with the hubby or trip to the dog park with a friend)! You will have more time to spend with the kids so you won’t look back and say with regret all the things you missed when they were little or whatever else you feel like you are missing out on now because of the business of life. Now let’s turn to simplifying your home!

Simplifying your Home

Now I am not the poster child about livin’ in a minimalism style, that’s just not me. If you were coming to my house, well right now it’s still decorated for Christmas, but normally would be a rustic chic style with lots of pictures everywhere. It’s full of memories in still life form and trinkets from all parts of our lives. But I try to declutter as often as I can. Knowing that I will be moving this summer I am already mentally prepping for the purge, even though we just went through one last summer when I moved here! So here is the list of things I will be purging this time around: duplicates of anything (I have 156 cups in my kitchen or so it seems anyway); old files, bills, pieces of paper that are not necessary; old calendars (I am so guilty of keeping my old calendars and agendas when I get a new one); anything that is broken (I am the queen of I will fix it one day); clothes I don’t wear- that don’t fit, have holes in them, stained beyond repair; books I have read and will never read again.

If I threw away (or gave away or sold) just those things, I could probably fill several garbage bags, the big black ones. And it wouldn’t take me very long if I just sat down and did it. I am a sentimental pack rat so for me I have to take emotion out of the process or find a way to consolidate –  I think this is where my scrapbooking hobby comes from! If you can’t throw it away yourself ask a friend or your husband to help, as the items may have less sentimental value to them. Now I am not talking about throwing away memorabilia from your wedding or babies or any other special moment, but do you really need to keep your notes from your high school classes (yes, I graduated in 2010 and just threw them away, still have my college ones though…) or that rock collection you have that came mostly from your grandmother’s gravel driveway (yup, guilty again).

Finally, and this is really the biggest point: Do you feel relaxed in your own home? If the answer is yes than you are doing ok! If the answer is sometimes, figure out why sometimes you just can’t unwind – is it because it’s cluttered, messy, things don’t have their own place, it’s not cozy. Then just work on that area. If it is clutter, then get rid of the unnecessary stuff, garbage on the table and counters, put pens in a jar, use baskets to organize like items so it looks neat on the shelves. If its messy then find a cleaning schedule that works for you. HERE is the cleaning schedule I try to follow in my house, it’s not a deep clean, but it makes the house feel neat and tidy. If it’s not cozy the try adding fun pillows, blankets, candles and lamps so that your living spaces are warm and inviting!

You don’t want your own home to make you anxious, you want home to be a safe haven from the crazy world outside The less your home makes you anxious, the less you will schedule to keep you out of the house (see how I put those two together)! Having down time will allow you to recuperate, relax, rest and recharge for you to tackle your next task! Without that you will run yourself into the ground! Obviously exhaustion is the opposite of wellness, our goal of happy and healthy selves in the New Year. So give yourself a break, you don’t have to do everything & you don’t have to have a Pinterest worthy home, as long as its relaxing for you!

Living the Simple Life - How to simplify our homes and our calendars + FREEBIE