Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Best Thing to Hold Onto

It is not uncommon to meet a military spouse that has a colorful array of experiences, hobbies, or talents.  Like our spouses, we tend to learn a little bit about many things; moving from one station to the next, one job to the next, one stage of life to the next.

I have done many things myself; teaching, training, blogging, photography, real estate, gardening, direct sales.  Some were paid positions, others are personal interests.  It's how I've adapted to each new season of my life.  Some things I hold onto, some things I don't, for various reasons.  It is an ever evolving lifestyle that affects the dynamics of our family, and my roles within it.  

The tangible things I carry because of my experiences have come and gone as well.  I try to hold onto things that help keep me grounded and sane, hopefully, a better person too.

Things can be a reminder or an aide to who I am and how far I've come.  But the best thing I've held onto in this life that can't compare to the rest of the stuff I accumulate and binge is... 

Each other

The only thing that really matters when we decide what to keep or discard in our lives is that we are still holding onto one another.  "Each other" does not only apply to my family but the many friends I've made.  Though distance doesn't make it easy, I try my best to keep in contact or let them know I care in some way because I appreciate them, I miss them, they matter to me, and because...

"Each other" 
kept me grounded,
kept me sane
and made me a better person.


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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Silent Supporters

There is an ebb and flow to the type of support system a military family can have.  It changes from move to move, and it changes in between those moves when it's a friend that leaves instead.  Virtual support is always there in some form, but a real life person cannot always be there from time to time.

What we do have are silent supporters that love us no matter what, and follow us where ever we go....  
Though they can be noisy, by silent, I mean they don't speak... our pets.

Extensions of our family of a different species.

For us, it is two dogs.  Ready to play, ready to keep company, available for hugs, there for comfort when needed, reminders that we are safe, waiting for us to come home, and quietly laying at our feet at the end of the day.  They've been our silent support system when things are unsure when things are crazy when things are lonely when things are scary, and when things are good.

When my husband was deployed the first time our older dog stayed close and wouldn't leave me when I cried.  When he deployed the second time, she gave me a sense of security when I felt scared being alone with a baby.  She was someone to talk to that didn't judge me.  The third time he deployed she was a friend to play with for my son when I needed a break, and someone to hug when we both needed extra love.


Our younger dog has reminded us to have fun during the stress of a PCS, and to get out and meet others in a new place.  She's never turned down a chance to snuggle and is always ready for a kiss.  When this crazy life gets us down she's a constant source for a good laugh.

Both of our dogs get just as excited as me and my boys when my husband comes home, no matter how long he's been gone.  They haven't changed on us, they are always there waiting for us, and they don't care what my husband does for a living.

I carry a poem around that I found many moves ago that I keep on the wall with a picture of our dogs that describe their roles within our family perfectly, the role of a dog in particular...

Who are the silent supporters in your life?


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Friday, September 18, 2015

The Relationship I Love to Hate

Relationships are tricky.  It's a give and take of yourself with someone, something, or someplace.  It's about sharing, spending quality time, providing it with your resources, receiving resources, and maybe accepting what it offers in return.

I find this to be true of the relationships I've had with friends, family members, the military, working environments, communities I've lived in, pets I've had, even objects I've owned.  I know if I hadn't spent the time I did taking proper care of the cars I've had in my possession I knew I wouldn't be getting a reliable ride in return, maybe none at all if my car didn't start!

I've never been 100% happy with any of my relationships, even with my husband.  Because, like the infamous book title by John Gray reads, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus... it's not possible to be perfectly content all the time.

Even though I've not been able to keep some of my relationships afloat or had to abandon ship altogether, the relationship I struggle with the most is my online relationship, mostly social media, I LOVE to HATE it!

I LOVE technology and praise the conveniences it has to offer me, especially in my long distance travels from family and friends.  My kids can Skype their grandparents.  I can send an instant message or photo to friends.  I can share a story with hundreds or thousands of people with a click of a button.  I can see what my family is up to.  I can share interesting pieces with like-minded people that spark conversation in the middle of my day when I don't have another adult to talk to.  And I can get advice or inspiration from random people I've never met.

I HATE technology for the time that it seems to steal and vaporize from my day.  The rabbit hole of enormous information that gets me lost sometimes.  The unfortunate amount of misinformation that can be found floating around.  The fear of missing out feeling I get because we are so dependent on sharing information and ideas with each other online now... and the fear of missing out on the life that is going right in front of me that creeps in when I realize how much time I really spent in front of the screen.

I can only stand looking at a screen for so long, then I get sick of it and need to detox myself.  It's the time that I spend online that makes me pull away to live REAL LIFE.


I need face to face conversation.  I need to be outside, engaging with others with similar interests.  I need to play with my kids.  I need to laugh with others in the same room.  I need to meet new people, hear their stories, and see the expressions on their face.  I need to engage my senses and experience life in a way the Internet cannot accomplish for me.

Though social media is not the kind of connection I prefer, the biggest reason I still use it and love it is the possibility for real life connection.

I am increasingly finding that military spouses are making connections over social media to find their place in new surroundings.  I can collaborate and make plans for a dinner, meeting, or play date online but reap the benefits in person.  Social media has become a starting point for me to join in groups and activities in my local area I am interested in that I may not have known about otherwise.  It provides an instant group of people I may have something in common with or might become friends with.  I complain about social media at times, but it has positives I can't ignore for a transient family, so I do embrace it.  What I don't do is let it replace or take over what I've lost, so I implemented some rules for myself to balance this...

  1. I don't carry my phone around the house with me.  I have started leaving it in the same spot every day.  If I carry it in my pocket around the house I am more likely to take a peek at what's happening online, or check any new messages.
  2. I leave my computer at my desk.  I have started using the same principle with my laptop that I use with my phone.  Laptops were designed to be easier to move and travel with, but I don't stay in the same place in my home for very long.  I find that if it's within arm’s reach I'm more apt to pick it up and browse out of boredom instead of doing what's on my to-do list.  
  3. I turn social media notifications off on my phone.  When I do need to use my phone I don't get distracted by the little numbers that tell me there's new activity on my accounts.  If I click on them I've realized I don't always have the self-control I think I have to just read one message when another pops up while I'm on it.
  4. I set aside time to check in online.  I'm figuring out when the best time is to schedule in time to keep in touch with the people in my online world, because most of them were once a part of my day to day life and I don't want to lose complete track of or neglect the relationships we have.  Every time we move my military family gets bigger and the Internet does make it a little easier to juggle.
  5. I get outside.  I don't always get outside just to see something cool with my own eyes, sometimes I go just to talk with and meet other people.  I check out the places other spouses mention online, and I make a point of striking up a simple conversation.  It can lead to something more.  I found out I had a lot in common with another mom one day, who turned out to also be a military spouse, and we exchanged numbers to meet at a coffee shop she was telling me about.  A new connection that didn't involve my keyboard!

When I started implementing these things for myself I realized that I wasted a lot of time doing nothing that benefited my day, and I never got to the things I really wanted to accomplish.  It's been better for all of my relationships.  

What do you do to balance your online presence to prevent it from taking over your reality?


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