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Four Things I’ve Learned in Four Years as a MilSpouse

Four years ago this week Caleb took an oath to serve our country as a United States Air Force Officer.  Since we were  married just a week and a half before that, I’ve been along since the beginning of his active duty career.

Four years is the first crossroads for many officers, including Caleb.  His initial commitment was completed so this month he could have left the military for civilian life.  Instead he (we) chose to stay so he could earn the promotion to Captain.  It was an easy decision for Caleb to stay in since we’ve been planning to stay in the military long term, but in January when we found out he was assigned to AFIT, we understood that accepting that assignment meant that he was also accepting a longer commitment.  We feel like our military journey is just beginning so we didn’t mind dedicating a few more years.

Here’s a little bit about our military journey: In the past four years we’ve lived in three states.  Caleb completed tech school, deployed for six months, and promoted twice.  I served as Key Spouse for one squadron and am working to get involved in at WPAFB.  And we know we’ll be moving again in 17 months when he’s finished here at AFIT.

We’ve had highs and lows with the military.  There are lots of days when I think we could stay in “for life” (20+ years) and when I’m smitten with the possibility of all the places we could live.  Then there are times when I just want to have a “normal” life, when I bemoan the fact that we don’t own a house or that we can’t live closer to my family.

Today I thought I’d share four things that I’ve learned in four years of military life.

4 Things I've Learned in 4 Years as a MilSpouse

1. Think Seasonally

Civilians often talk about the seasons of life (e.g. your kids are only young for a season).  But in the military you know that there are many more kinds of seasons.  There’s the season of deployment, the season of TDY’s, and seasons of training or special duty.

When Caleb was a tech school there were days when he was gone 12 hours a day.  We were newly married.  We had one car, which he took to base.  I had exactly one friend in that town.  I was home alone with dangerously severe morning sickness.  And lots of days he was in a SCIF which meant that I had no way to contact him.  It was a really, really awful and lonely season.  But it was just that: a season.

If you’re in a season that really stinks, remember that this deployment, this assignment, this duty isn’t going to last forever.

2. Make Yourself A Priority

As a new MilSpouse I was excited about military life.  But I was also keenly aware of the things I was giving up at that time.  Because of several personal reasons it didn’t make sense for me to start grad school or look for a job in those beginning years so we made the decision together that I would stay home with our son.  But that didn’t mean that it was always easy for me.  Blogging (and eventually freelancing) has given me an outlet to develop new skills, challenge myself and carve out time for my own interests.  It’s something that can travel with me to each new home we make.

Writing might not be your outlet.  But find something that makes you happy.  Whether it’s working outside the home, running, painting or weight-lifting, make it a priority.  There might be times when it goes on the back-burner if you’re in a difficult season and that’s okay too.  Just make sure that you get back to doing something that you love (and something that travels with you) to make you feel steady and sure in the topsy-turvy world of the military.

3. Find Your People

It’s really hard to do military life alone.  And it’s also really hard to do with the wrong people.

Look for YOUR people at each base.  At times I’ve fallen into the completely unfair trap of narrowing down military spouses in a caricature.  I cynically think that they are all the same and that I don’t fit in with them.  Not only is that silly, it’s absolutely wrong.  The more MilSpouses I meet, the more I realize how much variety there is in this group.

If you can’t easily find your people, consider starting a group that might attract them.  When we moved here to WPAFB I wanted to meet other MilSpouses who liked to think and discuss things so I started a TED Talk group where we get together once a month to watch and discuss a TED Talk.  At first I was a little nervous that no one would be interested, but I had a great response to that idea.  Think of what kind of people you want to meet and then figure out how to find them!

4.  Rank Doesn’t Matter (But It Kinda Does)

As a spouse, issues of rank rarely affect me.  I will neither befriend you nor snub you based on your spouse’s rank.  I’m friends with who I want to be friends with and that’s it.   

But rank does matter when it comes to my husband.  Per the rules of the military, he can’t spend much time outside of work with people either above or below him in his chain of command.  This fraternization rule is there to keep commanders from acting based on favoritism.

All that this means in our family is that if I’m friends with someone in Caleb’s squadron, we probably won’t be able to do things together as families.  As spouses we’re free to get together as often as we’d like though.

Whether you’ve been a MilSpouse for 10 months or 10 years, I would LOVE to hear what you’ve learned!   Share in the comments below or connect with me on Facebook and comment there!

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Guest Post: Lead Your Children Into ADVENTURE

Oh, friends!  You are in for a treat today!  This post is EXCELLENT.  And I can say that since I didn’t write it!

Guest posting for me today is Lara Krupicka, a writing friend and fellow member of the Redbud Writers Guild.  Lara’s words are an inspiration to younger parents, like me, who are trying to figure out the balance between having children and having your own identity.  I hope you are as encouraged by this post as I was!

Lead Your Children Into Adventure

 

Last summer my husband and I volunteered on the ground crew of a hot air balloon for a local balloon festival. We helped unpack the basket, tethers, tanks, and envelope (the colorful fabric part of the balloon). And then we went through the slow, but exhilarating process of helping the pilot fill the envelope with first cold, then hot air. Once it was inflated, we lent our weight to keeping the basket on the ground so visitors could come up close to look. Which for a little while actually meant standing in the basket. Never mind that it never left the ground for a flight. It was still pretty awesome!

All the while, our children (ages 15, 13 and 10) slept at home. They couldn’t handle early hour (5am) and were too young yet to crew. But we didn’t let them hold us back from doing something we’d both been hoping to experience for years. And when we woke them for breakfast later, they were anxious to hear our stories.

We jumped at this experience now, while our kids are still growing, not only because it is one we have been looking forward to, but also because we believe in leading by example. And we want our children to embrace adventure. We want them to pay attention to the soul stirrings and heart cries that call them to engage with our world in ways only they can.

But our kids can’t do that if we fill every hour of their days with school, clubs, sports, and activities. And they won’t do that if we spend all of our days focused only on them and their clubs, sports and activities.

So in our household Mom and Dad sign up for classes, play in tournaments, and join clubs. And we do so without guilt or regret. Because even though those activities take us away from our kids for an hour here or a half day there, they ultimately return us to our families as fuller, more fulfilled people. We are better parents when we are with our kids because of the interests and activities we pursue apart from them. And our kids in turn are becoming explorers who aren’t afraid to strike out on their own to try an unusual sport or activity that catches their interest (like the fencing class my youngest took last fall).

When was the last time you engaged in an interest of your own apart from your kids? If you aren’t sure where to start, trying writing up a short bucket list of new things you want to do, places you want to see, and people you want to meet. Then pick one idea and give it a whirl. See what the adventure does for you and your kids.

Lara Krupicka is a parenting journalist and mother of three. She’s also the author of Family Bucket Lists: Bring More Fun, Adventure & Camaraderie Into Every Day and the recent release, Bucket List Living For Moms: Become a More Adventurous Parent.  

Thanks, Lara, for this fantastic guest post!  Readers, you can connect with Lara on her website, on Twitter or by leaving a comment here!
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Lessons from Church Hopping

Lessons From Church Hopping

 

In my 27 years, I’ve been a regular attendee of at least 13 different churches.

I’ve been an unintentional church hopper. Rarely has it been my decision to leave a church, rather it has been dictated by moves. Growing up, my father’s job meant we moved cities, and thus churches, often—before graduating from college, I had lived in nine houses. When I later married a career-minded Air Force officer, I ensured that moving would be part of my future for years to come.

 

Click over to RELEVANT Magazine to read the rest of my post for today!  

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