Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Few Steps Back

Sometimes, we just need to let go.  As we slowly move through life in the military, we learn to adapt and become stronger, building brick walls around our hearts as we go.  We begrudgingly move through deployments trying our best to ignore the feelings of emptiness that threaten our success.  We tell ourselves we are ready to move and that a change will be good.  We guard our tongues when all we really want to do is scream at the military for making it so hard because we know that no matter how hard we try, we cannot change our circumstances.  We deny our minds access to think about the things we are missing because of our duty to the military.  Every so often, though, a brick becomes loose and the wall crumbles a bit.  With hardened hearts, we quickly try to patch it back together before it falls completely.  We push the thoughts to the back of our minds hoping that with time they will just go away.  We are unwilling to lose strength.

Randall and I had just gotten the kids to bed and sat ourselves on the couch ready to watch our evening television shows.  I was ready to decompress for the day and forget about the thoughts going through my head.  Randall, with his impeccable instinct, noticed that I had been quieter than my usual self lately and asked if everything was okay.  He makes a habit of checking up on me regularly, but I generally tell him nothing is bothering me and that I’m just tired.  But this time, something urged me to talk to him.  Something in my head told me that he needed to know what was on my mind.  I broke down. 

The truth is, my heart has been yearning for those things I miss.  Growing up, it wasn’t just me, my brother, and my parents.  It was my entire family—grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, close family friends—and I never missed out on anything.  Now, family is hundreds of miles away and we see them only but a few times a year.  When I talk to my mom on the phone, I find joy in hearing about the family get-togethers and the new things that my one-year-old nephew is doing, but deep down it breaks my heart because I can’t be there myself.  I think about Randall’s brother and sister-in-law, who we haven’t seen since January of 2010 nor have we met their baby girl who just turned a year old.  I am saddened by how little my kids get to see their grandparents because of how much I treasured seeing my own grandparents while growing up, and how they don’t get to play with their cousins.  I miss always having places to go and people to see, people who, no matter what, were always happy to see me.

And then there are my dreams.  For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed about a house, a big and beautiful house in which my family and I would settle down.  I fantasized about lots of windows to let light in, a wonderful gourmet kitchen which opened to the living room, and a large deck outside where I would sit and drink my coffee while listening to the birds in the morning.  I dreamt about the memories that would be created in this home.  I visualized my kids running around a large yard in their bare feet, or sledding down a hill in the winter.  I see myself looking out the windows admiring the plush, green leaves in the summer, the beautiful colors on the trees in the fall, the softly-falling snow in the winter, and the first blossoms in the spring.  I miss the seasons of the north where I am most at home.  Now, despite my acceptance of my current circumstances, I can’t help but crave this dream and wonder if it will ever happen.   We have made some wonderful memories in the places we have lived, but all of these places are temporary residences we inhabit based on where the military sends us.  We acclimate to our surroundings but, for me, there is always a void, always something missing.

It felt good to vent my feelings, although Randall struggled with it because he couldn’t fix what was making me sad.  But there is no way to fix it, and that’s okay.  Being strong all the time is extremely difficult and no one is perfect.  It is inevitable that our bricks will crumble a bit here and there and we will regress.  Honestly, I am grateful that I miss these things so much because it means that I had a happy childhood.  It means that I paid enough attention while I was little to appreciate what I had.  It means that I learned to dream big so that I would have something to strive for when I got older.  The military lifestyle is nowhere close to the way I grew up.  But because I cannot change my circumstances, I can choose to accept them and create a new lifestyle, one that my kids will look back on one day and miss just as I do.  Every so often we fall a few steps behind in our journey towards strength, but eventually we catch up, all the while gaining a little bit more perseverance.  “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” –Serenity Prayer

Friday, June 22, 2012

Learning to Swim

There are some things in life that are so simple and so obvious, yet we never realize them.  We take for granted the things that are amazing in our lives because we just don’t see how much of a blessing they are.  As I talked to my dad on Father’s day, he asked how the kids were and if anything new was going on.  I told him that they would be beginning swimming lessons that week.  He was excited for them and pleased that they would be learning something that is a huge accomplishment for kids.  Somehow we got on the subject of how my brother and I learned to swim.  I told him that I took lessons but not until I was a little bit older, maybe seven or eight, and I was pretty sure my brother took lessons at our old house with one of his friends.  My dad hesitated, trying to remember, and then asked my mom if that was correct.  She affirmed it.  I knew my dad couldn’t remember much about our swimming lessons because he was always at work when we went to them.  They were usually during the day and my mom was the one to take us and see us develop our skills.  It wasn’t a big deal, and my brother and I didn’t feel bad that dad wasn’t there.  We knew that’s just how it was.  I didn’t think much more about it until a few days later when I realized something so evident, so eye-opening, that I was beside myself that I hadn’t seen it sooner. 

Being a stay-at-home mom is a difficult job.  I don’t think I need to list all of the tasks stay-at-home mothers have to complete, not to mention keeping their sanity when the kids are out of control.  I admit I am guilty of finding a way to complain about everything that is required of me as a stay-home mom and I get extremely frustrated and exhausted with the demands that are placed on me.  But there is something I have been failing to focus on, something that would send all those complaints right back into my mouth and zip it shut.  What I now see is that being a stay-home mom is one of the best gifts we can be given as moms because we don’t miss out on our children’s lives.  We are there for it all, every new accomplishment, every activity, every hug when they are sad or when they are proud of themselves and every smile on their faces when we pick them up from school.  We get to see their lives first-hand.  We are the ones they default to when they are truly upset.  More often than not, the dads don’t get those things.  They have to settle for a play-by-play story of these things.  They work all day to make money for the family at the expense that they miss out on seeing new things in their children’s lives.  They know that their kids can swim, but they don’t know how they learned to swim.

For military dads, the inability to experience their children’s lives is even greater.  Deployments take them away from their kids for many months at a time.  They have no choice but to learn about their kids accomplishments through phone calls and e-mails.  They won’t let you know it, but their hearts are breaking inside because they want to be there with their kids.  While us military wives and moms complain to them about how hard things are and how we hate doing it all by ourselves (I am regretfully guilty of this!), they are envying us because we get to see all that the kids do.  We get to hug them and kiss them.  We get to be the ones they come to.  We get the glory.

Sometimes the things we think are the hardest in life are really our greatest blessings.  I challenge you, when you are faced with obstacles, to take a step back and try to find the goodness in your circumstances.  Think about how you would feel if you had to work full time and could only see your kids in the evenings and on weekends, or if you had to be away from them for months.  When you are about ready to lock your kids in a closet for a few days, remember that you get to be there, you get to see their firsts, you are the ones they lean on.  Tell your husband thank you often and have mercy on him, because he so badly wants to switch places with you!

Monday, June 18, 2012

What Would Have Been

I often wonder, if I had known more about military life before entering into it would it have changed my decision to marry a soldier?  If I had understood more about the sacrifices that soldiers and their families make, would I have continued dating a military man?  Would I have been okay with knowing my life would be controlled by the military or the idea of taking on single parenthood for months at a time, several times over?  If I had known that life would be far from the example I had growing up, in which my dad worked regular hours and was home every night for dinner, my mom had the help of her parents and other family members with watching her kids, and we had the privilege of seeing close friends and loved ones often, would I still have chosen a life so unfamiliar? 

The truth is, these questions are impossible to answer.  I’d like to think that knowing the answers would not have made any difference because the love which was pouring out of my heart for this man was the only thing that mattered.  However, there is no way to know, no ability to go back in time and see what decision I might have made.

The funny thing is, even though my mind sometimes floats off into a daydream and I think about these things, I am so thankful I did not know how military life would be.  I cannot bear to think that if someone had told me the answers to these questions before I chose this life, before I knew how strong I could become or how important I would be to my husband and kids, I would have turned around and walked away.  I have come to believe that one of life’s blessings is not knowing the future which lies ahead of us.  If we had the ability to foresee our futures and make our own decisions based on them, how often would we choose a path which leads to discontent?  How often would we change our course for our own benefit, only to find that it is much worse than what would have been if nature took its course? 

I do not regret the life-choices I have made, nor do I think that things would have been better if I had done something different.  All of my trust rests in the fact that this is where I’m supposed to be.  This is God’s plan.  Every time I struggle with my circumstances, I try to remember how much good will come out of me being a stay-home mom and a military wife.  When I think about my desire to work, I remember that, when the time is right, God will guide me in the right direction.  I can see now how all the difficulties and frustrations I face are put in place so that I will learn to grow and persevere and to draw me closer to God.  I think about how it is not just my life in the equation, but my husband’s and kids’ too.  Everything I do affects them, and they in turn affect me.  We have formed an inseparable bond, a unit which will carry each other through thick and thin.  I may not have known what lied ahead before I embarked on this life, but by listening to the Spirit inside of me I have found the life that was chosen for me.  I can rest my mind knowing that even if I had been aware of the trials of this life before I embarked on it, my choice would have been the same.     

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let them Have Cake

As I stood there, in the freezing cold Chuck E Cheeses, I looked at the clock on my phone hoping that it was almost time to go home.  As a mom, I am not particularly fond of Chuck E Cheese.  Besides it being a breeding ground for germs, it is unbelievable how much they rip you off by making you pay for coins then requiring an insane amount of tickets to get even a remotely good prize.  Either someone would have to be a pro at beating the games, or he’d have to come back several times, saving his tickets each time, in order to get one of the top prizes.  To my dismay, there was still a half-hour left before the party would be over.  Not that a half-hour is that long, but it already felt like I had been there for three hours.

Then, I looked at my kids.  I watched how nicely they were sitting at the table amidst the rest of the children attending the party eating their birthday cake.  They were so happy.  I smiled as they shoveled their cake into their mouths with their forks, totally entranced by that single piece of cake in front of them.  They cared about nothing else.  They were living in the moment.

After that, my heart changed.  I no longer cared that I was uncomfortably cold in a place I try my hardest to avoid.  All I cared about was that my kids were happy.  I took the cue from them and decided to live in the moment with them.  They are only little for so long and I want them to enjoy every moment of their childhood.  All it took for them at this moment was having that piece of cake. 

Perhaps we could all use a little direction from our kids.  Do you ever notice that when they are doing something, they are totally focused on that thing and that thing only?  Do you realize that they do not dwell on the past or worry about the future?  Do you notice that no matter how many times you yell at them, they still love you and come to you for their needs?  Do you see how easy it is for them to forgive? 

 Kids are the epitome of simplicity.  It takes very little for them to be content.  The most important thing we can do as parents is to nurture their simple nature with unending love and plenty of opportunities to be happy.  Let them have cake, let them play hard, let them run free, let them create.  Childhood is when the buds form.  If we water them just the right amount, if we give them valuable instruction while still letting them enjoy being little, our kids will bloom into the most beautiful flowers! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

It All Comes From Within

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies with in us."- Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Growing up, my dad would always tell me that if I had a problem with someone or something else, to look within myself first.  I remember taking the idea into consideration, but it wasn’t long before I went right back to blaming my problems on outside sources.  To be perfectly honest, I still do.  We all do.  Why, I do not know.  Perhaps it is pride, or not wanting to take responsibility for our actions, or maybe it is just human nature.  But if we take the time to turn inward, to look within ourselves, before passing judgment or criticizing others or placing blame on something or someone other than ourselves, we will find something humbling.  We will find that the real culprit is lurking inside of us, creating much more of a problem than anything on the outside ever could.

 When some friends of yours show you their new house, you are immediately taken by how large and lovely it is.  You think about your own, much smaller home, and begin to get angry that you don’t make enough money at your current job and it is holding you back from having everything you want.  You become stressed and frustrated as you stew over your current situation.   Look within yourself—it is not your job, but internal envy of what others have that is causing your frustration.
One of your close girlfriends just got engaged.  You tell her you are happy for her, but secretly you are bitter.  How could she get engaged before you?  She always had better luck with guys.  It’s just not fair!  Now all the attention is going to be on her because she is getting married and you will be on the back burner.  You are older anyway, so shouldn’t you be getting married first?  Look within yourself—it is not your friends’ engagement, but internal jealousy that is plaguing your heart.

 You have a successful career and are able to afford more than you could ever need.  But you still aren’t happy.  You think there’s just one more thing you need to be content, yet when you finally get that thing you realize that it hasn’t satisfied you and you still want more.  Look within yourself—it is not material things that are causing your unhappiness, it is greed and ungratefulness.
You get into an argument with a coworker about something you know you are wrong about, but do not want to admit it.  Your coworker calls you out on it and exposes your mistake to everyone else.  You become angry and decide that you no longer like that coworker and cease talking to him.  Look within yourself—it is not the coworkers’ actions but your own pride that is the issue at stake. 

 These are just a few examples of how people can become controlled by the demons which live inside their hearts.  When we fail to recognize them, we find excuses for our problems in the outside world.  In reality, no one and nothing is responsible for the way we perceive our lives other than ourselves.  We have the choice to be miserable and constantly blame the world for the undesirable things in our lives, or to look within ourselves and correct our hearts.     
You and only you are responsible for everything you think, do, and say.  Take some time to yourself to focus on these things.  Hear your thoughts, see your actions, and study your words.  If you discover that these things are mostly negative, or if you begin blaming outside sources for what you find, it is time to make a change.  It may be hard to admit to yourself that what lies in your own heart is the source of your burdens, but the great thing is that you also have the control to make a change.  You have the strength to overcome your troubles and become the best version of you. You have the ability to find acceptance in what lies behind you and create happiness in what lies before you.  You are the one who is able to enrich that which lies within you.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Grace for the Good Girl Discussion: Chapters. 1-3

Grace for the Good Girl is a book published by Emily Freeman, author of the blog Chatting at the Sky, which I have been following for a while now.  Her writing is Christian based, which is good for me because it gently reminds me of the presence of God in my life, and is also encouraging and enlightening.  Reading her posts is like taking a breath of fresh air.

For those of you who have not read the book, the first three chapters of Grace for the Good Girl focus on the tendency for women to strive for perfection in certain areas of their lives (or all areas!), at the expense of hiding behind masks so that others don't discover that they are truly not perfect.  By hiding, these women do not allow themselves to truly be themselves, nor can they truly follow God's loving lead.  As I read through the chapters, I discovered that I have some masks of my own that I have hid behind over the past several years, fearing that people might find out that I am not as perfect as I might appear to be.  Here are my answers to some of the end-of-chapter questions highlighting the areas of the book that spoke most to me:

What are your "sometimes truths"?
I am a very faithful Christian and look to God in some way or another every single day, but I don't pay as much as I should and almost never pick up the Bible to read it.  I may come across as very confident, but I have many insecurities.  I base some decisions on what other people will think about me.  I have struggled with bouts of intense anxiety for many years.  I think I could be a better mom to my kids.  I am afraid of becoming a nagging wife.

What aspects of your performance are you unwilling to let go? 
A funny thing happened when I turned 30, I became less of a perfectionist.  This, I'm sure, is a blessing.  I began letting the house get a little messier (ok, a lot messier).  I stopped putting on makeup EVERY day.  I cared less, much less, about what people thought of me.  When this happened, I felt closer to my true self than I had in years.  But there is an area where I am unwilling to let go, and this is being a military wife. During all three deployments, people would tell me, "I don't know how you do it."  During this last one, which my regular readers know was painstaking for me, my daughter's pre-school teachers stopped me three months into the school year to ask me if my husband was deployed because they heard Keira talking about it in class.  When I said yes, they were shocked because they never would have known based on how well I kept myself together.  When I hear these things, it makes me proud to think that I can portray myself as a strong woman and military wife.  But what people don't see behind the doors is the struggle that captivates my mind when he is gone.  I am half supportive wife, and half resentful, overtired, overworked, get-me-out-of-here woman.  Most of the time, I have no idea how I get through stuff because my mind is so frazzled that I can't remember much of anything.  And I have this crazy issue with not being able to ask for help, at least not unless it is absolutely necessary.  But I somehow get through it without letting others see the frantic side of me.  The deployment eventually ends and people think I got through it with ease.  This is something I don't want to let go of.  I think the idea that people see me as the strong, I-can-do-it-all wife and mother that they do actually helps me keep going.  It gives me something to strive for.  And honestly, it feels good at the end when I am congratulated for a job well done, at least in their eyes.

What would be a reputation nightmare for you? 
Well, I can't tell you what my current reputation nightmare is because if I did that, I would be creating that nightmare by letting people know it.  But I can tell you what it used to be.  Most of the friends I have gotten to know at my current home know me as a neat freak.  Every time any one of them saw my house, it was spic and span.  Any time I hosted playdates, I would clean up the toys as the kids were still playing with them.  I talked about how I was constantly cleaning the house, and I really was CONSTANTLY cleaning (for this reason, my kids have always watched too much TV!)  But what no one knew was that behind the areas they could see, I wasn't very neat.  Closets were stuffed full in a very unorderly manner.  Under-sink cabinets were not organized at all, and often had dirt, debris, or stains from something that spilled.  If they were to open my dresser drawers, they would find my clothes unfolded and jammed in.  The shelves in my pantry were in disarray.  I was trying so hard, not just for others but for myself, to maintain a reputation of being a neat freak that anytime I knew someone was coming over, even if it was during a deployment and I was beyond exhausted and it would only be for a minute, I would clean up as much as I possibly could within sight.  But the cupboards and drawers and closets got ignored.  There was a time when I would have hated for someone to know this.  But as I mentioned above, since I turned 30 I just don't care.  I now let the visible areas of the house become messy and simply pick up at the end of each day, or wait until the morning when I have more energy.  I used to dust everyday, and now I do once or twice a week. I still vacuum every other day and disinfect regularly, but this is for the sake of my family's health rather than what everyone else thinks of me.  I'm not sure if this is just the realization that it is impossible to keep things neat and tidy in a house with kids or if I am slowly gaining the wisdom to learn to be more relaxed.  Whatever the reason, I now know that my perfectionism doesn't have to control me.  There are better things in life than incessant cleaning.  And now, I have more time to write!    

If you haven't already checked out Emily's blog, I encourage you to do so.  Also, it is not too late to join in on the book discussion.  You might learn something about yourself that will change your life for the better. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Matter of Faith

When we think of being scared, we often think of children being scared of the dark or afraid of thunderstorms.  Or maybe we think about our own phobias such as claustrophobia, arachnophobia, or acrophobia.  I used to be scared of thunder and lightning.  If they were during the day, I had to be right next to my mom or dad to feel safe.  At night, I would call to my mom to come get me and I would sleep the rest of the night in my parents’ bed.  As I got older, my fear slowly subsided to the point that now thunderstorms barely faze me, unless there is an extremely loud clap of thunder.  Now, I actually enjoy the peacefulness of a gentle daytime thunderstorm.   I have, however, developed a slight case of claustrophobia and a big case of the fear of the deep end of a pool, whatever that is called (weird, I know).  Most adults, I am sure, have some phobia or another.  But these are phobias that can be pushed aside by simply avoiding those situations which bring on the fear.  We do not fear if we aren’t near its source.  But there is a different kind of fear, one that is constantly simmering in the back of our subconscious minds.  It is a fear that we try to push away as often as possible because we know it can cripple us.  This unwanted fear is not a fear about a thing or a place or an event that we are aware of.  It is the fear of the unknown, the “what ifs.”

Growing up, I did not bother myself with the “what ifs.”  I was too busy playing or going to school or shopping with my mom.  If I did think about the future, it was either about some upcoming event I was excited about or what I wanted to be when I grew up.  My dad would often express his distaste for my and my mom’s shopping trips to the mall or for the places I would go with my friends.  As a teenager when I was allowed to stay out late, I didn’t understand why, the next morning, my parents expressed how they didn’t sleep well because they were worried about me.  Why did they worry?  I was a good girl who stayed out of trouble and away from the wrong people.  What was there to worry about?   

Now, I have my own kids.  Now, I understand.  Now, I fear the “what ifs.”  I am in charge of these two little lives.  It is my job while they are very young to keep them alive.  I am responsible for teaching them safety, which has been more of a struggle than I was expecting.  What if I fail?  What if I am unable to instill values and morals in their minds and they grow up making poor, unhealthy decisions?  Right now, mommy and daddy are their world.  We are all they know and the ones they trust.  What if something happens to us?  Randall and I have so many great plans for our lives, things we want to do and places we want to go and to simply grow old together.  What if one or both of us don’t make it to those days?  What if our health fails earlier than anticipated?  I am not happy to admit that these thoughts cross my mind, but I also think it is only natural to fear the unknown.  Children are scared not because they learn to be scared, but because their little minds do not yet know what the bright light and loud crashes are coming from outside, or understand that the scary shapes and shadows in their rooms at night are just their favorite toys they play with during the day.  Similarly, we as adults do not know what is in store for us and, because we have become accustomed to the idea that we will live long, happy lives, it can be scary to think that we won’t be able to live out the plans we have for ourselves.

Every person surely has their own unique set of fears, their own list of “what ifs” to worry about.  But military wives share a common fear, a huge “what if” that I do not think is necessary to spell out.  Nearly every military wife can vouch for a time when her husband was deployed and a non-military woman asked her if she worries about her husband.  The answer to that question is obvious, but it is not just during deployment that we do so.  Even when they are stationed on the home front, their jobs are still dangerous.  As a pilot, Randall often has night flights that go very late into the night.  Many times I lie awake in bed unable to sleep until he gets home at 2:00 in the morning.  Sometimes he tells me what time he should be home, and I’ll fall asleep only to wake up after that time and he’s still not home.  Talk about unsettling!  This fear, however, is something we as military wives learn to fight.  Instead of letting it take hold of us, we grab it by the horns, tie it up with duct tape, and lock it in a closet.  Every so often, a piece of it will break free and our mind will stray. Sometimes we can catch it before it takes hold, and sometimes we end up struggling with it for a while.  But eventually we send it right back to the closet.  The thing is, there is something so much stronger than this fear, something that sends the fear running with its tail between its legs.  This something is faith—faith in our country, faith in our husbands, faith in the goodness of what they are sent to do, and faith in God, that His plans for us are “plans for good and not for disaster” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Life is full of “what ifs.”  Chances are the older we get, the more “what ifs” we will fear.  But there is no reason our fear needs to take hold of our lives.  When we have faith, we believe in what is good, we focus on the here and now, and we have the strength to keep fear at bay.  Just as the military stands up our soldiers to fight four our country, we, at home, stand up faith at our front doors to fend off fear.  When our faith is strong, fear cannot survive.  I never imagined that fear would be such a force in my life.  But every time I hear it knocking, it never fails that my faith knocks it dead in its tracks.       

Friday, June 1, 2012

Reasons Why I Need to Write

1.  God

I have always enjoyed writing, but up until I was twenty-five everything I wrote was for class assignments.  It wasn’t until Randall deployed for the second time that I realized the kind of writing I enjoyed the most—inspirational writing.  In the midst of grieving my husband’s absence, I would come across a quote or bible verse, or hear a song on the radio that would somehow apply to my life and would encourage me to think positively about my circumstances.  I began to write short essays based on these inspirations and how they helped me get through the tough times.  I e-mailed these essays to my closest family members and posted them under my notes on Facebook.  I was not expecting the number of people I would reach and how much others would enjoy my words.  I soon realized that my desire and ability to write is a gift, a special talent I can share with others.  Through writing, I can take what inspires me and reach out to other people who may be going through similar difficulties.  Since I began writing the essays, I have continually felt something pulling me to keep writing, to make it something more permanent.  My problem, though, was not knowing exactly what I wanted to write about.  I knew I wanted to inspire, but I couldn’t figure out if I wanted the inspiration to come from my experiences as a military wife, my passion for being healthy, what I have learned about making a marriage great, or the trials and tribulations of motherhood.  For a few years, I quietly contemplated and listened for that voice, the one telling me to write, for an answer.  I knew who’s voice it was, and I wanted to make sure I listened closely so I would get it right.  One day, when I was tired of feeling a loss of identity from being a stay-home mom, I decided that I was going to create a job for myself.  My job would be to write.  My writing would be directed towards military wives.  I would write to inspire them to embrace the lifestyle upon which they have embarked.  After my decision, I immediately felt a sense of ease come over me and I knew I had heard the right answer.  Why it took so long to hear, I do not know.  But God has his plans.  He finally spoke, and I listened.   

2. To share what I have learned through my experiences
    Military wives share many similarities in what they must deal with in their lives, but every wife’s interpretations are different.  We interpret the events in our lives based on our feelings, fears, beliefs, values, past events, and the list goes on.  Two wives whose husbands are going on the same deployment are experiencing the same situation, but will interpret it differently based on the individual variables in each one’s life.  There will always be a wife who is moving along just fine at the same time as another wife is struggling.  I think it is extremely important that military wives share their experiences and interpretations with other wives.  By learning how other women deal with similar circumstances, we can build on what we already know and become stronger as a result.  As women, it is easy to appear strong on the outside but be torn apart on the inside.  Chances are someone we know has been in the same boat and has gotten through it.  I have been so blessed with the nature of my circumstances thus far in that none of them have been debilitating, but there have been several times when I was greatly discouraged and in need of a helping hand. I am hoping that I can use my experiences to lend a hand to someone else who may need it.

3. To share the things that inspire and encourage me

Since I was a little girl, I have had a genuine ability to seek out what is positive in the world.  Perhaps it is a spiritual gift, or it could simply be part of my genes.  I remember in high school other kids would get annoyed with me because they wanted to be negative and I tried to point out the positive point of view.  (I can’t imagine how today’s teenagers would react to that!)  But I didn’t let them get me down.  It made me feel good to stay positive and no one was going to stop me.  Fast forward to the world of adulthood and responsibility, I started to become negative.  Life really is hard!  After a while of disappointing myself with the amount of negativity running through my head, I decided I needed to find the positive again.  The group of women I hung out with started a bible study which enabled me to see that the bible is an excellent manual for those looking for encouragement.  I found several verses that spoke to me and helped me keep my head up.  I also received a gift from a good friend made up of cards with verses and quotes on them for each week my husband was deployed.  This gave me something to focus on each week and help me stay positive through the deployment.  I also have found that certain songs will motivate me to stay optimistic, so I try to listen to music when I am feeling low.  Everyone has their own list of things which inspire and encourage them to keep moving on.  By sharing my own, I feel like I can make a positive difference in people’s lives.  I have heard it said that smiles are contagious.  I am hoping that positive energy is contagious too, no matter how much misery loves company. 

4. Therapy
A few days ago, something very exciting occurred to me.  I have been writing this blog for six weeks, and for six weeks I have been sleeping better (I haven’t slept well for four years!), have experienced less anxiety, have been able to stay focused on the positive side of things, and the feeling of a loss of identity has diminished tremendously.  I think part of it is that I simply don’t have time to think about everything that bothers me because I’m too busy writing!  But it is also my therapy.  When I am writing, I am calm.  I am thinking clearly.  I am trying to find ways to inspire others, and end up inspiring myself while I’m doing it.  If writing ends up being a career for me, then I will have one happy life because it will be like getting paid to meditate!  I do hope to have a writing career someday, but for now this blog lends me enough to work on.  If I touch even one person’s life with my words, then I am happy, and happiness is nature’s medicine.  To all of my readers who have commented and expressed how my writing has helped you, thank you!  You, in turn, have helped me more than you know!