I’ve been a military spouse for a longish (ahem) time. Well, over 25 years, to be exact.
While in some ways it’s gone by in a flash, I will admit that there are moments when I feel like I’ve seen it all, heard it all, have all the t-shirts…and I can honestly become a bit jaded about this whole military spouse thing.
But then I remember you. Yes, YOU, young military spouse!
You, with your energy and your ideas.
You, with your enthusiasm for the newness of military life and your positivity.
You inspire me, make me laugh, and help me remember what this is all about.
While serving together as advisers to the board of a spouses’ group, one of my friends mentioned to me, “Those ladies are so organized and amazing. They could each run their own company!” And it’s true. You sure do keep me on my toes. So, without further fanfare, here are the top five things I’ve learned from younger military spouses:
5. Your energy is contagious!
Not only do you take care of each other, you take care of everyone else.
Is someone sick? The spouses will bring them chicken soup and pick up their kids from school!
Did someone in the military community suffer a hardship? The spouses will organize a fundraiser, bring meals, and help out in any way imaginable.
Now granted, spouses of all ages pitch in on these sorts of things as well, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen mommies with strollers or babies in back carriers passing out drinks at a deployed spouses’ dinner, feeding the airmen living in the dorms, or showing up for “town hall” meetings.
I get tired just watching you. You know what else? You take care of me, too.
When I need pushing out of my comfort zone, a friend to get me out of the house, or just a smile, you’re there. I need you!
4. If you can’t find an opportunity, create one!
When AJ Smit’s husband was at boot camp, she decided to follow one of her own dreams, making a living as a “mermaid.” With a background in performing arts and teaching children, she’s been able to use her talents in a unique way, combining her love of children, performing, and all things mermaid.
She DIDN’T sit around, lonely, hoping for something to happen; she made it happen. And come to find out, she and her husband ended up in Hawaii where she is able to put her skills to good use as a special visitor at parties!
In AJ’s words, “It’s a ‘fintastic’ experience to be a mermaid–seeing kids believe again in the magic of possibilities, encouraging them to use their imagination, even occasionally inspiring adults to do something they love and always dreamed of doing, even if it seems impossible. Shell, I’m a mermaid. Anything’s possible.”
For spouse Lana Simmons, her journey to weight loss and health was personal. However, after reading statistics which showed the high incidence of regaining lost weight, she realized she needed the support of her community.
With the assistance of the base gym and dietitian and other resources, she began a weight loss contest for military spouses and the “Change Your Life” program was born.
Not only did Lana lose 100 pounds herself, she has inspired countless other women, and also started the program at another base! Last year, she completed the “Swamp Romp” race in Hawaii, along with other CYL Participants.
Lana says, “The spouse club gave me a supportive place to nurture and grow my idea and build my own confidence in the program. I know I couldn’t have done this without their support…I’m not sure where else I would have received this kind of support? Definitely not in a work environment; it’s way too competitive. I feel like I am where I am today because of all these different women who came into my life.”
3. Life is exciting!
I’ll admit, by the time we’d hit our THIRD overseas move, I was kind of over it. It’s easy to focus on the inconveniences, yet I figured something out.
Looking around me with the eyes of a brand new military spouse reminds me how exciting this military life can be, and what amazing opportunities we have! Listening to young spouses talk about their first overseas move, culture shock, and their first time truly traveling the world is a good reminder to not to take these things for granted.