Article by Lisa Smith Molinari, Navy Spouse

Part and parcel of the military experience is The Military Move. Every few years, we are forced to “pull chocks”-that is, say good-bye to what has become familiar and settle in a new place. It’s tough, and sometimes we develop subconscious strategies to help us cope with the stress.

We settle our families into every duty station-be it Kentucky, California, Alaska, Arizona, Italy, Japan, or Florida. Even if it’s difficult at first, we eventually find our groove. The kids make friends, we get jobs, we find a pizza place, we join Bunco groups. As time passes, we incorporate local foods into our meals. We adopt local customs, we use local lingo such as “Yes Ma’am,” “You betcha,” “Prego,” and “Aloha.”

And just as we begin to embrace our new lifestyle, we get orders to someplace else. It never fails.

WHAT, ME COMPLAIN?

The good news is that military spouses won’t allow themselves to wallow in self-pity for long. After shedding a few tears- usually over a little wine and copious amounts of chocolate, or vice versa-we pick ourselves up again. We simply start seeing things differently. Our new orders may dictate that we must move from Paradise to Poughkeepsie (there are people this actual scenario has happened to), but somehow, we convince ourselves that we need a fresh start.

As for me, our new orders say that we have to move from the secluded Southern beaches of Naval Station Mayport, Fla., and settle in the chilly north, at the Naval War College, R.I. For real.

In the coming months before we pull chocks, I’m sure I will shamelessly blubber and hug my Mayport friends at a neighborhood fire pit. I will most likely feel no guilt as I gorge myself one last time on Southern fried chicken and biscuits. And I’m pretty sure I will get misty when I take one last shell walk on what has become “my beach.”

However, to ease the pain, my subconscious mind will say, “This duty station is the threshold of hell, and the new one will be WAY better. Seriously.”


MIND OVER REALITY

So, I can’t wait to move to Newport. Honestly. The quaint little towns. The ocean-splashed cliffs. The lobster. The quirky New Englanders with their funny accents and old-school mentalities. The Technicolor waterfalls and the frosty white winters.

I’m 100-percent certain. There’s not a doubt in my mind. No question about it: Our new duty station will be way, WAY better than this one … [gulp, sniff ] … Seriously.

4 SIMPLE WAYS TO EASE THE PAIN OF CONSTANT CHANGE:

On the off chance that the whole mind-over-matter thing isn’t working for you, here are some spouse-tested strategies for becoming slightly less miserable at the thought of your next move.

1) Become an Art Collector

Buy small prints or other collectable artwork from each duty station and hang them as a grouping on a wall in each new home. Looking at this ever-growing art display, your family can remember each place fondly while still looking forward to adding to the collection.

2) Recipes for the Heartache

Acquire a couple indigenous recipes from every duty station. Every place has it’s food. Kentucky Bourbon Balls, Alaska Poached Salmon, Georgia Peach Pie, Louisiana Gumbo, Norfolk Crab Dip – bring a taste of the past with you wherever you go, and look forward to the foods that may await you. (And remember: Some form of chocolate is available in every state of the union, as well as overseas destinations.)

3) Archive Your Contacts

photojournalistMeticulously maintain your address book so you won’t lose track of friends you’ve made. And always send out “We’ve moved!” cards so your friends will keep track of you. Takes a bit of effort, yes. But with all you’ve got to do for your next move, what’s one extra task?

4) Be a Photojournalist

Spend a whole afternoon on a photo-taking spree chronicling all the quirks, cool details and unexpected beauty of your current duty station. Capture big things (the entrance to your kids’ school) and small ones (the mailbox at your house or the little cluster of flowers that bloom outside your favorite store). Then create a glossy, hardcover book of those photos at Shutterfly.com that can grace the coffee table in your next living room.

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