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Predeployment Lists

May 4, 2016 by

Predeployment Lists

As we prepare for hubby’s next trip, there are a million crappy things we have to do before he leaves.  When I say crappy what I mean is really, incredibly, freaking awful. I’ve talked about the angst leading up to deployment before, and how much this sucks. I’d like to tell you that it gets better with every trip, but the truth is, even knowing what to expect doesn’t make the process any easier.

Its uncomfortable thinking about all the what-ifs of things that may happen on deployment and the conversations are more than a little awkward. The bottom line however is that he’s a soldier and it’s his job. #armylife #marriage Click To Tweet

So as we update Power of Attorney and talk about writing our very first wills, we stumble through the ideas of mortality, and how delicate our life together really is. We talk about burial and cremation and the ever-after that we may not spend together. We discuss how lucky we are and how blessed our paths have been. I’m certain that he’ll be fine, and we’ll be fine and his next trip really isn’t all that dangerous, but there is always that lingering worry.  So we make the tedious phone calls to suspend insurance on the truck and enact auto-pay on bills I may forget. We call someone to come and mow the lawn and we reduce our cable bill because I won’t watch that much…and we check days off the calendar faster than we’d like. And I worry.  As the months before he leaves get shorter and shorter– the anxiety about him actually leaving starts to set in. But of course I usually put on my “I’ve totally got this” face and soldier on, because he feels better about it when I’m being brave. Sometimes though, that’s easier said than done.

Especially today, when my handsome soldier husband grabbed his ASUs, freshly embroidered with his new rank to take to work so that he could have an updated “hero photo” taken.  My heart hurts just to think about the necessity of such a photo.  If you’re unfamiliar with the term “hero photo” just imagine the photos that I’m sure you’ve seen before, the ones with the bright-eyed, youthful soldier in his dress uniform staring out from the giant frame…propped on an easel before a flag-draped casket.  Yup. Those photos. The ones that simply make a soul ache.

So instead of dwelling, I make lists. List of things to do before he leaves, lists of paperwork to gather, lists of things I will do to keep busy while he’s gone, lists of home improvement projects I can do without his help, lists of things I need him to accomplish as he packs… Lists and lists and lists, because lists give me piece of mind and purpose. Lists I can control, I can check things off, I can make progress.

I’ve already told him I’ll refuse to use that damn Hero Photo should anything happen to him anyway… I think one of him flipping the camera the bird would be much more appropriate.

Pray for us. <3


You can also check out these resources here if you are looking for a checklist of items you MUST do before deployment.

USAA offers a nice printable for you and your spouse

The National Military Family Association has also compiled a list of resources

Lastly, Pinterest never lets me down. Check out these ideas for creating a deployment binder!

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Marriage & Anxiety: Strength in your spouse OR strain on your marriage?

Apr 29, 2016 by

Marriage & Anxiety: Strength in your spouse OR strain on your marriage?

It’s no secret around here that I have suffered from generalized anxiety disorder for years. There have been moments in this life that anxiety has completely shut me down, times when no amount of prayers or tears could drag me out of it. I’ve seen counselors, I’ve taken drugs, I’ve  learned all kinds of deep breathing exercises… There’s a moment I remember from my adolescent years where my high school boyfriend (bless his heart) tossed me into a cold shower for lack of any other way to figure out how to calm my anxiety.  **note, this is not the ideal method**

Anxiety makes me feel less like the person I want to be. #mentalhealth #anxietyisathing Click To Tweet

The truth is, anxiety inhibits my interactions with others, it lowers my ability to be social and it keeps me from functioning in the ways that I would like to. One of the only things that has made a significant difference in my anxiety levels in years is my marriage to my husband.  Marriage has been a rock solid foundation which has given me stability, faith in tomorrow, and a general calmness that I have never experienced before.

There are three major ways that my marriage has supported me in my quest to conquer my anxiety and although there are countless other times I have relied on my husband to support me through this, these things below are at the forefront of how a healthy marriage can help anxiety sufferers. 

  1. My marriage has built my hope and confidence.

I spent a ton of time in my early twenties feeling like I wasn’t good enough. To say I was in a rut would be an understatement!  I was in a long-term relationship that was going nowhere and felt like it must be because I was lacking some fundamental element that would encourage him to want to marry me. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, and why I was unlovable. My anxiety grew by leaps and bounds in this chapter of my life. Most of my thoughts swirled around the lack of hope I had for my future and my low confidence in myself. My self-esteem was lacking and I felt like there was nothing I could do to get out of this slump.

Since those moments when my husband and I promised to be true to each other through good times and in bad, in sickness and in health I have discovered that my most basic fears have been lifted.  When we stood at the altar of course, the last thing on our minds was the absolute guarantee that we were making to each other. I don’t think either one of us took into account the kind of “crazy” that comes with anxiety that cannot be explained with basic logic. I’m certain we weren’t calculating what that actually means “in sickness and in health”. I don’t think we thought about the ramifications that come with making that vow. My anxiety is definitely one of the larger issues and challenges we have faced as a couple and although it’s not what one thinks of when they think of a typical illness, it is a disease none the less. The beautiful thing is, no matter how big the challenge is, we signed up to tackle it together when we made those vows.

Dan’s approach to my anxiety has really been quite simple. He chooses to love me regardless, faces my anxiety like his next mission and knows that God put me into his hands for a reason. He is selfless about it, and amazing. He focuses on reminding me that we are on the same team, we are in this together, and boosts my confidence daily. Simply knowing that I do not have to handle any of life’s struggles alone, especially my anxiety has helped to alleviate the frequency of my panic attacks.

Since we’ve been married, my husband has told me I’m beautiful 239578 times. He holds my hand when I feel insecure, he reinforces our vows, he promises to never let me go…how can I fear the future when I have that?

  1. My marriage has helped to put my problems into perspective.

If something minor is causing my anxiety, we are able to talk through the details in a real and logical way to prove to my inner anxious self that everything is going to be OK.

Earth to Molly: the world is NOT spinning out of control!

Knowing that communication isn’t always easy, especially if I am suffering with some unrealistic anxiety or unmet expectations, I realize that sometimes talking through a panic attack isn’t a reasonable option. However, when my anxiety cannot be attributed to any identifiable triggers, it is important that someone helps to bring me back to reality. My husband can do that.

I feel like by working on our communication and talking through the little things I am able to get a better handle on what is truly important, what is really at the root of my emotions, and what things can trigger my anxiety. When an anxiety attack will hit me is extremely difficult to predict:  sometimes it can be brought on by truly life altering stressful situations (ie: hubby’s next deployment) other times a wave will come when I’m standing in the produce section on a lazy Sunday at the grocery store.

Because we are deeply invested in this marriage and have a true desire to understand each other we make an effort to communicate our feelings and thoughts regularly. That being said we aren’t always good at it, but his ability to try really helps me get a handle on the big picture. Dan’s ability to compartmentalize things, rationalize and ease my fears truly is what I rely on daily to understand how the world works around me. When he can crack a joke about what’s really happening, or change my perspective on a matter of minor importance it helps me to get a handle on what is really going on. Putting things into perspective in a way that I can understand and hold on to has been really helpful in crushing those anxious feelings.Exploring the benefits of a healthy marriage on anxiety symptoms. www.lovetheeveryday.com

  1. My marriage has helped to identify and minimize my anxiety triggers.

We spend a lot of time together. He knows me better than I know myself sometimes and he can see things in me that I cannot. By connecting our lives in marriage we have tethered ourselves for the long haul. Because of this, we are able to spend quality time investigating the ins and outs of my anxiety.

Together we have discovered some of the best ways to minimize my impending panic.  We now know that I am more likely to feel anxious when I don’t have a plan and a back-up plan. Dan is able to help me make lists and organize our day into a manageable order. In these ways we stop some of the anxiety in its tracks. I know that the weeks leading up to big changes are often the hardest. He’s pointed out that when I don’t get 8 hours of sleep I’m more likely to be triggered by something random, and when I’m hungry I’m just more prone to irrationality than other times.

We’ve also written down a list of the things that help me get through anxious situations (Drink very cold water. Turn off the radio. Pray. Count something. Make a list of what needs to be done next. Sit on the floor. Breathe. Hold something in my hands. Etc.) and he will tactfully remind me of them if I’ve forgotten.


The bottom line, of course, is that anxiety isn’t fun for anybody involved. It takes an infinite amount of patience and a whole bunch of trial and error. There are absolutely days when I want to wring his neck and moments when he totally shuts down and cannot help me. There are times when I want to scream at him (and I do) because he tries to logic-out my problems. There are days when he calls me “crazy” and I call him “mean” (toss a few curse words in here and there and sometimes it becomes a full-fledged battle). There are times when the tears outnumber the condolences. There are certainly times when anxiety gets the best of me and I am not the best version of myself. Sometimes my anxiety takes a pretty big toll on our marriage, and I know that my husband struggles to understand where I’m coming from and why I’m melting down. Anxiety is actually pretty tough on our marriage sometimes.


In collaboration with my friend Kristin, we’ve teamed up today to talk about how a healthy marriage can help anxiety and, on the flip side, how anxiety can put a negative strain a marriage.

To read the other half of this collaboration, head on over to Kristin’s blog, The Peculiar Treasure, to read about how anxiety can negatively impact a marriage.

**Kristin blogs regularly on The Peculiar Treasure but you can also locate her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Coping with Life Change

Mar 31, 2016 by

Coping with Life Change
Six years ago I was laid off. It doesn’t seem like that long ago when I think about it because the emotions are still pretty raw associated with this time period in my life.  Looking back on it now, I am able to see that God had a plan for me and thus doors needed to close. That chapter of my life is behind me, and I am thankful that I have moved on to other things. God gave me the strength to move forward to find the next chapter of the story.

I’m interested though in how others deal with tough life changes. For me, clearly, I have to write about them. I have to vent and get things out of my head. I have to pray too of course, but writing is truly how I get things out of my heart, how I clear my head, how I stumble through angst. But, being laid off impacted my heart. I couldn’t handle the mixture of hurt and grief, so I had to write things down…

Pink Slips and other things that suck…

I work hard. I do not have a cushy job like so many of you believe. I do not have weekends and summers “off”, I do not get to work only 9-5. I am good at what I do. I work hard for every penny that I make, and of those pennies I pay back my loans for my bachelors degree, I pay back my loans for my masters degree, I buy pens and paper and books for those that cannot afford it, I buy colored pencils and notebooks so that they can express themselves, I buy lunches for those that forgot, I spend money to further educate myself, I hand pennies over in support of extra curricular activities… I stay up late working and I get up earlier than I have to so that I can be to work early for them. I create, I engage, I write, I plan, I learn…I teach.

 

 

I honestly thought it would be pink. It’s not, in fact, a pink slip at all. It’s a plain, white, piece of paper with the same letterhead that only a few months ago boasted a huge, bold faced “Congratulations!” at the top. The same letterhead that told me at the end of the last marking period that more of my students were passing than the marking period before and that I was indeed doing a great job. I don’t even get the original. Just a photocopy, signed by the guy in charge, but delivered by my principal. I realize that he is probably having just as bad a day as I am, but that doesn’t make me any less bitter. At least I have been laid-off and not fired; it’s like an honorable discharge and not a “hey- you-suck-at-what-you-do-get-the-hell-out” notice. But it bites just the same.

 

 

I’m trying not to be a pessimist. I’m trying not to hate everything about my life. I’m not seriously considering launching myself out my second story window. (besides that would only hurt a whole hell of a lot and not end the whole game) I’m trying to remember the reasons why I do this in the first place, but it’s hard to do in a society that seems to be falling down around me. I have expectations in my classroom that my students treat each other with respect. I insist that they make choices and stick to the consequences that come from those choices. I instill upon them the value that they act like people that care about the well being of others. I’m sad that I am teaching them the rules and guidelines for life in a society that clearly does not exist. There was such a lack of respect in that little office as they told me that my position was being cut, it left me wondering how I can hope to teach my students respect when there are no clear examples from their superiors.

 

 

When it gets to a point like this it’s easy to fall back, to fall down, to just fall… and to question everything. Mostly though I find myself asking “why bother?” over and over. Why do I keep trying? Why don’t I use all my sick time, and pop in a video for my students? It’s then I remember the 110 faces awaiting me tomorrow, and I know that apathy won’t cut it. If I don’t care then they don’t care, and we’ve worked all year to boost their responsibility for their own education.

 

 

There is something that many people don’t think about. There is a face behind these layoffs. That face is me. I am not a number, I am not a price tag, and I am not a budget cut. I am a teacher and I make a difference in the life of a child.

 

 

What really gets my goat is that my school district is running an initiative that puts priority on literacy. On what planet does fewer teachers (especially English) and more kids in a classroom equal a positive learning opportunity?

 

 

So tomorrow Mr. Bossman, when you’re busy looking in the mirror for 122 minutes and 32 seconds, I’ll be reorganizing my lessons for the day, considering closing activities for my students, stressing about the student who told me she was experimenting with drugs, and thinking of ways to help the kid who just bombed my exam. When you stand there adjusting your tie and looking in the mirror, I’ll be busy adjusting my resume, making copies, and talking to the teenager who just broke up with her boyfriend… And please make sure you can look yourself in the eye and reflect, because I know when I see you in the hall you won’t be making eye contact with me.

 

 

Besides, I don’t do this for you anyway. I don’t do it for the pay check, or the experience, or because I needed something on my resume. I do it for them, and I’ll continue to do it until June. Even if you think you don’t need me, and the school doesn’t need me, and the community doesn’t need me…. They need me and that’s why I do what I do.

 

 


When life throws you a curve ball, how you react speaks volumes about your character. #change… Click To Tweet

 

 

How do you cope with drastic life change? What advice do you have for people dealing with events that are truly out of their control? How do you come to peace?

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Live for the moment: 6 ways to be present | be present

Mar 29, 2016 by

Live for the moment: 6 ways to be present | be present

Spring has sprung! And with it, a whole new set of anxieties… because as some of you may know, spring means we are one step closer to my husband’s next deployment and that scares the ever-lovin’ pants off me.

I’m not ready. I may never be ready. I’m so distracted I can’t go anything productive. I want to be involved in a massive spring cleaning of my home, but instead I find myself totally distracted by all the things we will need to get done before he leaves again. I’ve already started making lists despite the fact that his departure is still months away. I’m constantly thinking about him leaving, and about all the things that will happen while he’s gone. (His birthday, my birthday, the birth of our TWIN niece nephew, summer vacation….)and  I always chastise him about living in the moment and taking things one step at a time. Yet, here I am freaking out about things that won’t happen for a few more months. We have some outstanding home repairs that we haven’t gotten to, the car needs maintenance, we have to make sure the lawn mower will start…Do I still have valid power of attorney paperwork? Who is the new commander?  What numbers will I need to call in case of emergency? So many things. My brain starts to get overloaded and I begin to panic. I can’t breathe. I need a glass bottle of wine.

 

Aside from all of that I feel a little angry, a little bit in denial and a little bit sad. My emotions are all over the place because he really hasn’t been home all that long. And then, there’s the elephant in the room. The thing that we refuse to speak of….the fact that this trip is different and we don’t know what to expect. We know our communication during this trip will be different from how it has been in the past, less access to one another, less internet, less contact and I’m freaking out.  (I’m trying not to. We are deployment experts! But change is scary!)


Change is inevitable, but that doesn't make it less scary! Click To Tweet

So today I’m working on 6 ways that I can Live in the moment and be present, not only for my own sanity, but also to preserve our relationship for the next few months. I want to make sure we are using our time together to its fullest. I want to focus on making sure that I can be present with him while he is actually still here. be more present| 6 ways to live in the moment www.lovetheeveryday.com

I want to be HERE. I want to be part of the NOW. I want to be able to live in the moment.

6 Ways I will Live in the Now, Today:

  1. Turn up the music. Listening to music is immediately grounding for me. It makes me focus, it allows me to dance and sing, it drastically reduces my anxiety and boosts my mood. It allows me to connect moments to the present. Besides, it really annoys the dogs when I dance around the kitchen with the mop.

 

 

  1. Think about breathing. Every single article I read about being mindful and reducing anxiety swings back to the idea of breathing. My hubby talks about tactical breathing at his job, and how they train soldiers to focus on their breath in order to calm nerves and return focus. I plan to do some research on deep breathing exercises this week in order to help calm my own nerves. But until then, I’m going to work on paying attention to taking a few deep breaths now and then.

 

 

  1. Go outside! Nature, sunlight, a change in surroundings…all these things help me to focus, calm my fears and bring me back to peace. I know this about myself, but I bet it is true for most people. Besides once I get outside the dogs want to play, and nothing brings me back to now better than a game of fetch.

 

 

  1. Take a shower. I’m not kidding. There is something about the tactile feel of the water on my skin that shocks me back to the present. Not only is it soothing and refreshing, but it makes me feel connected to something. The changes in temperature and water pressure alert my senses, the smell of the citrus soap. Showers are powerful things.

 

 

  1. Eat slowly. Seriously. I eat so freaking fast. I feel like I’m constantly starving and I wolf down food like someone will steal it. I know part of this comes from teaching and trying to cram in lunch and potty breaks while also helping kids write papers and still managing to plan lessons for tomorrow….. but seriously, I need to slow down. When I chew slowly, even counting the number of chews it takes before I swallow I am instantly calmer. This gives me a moment to savor the flavor of what I am eating, to appreciate the texture or the crispness of my salad, to love the way the chocolate chips melt in my mouth. Do this. It helps.

 

 

  1. Pinch me. When all else fails, and I feel myself losing control…. I pinch my leg. I know this sounds dumb. But nothing will bring me back to reality faster than quick, controlled pain. It’s a quick and fleeting sensation that I can focus on, and it brings my thoughts back to what is happening right now.

 

What advice do you have to try to be mindful of living in the moment?

 

 

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Avoiding alcoholism while surviving pre-deployment

Jul 16, 2015 by

Avoiding alcoholism while surviving pre-deployment

Just googled “How to not strangle your husband in the weeks leading up to deployment”. No results.

We’ve been here before, in this limbo before leaving, and it makes us both a bit crazy. One would imagine that you’d start to get used to it, when you’re preparing for trip #4 in a three year time frame, but it doesn’t get any easier even when you know what to expect. It usually begins right when your brain realizes that your spouse is getting ready to leave in 11 weeks, 10 weeks, 9, 8, 7…..the mental countdown that you can’t admit out loud you are already hearing in your heart. Then, you realize you only have so many more weekends, so many more nights in the same bed, so many more date nights and walks with the dog and you want each and every one of those moments to be as perfect and love-filled as possible.  (Spoiler Alert: That perfect and love filled part doesn’t happen.)

Emotions can be unpredictable during this time. I don’t know what it is about preparing for deployment that makes my brain explode, but at the moment, every time I see my soldier I want to sock him square in the face with my fist…or something harder. Everything he does right now is the definition of annoying. (I know what you’re thinking: “How can she be like that with her husband about to leave to risk his life for American freedoms and she thinks he’s annoying!? What is wrong with her!?) The truth of the matter is, that counting down to the inevitable separation is horrible. His things are tossed all over the house in various stages of packing, lists are being made of the way too many things left to do before he’s gone, the stress is immeasurable. So yes, sometimes I do have the strong desire to high-five my hubby, in the face….. but other times I just want to hold on to him and never let him go. Pre-deployment angst is making me nuts.

The short version is: knowing that the love of your life is about to leave for the other side of the world is really, incredibly, emotionally difficult. No matter how many times you’ve endured it before. And he’s no ray of golden sunshine either. The emotions he faces as he gets ready to leave are equally daunting and cause some serious behavioral and personality changes in him as well.

I spoke to a few of my milspouse friends recently about it, just briefly mentioning that we were a tiny bit stressed at our house, to which they all replied “it’s normal”,  and “just hang in there”…well, it may be normal, but it still sucks, ok?

But I remember the last time, and I do know that if I “just hang in there” this phase will pass. Because it seems to come and go in phases.

Phase 1: Imaginary Normal

This is where we pretend that there is no trip looming on the horizon. We may know the approximate dates and maybe even have a quick conversation about how we really ought to get the deck stained before he leaves, but we go on pretending that nothing has changed. Sometimes, in the back of my mind, I even pretend that there was a little mistake and someone ELSE was supposed to get those orders…imaginary. This is the easy part. The part where you brain can go on believing that life isn’t about to change again.

Phase 2: Anxiety, Angst, and Homicidal Feelings

This is where we are now. When there is no more pretending. There’s stupid arguments and stress. There’s an empty tuff box in the living room waiting to be filled, and the idea of the impending loneliness is constantly in the back of our minds. We fight a little more than we are used to, and spend quiet alone time, maybe preparing ourselves for the alone time that we know is about to come. I can’t help the thoughts that creep into my head at all hours of the night, keeping me awake: “How is this happening again so soon? I don’t want to do this.”

Phase 3: List Making

This comes next and often much closer to the actual leaving day. (Maybe we should start it now though because it really does help us both to manage some of the anxiety).  We both start to make separate lists. I usually have two: Things that need to get done or be purchased before he leaves, and Things that I will do after he has gone. He generally makes packing lists. We dive head first into these lists with single-minded determination, believing that as long as every item gets checked off the list then everything else is going to be fine.

Phase 4: The Guilt Ridden Horrible Wife Days

You know what I’m going to say here, I know you do. “The sooner he’s gone the sooner he can come back”…. “I wish he’d just get out of here so I can get on with my life.”….”If he would just leave already then I could figure out how to cope with this.”  I get to the point where the endless waiting gets the best of me and I truly just want him to leave. (NO OF COURSE I DON’T ACTUALLY WANT HIM TO LEAVE!) (Ok, maybe sometimes I do.) I can create a good and solid routine for my life when he’s deployed, but these long days waiting for him to deploy are painful and crazy and once he’s gone life will get back to normal. And then, I catch myself thinking those things and I am overcome with guilt.  And I feel so guilty that I cook him his favorite meals and I dig out the sexy night gowns and I try really hard to be positive and happy… and I know he feels guilty too, because he secretly wants to get on with his mission as well. I know this because he buys the super sized bags of dog food and carries them in for me so that I won’t have to while he’s gone.

7 Phases of PreDeployment   www.lovetheeveryday.com

 

Phase 5: The Honeymoon

Somewhere in there, in the last few days before he leaves we always have one really awesome day. I call it the last best day, I think I read that in a book somewhere. (You never know when the last best day is going to be so you don’t get to admire this day until after he’s left).  We remind each other that we are on the same team and that we can do this. We hold hands and kiss a lot. And it’s nice. I like to look back on this day when I’m feeling particularly self-piteous in the next phase.

Phase 6: Wallowing

This phase comes after. After the goodbyes and the hugs and the dropping off. This starts for me the moment I turn the door knob into my now eerily empty home. This is important, because if I’m not careful I will start to wallow before he even leaves. I’ll find myself feeling bad for myself about his leaving, and he’ll still be sitting there on the couch with me. (Don’t do this). I give myself a week to wallow, to drink too much and to eat ice cream right out of the carton for dinner, or breakfast, or whatever. I let myself wear his t-shirts to bed and I cry. Then, it’s game one.

Phase 7: Rock it

I realize that this is not technically pre-deployment but as we struggle through these pre-deployment weeks it is important for me to remember that this phase is on the horizon. This is the phase where I become a superhero, rock star and kick Deployment’s butt. My super-hero-ness isn’t polished like some of the amazing milspouses I know, but it’s pretty damn good. This is the part where you suddenly are able to do everything that needs to be done, which used to take two people, but now can be done (awesomely) by one. This is where I learn how to balance life again, make it to Ladies Night, attend church on a regular schedule, head to the gym, kick butt at work and remember to pay the mortgage on time. (Of course there will be those moments when you forget to take out the trash on trash day that reduce you to tears, but that’s for another post, this one is about being a rock star).

 

Because it is hard to deal with the snapping at each other, which seems to get worse with every passing day...but I am an Army Wife, and I can do this. (And so can you.) Click To Tweet

I have faith that God will see us through this trying time, as well as guide us through the impending deployment…but that doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with it. I’m imperfect. I struggle to be a good wife and to be an encouragement to my husband during this time. This is a learning process, no matter how many times we’ve been through it before.

 


You can find this post linked up here and here. Check out the links for access to some really excellent bloggers. <3

 

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