Lessons I have learnt as a Mil. Spouse and from other Military Spouses.😀

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As a Military Spouse, we get to experience so many levels of emotion and change. For me, the past 22 years have been challenging and amazing. We have said many ‘see you soon’s to our Soldier and to those around us. We have meet and made so many wonderful friends across the globe, shared wonderful times and of course said many goodbyes.

I am proud of they way I have been able to conduct myself and have never been caught up in the battle of spouses and spouses ranks. I have, however been on the other side where my husband’s rank has been significant for other spouses. There have been times when I have been introduced as Mrs Mulligan, the wife of insert rank Mulligan and have had spouses not engage in a conversation either because my husband was an Officer or a lower/higher rank than their spouse – I admire people for being themselves and for the way they conduct themselves as people not because of who they are married too (regardless of military or civilian)

Below you will find some amazing words of wisdom and guidance from spouses I have been fortunate enough to be on this crazy journey with.

Kindness

Always choice kindness. Surround yourself with positive people, especially during a deployment and avoid drama as much as necessary.

Spouses Rank

Don’t wear your spouses rank, be approachable because we were all that junior wife at some stage and we were all intimidated by the more “seasoned” wives.  

Your spouse is the rank wearer. Never confuse that with your role. I am not in the military therefore I am a spouse…not a LTC.

Inclusion

Always provide an inclusive environment. Everybody wants to be a part of something and to feel welcome. Remember we were all newbies at one stage and in fact everytime we pcs / post to a new location we are that person again.

Experience

Share your experience and guidance but do so in a kind and non patronising manner. Whilst we are all going through the same things (deployments, field exercises, long absenses, courses) we all manage differently and by sharing your experience you may just help somebody else.

Get Involved

Get involved in your surroundings, the Unit, the Squadron, the Battalion. This does not mean you have to immerse yourself in everything military, but knowing who to contact in an emergency, where you can gain support and meet people.

Attend family functions, parades.

Try to get involved in something you enjoy whether it’s a job, volunteering, taking classes, getting together for a play group with others mums, etc. the more you reach out and form positive relationships with others the better your experience will be.

Get involved quickly – you meet the most amazing people that way. Focus on the amazing things the military brings – great opportunities, new people and new places – and amazingly resilient children.

Support

Remember that we are all in this together and that we need to support each other not judge each other. Surround yourself with like minded people.

Support each other, support the Unit, the Squadron, the Battalion and Family Support Groups, Defence Community Organisations.

Look for opportunities to help others out, especially if you are feeling down or isolated. It will bless you as much as those you are helping and if you ever have a need you won’t feel so bad about asking for help.

Find a good friend who enjoys a wine (& a whine!) and you’ll be fine!!

Stay true to yourself

If you have something you enjoy doing keep doing it, if hubby is home still do what you enjoy (it is only going to be be a few hours).

Faith

If faith is important to you I would encourage you to grow deeper in this area. The knowledge that there is a grand plan and they are never truly alone even though sometimes it feels like it is extremely comforting.

Communication

Is what keeps an army marriage healthy, find the time after both having busy days to talk, this way there is no second guessing, you both know how each other are at that time and what is happening in the family.

Calendar

Always get a rough calendar from your spouse (if possible) of events, field excerises etc so you can plan yours and kids lives whilst he or she isn’t there.

Try not to get stressed about things you have no control over.

Understand that while your spouse wants to spend more time with you and the family his job is such that the mission comes first and it is inevitable that he/she will miss birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays… it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you.

Posting / Duty Stations

Make the most of the places you are posted to.

Every job and duty station in the military is temporary but at the end of the day family is the most important so nurture those relationships even if it means sometimes making sacrifices.

You will almost always be stationed away from family so do not be afraid to create family from those around you.

Don’t compare the places you live to one another. Just go to the next PCS, plug in and hunt the good stuff!!

Gossip and Private Situations

Speak positively about your spouse and your children to others and work through challenges between the two of you or with the help of a professional instead of “airing dirty laundry” to anyone willing to listen.

Spouse gossip doesn’t just hurt the spouses in the rear, it makes things harder for the troops on the front line as well (from a US Commander).

1998 – my first year as a spouse.

To me, being a Military Spouse is an amazing honour. One that I am proud to be. To my battle buddies across the globe, Thank You! Thank you for the sacrifices that you make each day, thank you for the support you have given me, thank you for the laughs, tears and wine we have shared.

Thank you for your wisdom in the words above, for guiding me and mostly thank you for being you!

A little 'Mind Fog'!

This week I admit has been a little tough mentally! The weather is grey and so is my mind. I’m not sad or concerned, I’m just caught in a funk due to the weather.

Yes, I am a warm weather, sun loving girl! The snow is beautiful when it’s falling and and I am sure if we were on a specific snow holiday it would be amazing. Living in it is completely different, the melting snow, the slush is not so beautiful.

My whole family has cabin fever, cabin fever for the golf course, the sun, the vitamin D and for being outdoors – yes there is plenty that we could still do outside but we are warm blooded soles.

The weather affects me mentally, it makes my mind feel as clouded as the sky and only the sun shining warmly will fix it. Whilst I am in this funk, I have however managed to keep my body active thanks to the treadmill and spin bike. I have been sticking to my goals made earlier in the year and have been enjoying (up until this week) walking outside most days with some great ladies.

To help with this fog, I have ejoyed some reading on SCAD in the news, looked at holiday plans and binged watched some tv…….how do you clear your mind fog?

2020 – Making Goals not Resolutions

39 Weeks post SCAD & Heart Attack

As we welcome a New Year we often set ourselves resolutions that we rarely stick to for more than a few weeks or months. I too have been guilty of setting myself unrealistic or unattainable resolutions.

This year I have set GOALS and not RESOLUTIONS and to understand why we first need to look at the definition of both and from there we will understand why this is the perfect way to ring in the new year.

A goal as defind by Lexico is The object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. https://www.lexico.com/definition/goal. or by Cambridge as an aim or purpose: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/goal

Cambridge defines a resolution as a promise to yourself to do something: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/resolution.

By setting ourselves goals and not resolutions we are giving ourselves something to work towards, an attainable achievement. A goal can be achieved by working towards smaller goals, smaller achievements along the way – a place were small progress is made and seen. Once we start setting ourselves resolutions, we are promising ourselves to do something, this in itself is often unattainable as we set ourselves one major promise without being able to celebrate each and every small step along the way.

Resolutions around the world are predominantly centred around weight loss, fitness, healthy eating and saving money – all with one set number or achievement in mind. Whether you are wanting to loose 5kg or 50kg, save $1000 or $40000, run 1km or 42km setting smaller goals will help make this achievable and you will be able to celebrate the smaller victories along the way – helping to keep you focused and on the way to complete your journey.

Now to me, no resolutions only goals. The goals I have set this year are also along the same line – fitness, weight loss, healthy eating and saving money. These goals are not extreme, I am not looking at running a marathon, loosing 50kg or saving vast amounts of money. What I have set are the following and the reason for these is also set out.

1. Walk Outside – this might sound crazy but since my SCAD & heart attack in April I have not been for a walk outside by myself other than to do the groceries. I have been walking on the treadmill in our basement. I want to get back to being comfortable to walk a few km outside in the fresh air. (quick update – my mum had been visiting during Christmas from Australia and we were also dog sitting – we walked everyday and I am excited to share that on the 1st of January I went for my first 2km walk with just myself, the dog and fresh air. It was amazing and has meant I accomplised for first goal of 2020, I have also been everyday since).

2. Swim – as my SCAD and heart attack symptoms began in the swimming pool after I had been swimming medley every four minutes with a minute rest in between I have been frightened to return to the pool. My goal this year is to jump back in (new swimmers purchased as the ones I was wearing were cut from me during the emergency). Swimming will again be different than before – no butterfly and not backstroke, simple freestyle and breaststroke.

3. Fitness – continue rebuilding following my SCAD & Heart Attack in April. Cross fit will never again be apart of my plan but walking, swimming, biking and golf are all attainable. With my golf, I aim to being more consistant and to get a handicap.

4. Weight – my heart medication has played a big part in my weight gain after initially loosing 10kg from the heart attack and recovery. Whilst I am still on the medication (8 tablets a day) I hope that will more regularly moving I can shift a little weight. Small increments but my heart health is the most important.

5. Medication – I see my Cardiologist in March and hope that some of my medication can be futher reduced. He is my person and I trust his medical advice.

5. Money – Team Mulligan have some big plans for when we return to Australia this year. We have set ourselves several money goals this year and if we stick to our budget, all with be attainable and we will be travelling in comfort next year.

I look forward to reaching my little goals along the way, celebrating the best of me and enjoying the challenges that the journey presents along the way.

I wish you the very best for your goal setting in 2020. Go ahead, be brave, be consistant and follow the journey.

Celebrating Christmas as a Military / Defence Family🎄

As a Military / Defence Family we quiet often celebrate Christmas away from our blood families, however, this does not mean we don’t celebrate or celebrate with ‘family’. Australia’s posting cycle is a major factor in Christmas plans – we usually get to spend one Christmas in our home in the posting location we are at as we are usually packing up a house and moving our life to somewhere new. December is the peak posting (PCS) cycle for us, it’s hot, the school year has finished and summer holidays have started.

One of the many joys of being a military family is getting to meet and form close relationships with other families all in the same boat – away from their own families.

This year we are lucky to have my mum visiting from Australia and although we were hoping she would have a white Christmas, it doesn’t seem likely (we had a big dumping of snow prior to her arrival). Whilst this takes our family count to 6, we will have a house full and a table set for 21!

We are excited to be welcoming other Military families into our home for Christmas who are also international and have no family here. The table will be set filling both the dining room and living room with 6 people from Australia, 4 from New Zealand, 3 from America, 4 from Spain and 4 from Brazil. Lunch will be a multicultral experience with roast lamb, roast vegetables, turkey, glazed ham, potato bake, cheesy brocoli, corn, peas, trifle, pavlova, Spanish wine and desserts also from Brazil and Spain.

The chatter filling the house will be vast and a learning experience for us all. The Spanish and Brazilian families working on their English and the rest of us excited to learn about other cultural experiences and Christmas traditions. Our eldest and the children from Spain and the eldest from Brazil know each other well and spend quiet a lot of time together both in and out of school, this will be a great memory for them to share.

Today, we had our Christmas photo taken with Santa while at Bass Pro. This year like some previous are shared with other special people joining in our photo. Today was Matilda, friends of ours from the UK who are also here on Exchange. Matilda is great friends with our daughter and she came along to spend the day. She is in the front row of our photo and we love that she joined in – more memories to share and treasure.

Christmas as a Military / Defence family may seem at times quiet and separated from the usual experience that families have at this time of year – we have shared many Christmas’s in motels, once at West Point Acadamy asking the Night Manager to write a note for the kids explaining they need to find their presents under a motel Christmas tree (they searched under 3 trees) and Christmas’ with family and friends.

From our family to yours, no matter what you believe or where you are – have a very Merry Christmas a happy & safe holiday.

Christmas can also be a lonely period for the Military / Defence Family with members on deployment, recalled from leave and those who we have lost. Consequently, spare a thought, say a prayer, open your home to other families and create new memories.

Taken at Christmas 2018 in South Dakota.
The Christmas stockings are our childrens and they travel with us every Christmas we are on the road.

Defence / Military Kids

As a mum of three, my children change every day. Children from all walks of life have challenges, morals and lifestyles that are different. My focus today is on Military Kids and I certainly appreciate that their challenges are far from challenges other children around the world.

Military kids are known for their Resilience. The lifestyle that they are born into is one of constant change. For this reason they are usually very adaptable. Adaptable to change, surroundings, people and situations. Their resilience is to be commended, embraced and nurtured.

Military kids are generally kind, thoughtful and very aware of their surroundings and of others. They have said goodbye to more people by the time they are 18 than most people do in a lifetime. This helps make them understanding and open.

Military kids are strong. They are strong at times that matter however, this does not make them immune to emotion. These kids are aware of the difficulties faced by others and their own families. They generally are happy to jump right in to help others and stand up for what they believe is right.

Military kids can be fiercely independent. They come from homes that are regularly in upheaval, with the serving member away or in a high tempo area. They are taught from a very early age the importance of independence, they still need help but are very capable of handling situations that other children may not.

Military kids are proud! Not all show this openenly, often they are unsure what the response will be for others – don’t dampen their spirit. Let them and encourage them to be proud of their Military family.

Military kids have a great sense of humour – let them laugh.

Military kids are supportive to other military kids. They give each other strength and an amazing support system. Sometimes without words they bring comfort to others.

Military kids generally have a more worldly view on life. They are open and aware of different cultures and diversity – this is a great thing.

Military kids are unique, brave and incredible souls.

What I have learnt as a Military Spouse😃

The life as a Military Spouse is nothing short of an adventure. Plans are made and plans are changed. As I think about my life as a Mil Spouse there are some things I have come to understand.

1. Not everybody will like you and thats ok.

2. Be yourself…..always.

3. Be kind and honest.

4. Be welcoming.

5. Don’t judge or assume you know someone – the Military world is a small one. You will always meet somebody who somebody else has known and you will have a preconceived idea of what or who that person is – make your own decision.

6. You can’t make everyone happy – just as it is every day, not everybody will want to do something or like the planned idea.

7. Officer spouses want to get to know you just as much as the younger and newer spouses too – time has changed, it’s not the way it was.

8. People don’t always want to go along to Unit / Battalion functions / coffee groups etc but they do want to know that support is available.

9. Do support the Unit / Battalion when you feel up to it and can – not all Units / Battalions support the families as much as others – keep it going.

10. Always have a plan A, plan B and even a plan C.

11. Never rely on dates and timings – things change and can change quickly.

12. There is a lot of paperwork involved in a move and the computerised version does not always update or save correctly.

13. Always move with your eyes and mind open – you just might enjoy it.

14. Two years goes very quickly, particularly if you are loving your posting.

15. It’s easier to be the one saying ‘see you later’ than to be the only one staying.

16. Friends become family.

17. Be flexible.

18. Things will always break or stop working as soon as they leave.

19. Deployments are tough but you can do it.

20. Homecomings can be tough, but you can do it too.

21. Surround yourself with good people, experience new things, take on a new hobby.

22. Keep a journal during deployments and other absences.

23. Sometimes, no expectation are the only way – this way, nobody is disappointed.

24. Most importantly, stay true to yourself.

Leave a comment below and let me know what you have learnt as a Mil Spouse. There are many more lessons, tid bits I have learnt about Miltary spouse life but I know that you don’t have all day to read along;)

Back to school blues – not just for the kids!

Across many states in the US after nearly 3 months, Summer Vacation is over – school resumes tomorrow, alarm clocks are set (way to early), school supplies are purchased (expensive), teachers and schedules have been released and the house will become very quiet.

Whist many kids will be suffering from back to school blues, I will be joining them!

I have always been the parent that loves having the kids home from school. I like the disorganised days where they are happy to be home, no set breakfast times and the lazy start to the days. I like being able to plan our days as we go, to enjoy family time without the interruption of school.

Summer vacation for us this year has not been like others, we didn’t treak half way across the country taking in everysight and sound possible. We enjoyed pure family time, small trips to visit friends and really taking a step back from what has been a crazy time.

I know the kids will hit head on the back to school blues, they will be grumby for the first few days and then the routine and expections will replace those blues (ready for a whole new set of blues to set in as assignments etc come in to play). This year they will start at their schools on the very first day and will not be the new kid, they will be their usual confident and welcoming selves, and for this, I am so grateful.

For me, the thought of that quiet house and not filling my days with the kids will be something new for me. Usually, I too am returning to school, embarking on the challenges of a new school year and relishing being around collegues and students, both new and old.

This year, I will battle the back to school blues, but I too will hit them head on.

Mrs Mully will be tackling new challenges, planning new adventures and I am ready.