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

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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!

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.

Changes after Physical Trauma.

Taking up new obsession after cross fit.

Life after physical trauma can leave us with many negative thoughts and reactions – how we emotionally conquer these is half the battle!

After trauma, life changes and it generally changes for a lifetime. We have to reevaluate our day to day journey and the one we often took for granted – we have to learn how our new journey will take place.

Life for me prior to my SCAD / Heart Attack was busy, active and one that was simple. Prior to our posting to the US, I worked full-time in a primary school that I absolutely loved, was busy chasing the kids from activity to activity, had a husband in command, social activities were a plenty, two dogs that needed to be walked everyday, a spin bike that needed riding, I enjoyed the occasional drink(s).

We had never contemplated me becoming so close to not being here.

Life now, 8 months post SCAD / Heart Attack is still busy chasing the kids, still active but not quiet as simple as it onces was. I am currently not working due to being in the US and to be honest, I couldn’t work full time at the moment – the tiredness would see me napping under a desk.

Two of the biggest hurdles have been finding a new pace to keep active, keeping my mental health in check and embracing this new way of life.

I’ve discussed before my love for lifting weights and hammering it out in the gym, these days the activities I do are walking, indoor cycling (no hills) and playing golf. The pace is totally different and one that I am coming to terms with. The irony of my SCAD & Heart Attack is that I was doing everything in my power to keep my heart and body healthy – cardio, strength training, good diet and plenty of sleep and it seems that my love for hammering it out in the gym literally tore my artery….crazy!

The biggest mental battle I have is the medication – I am terrible at taking medication. I don’t like taking paracetomol for a headache so taking 8 tablets a day is just something I have to do but not something I will get used to – I do know it’s not forever and appreciate the benefits of why I’m taking it.

I have aways been fairly body conscious and stuggle most days with the way my body looks and the way it’s feeling at the moment. I try to focus on the the healthy points – my heart is strong, my artery has healed and I am alive. My husband is amazing and always tells me that he would rather have me a little rounded than not here…love the man for loving me the way I am.

For SCAD, the chance of reoccurence is about 30% and this sometimes plays on my mind – the what if’s. I don’t dwell on this number and I am certainly not living my life consumed by the number, nor do I think about it daily. I am aware, listen to my body and would rather live my life taking the advice and medical knowledge we currently know to ensure my heart stays strong but without putting undue pressure on it (no crossfit).

My family has also been impacted by the changes and the way we communicate on a daily basis has especially changed. I ensure that if I miss a phone call or receive a text from either my husband or kids, I reply asap. A wait in reply doesn’t necessarly send them into panic mode, but it does make them a little anxious. If I am going for a walk, shower or a nap, I send a quick text to let them know and one after when I am finished – I am certain this will tapper off but not just yet. It gives them a little piece of mind.

We all go through changes whether from a physical trauma, loss, move, change in circumstances, how we move forward is part of the challenge. My journey is still going forward:)

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.

Being Thankful this Thanksgiving:)

As a Aussie family in the US we will be celebrating Thanksgiving with a traditional turkey and pumpkin pie for dessert (we will go without candied yams (sweet potato and marshmellos).

As I sit and ponder the process for the day, what time to put the turkey in and how many people will be filling our house – we like to open our home to those that are not travelling to family or those that are not having family visit – another part of Military Life, I cannot stop thinking about all that I am Thankful for.

I am thankful to be here to celebrate with my family and to welcome new friends and old into our home.

I am thankful for my husband who I have always loved and admired and for the man he is today. It’s been a journey for us and has certainly made our marriage even stronger.

I am thankful for our children who keep me busy, who understand when I need a nap and who keep me laughing and smothered in love, even if they are laughing at my grey hair. It’s the hugs and the ‘love you mumma’ that I am thankful for the most.

I am thankful for the love and support that we have received this year from those we love and for those who we had only just met.

I am thankful for the generosity of those we live near.

I am thankful for the phone calls, text messages, facebook messages I have and still am recieving from people checking in to see how my beating heart is. I understand how busy everybody is but am truly thankful that these are ongoing – our lives are filled with amazing people.

I am thankful for those that have offered their prayers for our family and for those that paused to think about us.

I am thankful that I have found the joys and frustration that is the game of golf to keep my mind focused, body moving and some amazing ladies to laugh with.

I am thankful for those that have joined me on my blogging journey and for taking the time to read, share and follow.

No matter where we are, we do not need a Thanksgiving holiday to be thankful. Be kind, give somebody a helping hand, make that phone call, tell somebody you love them, give that hug, cook that meal for somebody, write that note and be the best version of you!

Don’t take anyone for granted, be thankful for the people in your life, show them love, show them kindess

Grief – There is no right or wrong way!

Each year we read and learn more about not only the impacts of grief but the way we deal with and support others going through grief.

Grief impacts our lives in ways that we ourselves don’t understand and grief can come from many different areas in our lives, the death of a family member, a traumatic personal experience, illness of a loved one, personal injury and sickness which has lead to a change in ones current life, loss of property or the family pet.

For me, I am a sensitive person, my emotions readily show whether it’s written on my face, my open tears falling and I am that person who will cry with happy and sad occasions. For many, the inability to express emotion whether openly or personally can often be seen as cold or in a sense a product of upbringing or employment. I am a strong believer that grief is a personal experience and the way that a person expresses their own grief is a journey for that person only.

My children for instance are very different people, they show their emotions at very different times and in different ways. I have two that are very emotionally strong but are sensitive over things they are passionate about, they are caring and show great empathy to every person they come across, however, they are both not big criers, even in difficult or sad times. They are able to regulate their emotions to the situation and look at things very rationally. One, is very sensitive and can be quick to show emotion – whether its frustration, disappointment or genuine sadness, little eyes will well very quickly. All three of my children have certain triggers when all eyes will well – The Last Post will send all of them in to flooding silent tears.

A person needs to be able to grieve in their own personal way and without judgement! Whether you are a person who openly cries, a person who can regulate emotions during difficult times, a person who cries in the shower, a person who looks down during services taking it all in – your grieving process is yours.

The greatest gift you can give somebody who is grieving is unconditional support, speak of the reason for their grief, if somebody has passed – speak their names and if needed, just sit! For the person going through grief – this is your journey and there is no right or wrong way.