A woman journaling while sipping coffee.

The Year Of …

Before we know it 2022 will be in the rearview and we will be ushering in 2023. The last few years have been unprecedented in many ways and starting with a clean slate is something many people are looking forward to. Along with the new year come the resolutions — motivation is usually high, and we start off with good intentions. For many of us somewhere along the way, resolutions are left in the rearview as well, just like the past year.

What would happen if we reframed resolutions into the mindset of making 2023 “The Year Of …”? The concept is simple. Take time to think about what it is you want to change or bring about in 2023 and instead of thinking of it in terms of a New Year’s resolution, it becomes something bigger. An entire year dedicated to one concept. I’ve seen people do a year of health, a year of reading, a year of less screen time.

You may be asking “What’s the difference?” By choosing one thing to focus on and giving it front and center awareness and intention for one year, you may find there is more time to cultivate and tend to your choice. Don’t want to start all gangbusters after the holidays? You can immerse yourself slowly, taking your time. Something in your plan isn’t working? That’s okay, you can try new ways of doing things and see what works. In many ways, this gift of slow and steady takes the pressure off having to “do” resolutions right. This can allow us to approach our goal and focal point with curiosity and truly see what works. This flexibility is of particular importance considering the changes in military life. A year of intention toward something will look so different from month to month, season to season.

I think one of the biggest benefits of this approach can be the ability to see how we can adapt and how ebbing and flowing can help us to build consistency. A drawback is that a year may seem like a long time to commit to something. Breaking it down into small steps and pieces that work with what life is handing us from moment to moment can be helpful.

Get curious! Sit with your thoughts for a while and see if this appeals to you and what you would like to dedicate a year to — the plan is simply to adjust as needed and see where the journey takes you.

Sydney and her kids with sunflowers

Why I Choose to Stay at Home as a Military Spouse

I see it too often — military spouses expressing frustrations, resentment and bitterness about how they continually put their careers on hold to follow their service member here and there, only to put their ambitions on hold yet again. This issue is common within the military spouse community, and a reality I’ve witnessed several times among friends.

While I can understand why those frustrations arise, I’ve never been able to personally relate. Before my husband and I had children, I was an elementary school teacher. This was an ideal job as a military spouse, as it is not one that entails climbing up the career ladder. While not always convenient, it was relatively simple to job-hop when necessary, and I found it to be beneficial to my resume as I gained experiences at different schools and in different states. I am now a stay-at-home mom, with two littles and another on the way. This is in part because I genuinely want to be at home with them, but most importantly, because I know I need to be. With a husband in the Army, my roles as both mother and wife can be all-consuming at times. I know how I am, and I know that if I would have returned to work after having my son, I would not have been able to do both jobs. I knew I’d feel stretched, exhausted and discontent with the pace and balance in my life.

As I now function primarily in the home, I may not always feel relevant to the world as I did when teaching, but I feel relevant to my home and my family — and that gives me more purpose than anything else I could imagine. Some reading this may need to be told with assurance that if you are a military spouse, you have purpose. As a stay-at-home mom, it may not feel like the world-changing, people-shaping or badge-earning calling you imagined you’d have someday, but it’s an important job.

You are the one your service member depends on to create a safe and loving place to come home to each day; tell them where their keys and wallet are … yet again; match all their different green socks; shove them out of bed when the snooze alarm goes off one too many times; restock their favorite snacks; and have dinner waiting on the table in the evenings. You’re the one waiting at home with teary eyes and the first hug they’ve had in almost a year. You’re the one who fills their belly and keeps their children safe and cared for, their activities scheduled and the calendars filled and followed. You’re the one who takes care of the dog, the budget and the never-ending address changes. You’re the one whose ear is there to hear it all at the end of a long day. You’re the one who pushes them to pursue challenges that intimidate them and the one they want to make proud. Most importantly, you are availablefor them and for your children when they most need you — and that is the greatest gift of all.

I’ll admit there are times I’ve felt useless during my days as a stay-at-home wife and mom. It’s discouraging when daily achievements around the home are reversed within minutes — the bucket of toys you picked up, the dog hair you vacuumed, the tiny handprints you finally wiped off the windows and mirrors, and other things you don’t even bother putting on a checklist because you know you’ll never actually cross them off for good.

As a military spouse and mom, there’s never a gold star, a pat on the back, a bonus or promotion or happy hour celebration at the end of a long day of laundry and wiping snot, tears, bloody knees and way too many smears off various surfaces. But there is a strong sense of stability and security in your home because of you and what you do quietly day after day.

You don’t wear the uniform, and you don’t get anywhere near the front line, but you and the sea of other devoted military spouses are the behind-the-scenes workers who put the “home” in “homefront.” Without you, things would most certainly fall apart.

Sydney and her husband smile for the camera.

“Love Every Day:” A Way to Bring the Spark Back Into Your Marriage

Many service members and military families are aware that Military OneSource exists, but not many are aware of all of the unique tools Military OneSource has to offer. The Department of Defense has worked tirelessly to provide resources to military families for a variety of important issues involving work and family life. One of the major topics of focus is marriage and relationships.

I recently came across a tool offered by Military OneSource called “Love Every Day,” and decided to try it with my husband. Love Every Day is a twenty-one-day text-based program. Every day for twenty-one days, you and your spouse receive the same question about your relationship. You will both be able to see the other’s answer (after you submit your own), as well as receive a fun fact about relationships along with a bonus activity. Questions often entail recollecting memories with your spouse or demonstrating how well you know each other. Bonus activities may include sending your spouse a text about a certain subject or initiating a conversation to build them up during their day.

My husband and I really enjoyed the last few weeks of using Love Every Day and connecting on a deeper level. What we loved most was the simplicity and efficiency of the program. We woke up to daily questions which we could answer at our leisure throughout the day. We would often come together in the evenings and laugh about what each of us said, or it would stir up a conversation that connected us in a greater way than the usual weekday conversations such as “how was your day?”

Love Every Day not only connected us more profoundly, but it taught us a lot about each other and our marriage. We realized we didn’t quite know every little thing about one another – and it was interesting to see the different perspectives we had on the same experiences and shared memories over the last five years of our marriage.

Our only complaint about Love Every Day was that twenty-one days just wasn’t long enough! Military OneSource does, however, offer other free relationship tools that allow you to dive in a little deeper, like the new Our Relationship program – a four-to-six week online program that allows you and your partner to work through specific challenges together. I think we’ll sign up for Love Every Day again or try the new Military OneSource Our Relationship program for a quick boost!

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