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military spouse

Military

Military Spouse Profile: Beth From ServingTalent

February 2, 2018

There are so many amazing military spouses out there kicking butt on a daily basis that deserve to be recognized and I’m excited to feature one of them each month with my Military Spouse Profile series. If you’re interested in sharing your story (or know someone who might), please send me an email!

Introduce yourself to my readers! Tell us a little bit about who you are.

Hi, I’m Beth! I’m a business woman, Army wife, dog mom, CrossFit Coach, fitness enthusiast, lover of food, wine, travel and good laughs. My life motto is: “Travel. Eat. Talk. Be Kind. Be Fit. Be Open”

What inspired you to start your blog or business?

Moving every few years stateside I was able to re-start my career.  Sure, I was frustrated that every move meant my career was basically starting over but at least I was able to maintain my professional identity.  When we were given orders overseas and I was forced to quit a remote job due to the SOFA, I. Was. Devastated. Before receiving these orders, I had finally found a job with a fortune 500 company that could ‘be done from the moon’ said the hiring manager.  FINALLY! We could PCS all over America and I would not have to start over!! Unfortunately, neither of us took into account the possibility of an OCONUS PCS and what the SOFA might do to that employment status.  After being overseas for just over a year and struggling to find my identity I found ServingTalent, they had just launched and were looking for help getting off the ground. They were a full-service staffing agency for professional military and foreign service spouses.  Their story was identical to mine! Two spouses with advanced degrees and years of experience finding themselves unemployed after an overseas move.

As a founding member we have fought every day to share the tremendous value that military and foreign service spouses bring to the workforce.  More and more employers are coming around and agree with our assessment that military spouses truly are an untapped resource!

What’s the main message you hope your blog shares with your readers?

There are so many ways to answer this. Military spouses looking to get your career back, don’t sell yourself short! Put yourself out there, meet people, and spend time on your resume, ask for help our community is more than willing to help their own.

What is your favorite part of being a military spouse?

The spouse community! Hands down! The most diverse, helpful, accepting, funny, and resourceful group of people you will ever meet!  Other military spouses get you, I promise.  If you haven’t connected with those around you yet give it time, this community is filled with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.

Tell us a little bit about your journey as a military spouse-the ups and downs, lessons learned, etc.

I came into the military life with absolutely zero exposure to the military.  No one in my immediate family was in the military, we had no military bases around my hometown.  My husband is 3rd generation military with his father and grandfather serving in the military.  We dated for several years before marrying and our careers were treated like ‘civilians’ treat their careers.  They were things we spoke to each other about but we were not involved in each other’s daily work life.  Shortly after marrying, quitting my job, and moving I was thrust into an FRG Leader position for his unit that was deploying.  Knowing nothing about the military other than the course I just completed to hold this volunteer position I was lost and so confused as to why me, as a civilian and his spouse, was now part of his work day, in a small way…it was so foreign to me.

This was my first experience with how amazing the spouse community is.  A tenured spouse took me under her wing and helped explain all of the things I didn’t understand.  She was my rock throughout my first few years and first few deployments.  Now, 11 years later I see how coming at this military life as a team in some ways is necessary.  When I say team, I mean taking the time to understand what this life is about, we are faced with constant changes and things that are out of our control.  Once I took time to understand how the process works, or in some cases doesn’t work, we were approaching this life as a team rather than a couple with separate careers.

What’s the number one piece of advice you would give a new military spouse?

Be prepared to be unprepared!  If you can master that line of thinking, you will be unstoppable in this journey!  This lifestyle can throw a lot at you: some of it in your favor, some not, some making total sense and some complete nonsense.  The more that you can prepare yourself to be completely unprepared, the better you will be at tackling all of this uncertainty like a champ!

 

What or who has been the biggest help or source of support to you in your role as a military spouse?

My husband has been patient beyond measure.  From the early days when I questioned EVERYTHING and didn’t understand anything to now when I still question EVERYTHING out of frustration.

There have been a few ‘senior spouses’ that have set examples in more ways than one.  Not only have they shown me how to successfully navigate this life, they have been amazing friends and demonstrated just how important grace and humility are. The larger spouse community has been outstanding: from that first tenured spouse that helped out the struggling new girl, to the incredible volunteers that have pulled together some pretty amazing feats, to the good-natured friends I have made along the way.

Do you have a favorite place the military has taken you? What is it and why?

Germany! We were stationed in Vilseck for about 3 years.  Even though we went through a 9-month deployment and a few months of trainings in eastern Europe we were able to travel and see so much of Europe.  My eyes were opened to so many new things about culture, food, living, governing, and more.  We could grab the dog and jump on a train or hop in the car and be in a new country with a different language and amazing food in a matter of hours.  We made some amazing friends.

Just for fun:

  • Favorite Netflix binge-worthy watch? Riverdale (I have Korean Netflix which has limited variety.)
  • What’s your favorite hobby? CrossFit, travel, cooking, eating
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla with cinnamon
  • Tell us a random fact about yourself. I auditioned for The Apprentice in 2007 and made it through 2 rounds before falling flat on my face during an on-camera interview.

What a great profile from Beth this month! I think her story of finding a career and a place overseas is very inspiring and timely as so many folks are finding out where they’ll PCS in the spring/summer. I can relate to her story so much, especially as I’m faced with an upcoming PCS and significant career change. You can find her on the ServingTalent websiteTwitter and LinkedIn.

Need care package ideas? I’m giving away 165+ ideas (plus what to put in them) here.

Military

Fresh Start Lessons From A Military Spouse

January 10, 2018

We put a lot of emphasis on the new year and the possibility it holds. For some people, the pressure of the year ahead actually becomes a littler overwhelming. For others, it’s the best time of the year and they are pumped to see what the days ahead hold.  I get why there are two extremes: a new year represents a fresh start and they can be a little scary, especially if you want to make big changes in your life. Think about starting a new job or moving to a different town or striking out on your own for the first time. All of these fresh starts are scary, partially because they don’t happen all that often. But for a military spouse, it’s a completely different story!

Military spouses are the kings and queens of fresh starts. Don’t like where you’re living/what you’re doing/who you’re around? Don’t worry, the military will change all of that.  Love your town/job/neighbors? Don’t worry, the military will change that too.  Fresh starts happen all the time in the military and not just on January 1st! Whether it’s a PCS, a deployment or just run-of-the-mill move across town, the military forces entire families to get used to fresh starts, even if they’re not entirely ready.

As you get ready for whatever fresh start the year holds for you, there’s a lot you can learn from military spouses. We’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt from just about every type of fresh start you can imagine.

Lesson #1: Make a plan.

You do not move an entire family, household and life all the way across the country (more than once) without learning the importance of a plan. To make the most of your fresh start, you need to know what you want to happen. Whether you write a detailed action plan complete with goals and deadlines or have a few ideas floating around in your head, put some thought into what you want your year to look like. It can be whatever you want it to be, so dream big!

Lesson #2: Roll with the punches.

Do you have your plan all figured out? Are you happy with it? Excited about it? Good. Now throw it away and roll with the punches. Military spouses roll with punch after ever-loving punch. You can plan until you’re blue in the face, but there’s no way to be ready for your husband to deploy right after a cross-country PCS when you have no job, no friends and no furniture. Life is going to throw at lot of unknown at you and when you make a fresh start, you need to accept a lot of fresh unknowns.

Lesson #3: Be open to new things.

Sometimes the best things come from the most unexpected places. That’s why military spouses know it’s important to be open to new things when you are facing a fresh start. Having a fresh start means you can take advantage of new things, even if the old you would have avoided them. Eat the weird food, read the new book, try the different hobby. When you’re more adventurous, you are like a sponge soaking up every last bit of that fresh start.

Lesson #4: Feel free to make changes, but stay true to yourself.

Any time you have the opportunity to start over in any aspect of life, it can be tempting to try and change everything you’ve ever remotely disliked about yourself all at once. But it’s not a good idea! Even if your changes are good ones, too much at once can totally burn you out. Instead of losing 20 pounds, running a marathon, starting a new job, buying a new house and learning to play the guitar all at the same time, maybe focus on one or two things.

A single change can also be bad if it goes against who you truly are; forcing something on yourself just because you think you should be doing it doesn’t actually do you any good.  Military spouses have the ability to be anyone they want each time they PCS, but going against their true nature never works out well (or lasts very long).  Make changes in order to become the best version of yourself, not a different version of yourself.

Whether it’s the start of a new job, a cross country move or even just a new week, we all have many opportunities to begin again.  Military spouses get a lot of practice with making fresh starts and know that there are ways to make the most of them.  How have you made the most of your fresh start?

Military

A Holiday Letter To Military Spouses

December 20, 2017

Dear military spouse,

Happy holidays! Or are you more bah humbug?

Don’t worry, I understand if you’re not brimming with holiday cheer right now. The holidays can be rough. Maybe your spouse is deployed and you’re feeling their absence more strongly than normal. Maybe you live really far away from family and miss the togetherness and traditions. Maybe you have a hard time mustering up any holiday cheer because you’re overseas and nothing feels the same.

I feel your pain because I’ve been there. Last year, my husband was deployed during the holidays and I was more than a little Grinchy about the entire season. Trust me, it was not a good look. But I eventually decided that being unhappy all the time wasn’t worth it; it wasn’t going to get my husband home any sooner and it was a little exhausting. So I stopped being unhappy and focused on finding things to be happy about. It’s from the experience that I can assure that you will survive this holiday season, no matter how unlikely it seems right now. In fact, you may even find yourself thriving during the holidays!

Joy has a way of creeping in where you least expect it, as long as you leave a little piece of yourself open to it. You can find joy during the holidays, if only you open your eyes.

Joy has a way of creeping in where you least expect it, as long as you leave a little piece of yourself open to it. Click To Tweet

Look to your friends, your family, your neighbors, even your fellow military spouses to bring a smile to your face. Look to little ones who don’t know not to be happy during Christmas. Look to strangers committing random acts of kindness. Look to yourself as you reflect on all that you have to be joyful for because that is the greatest gift of the holidays: the reminder of just how lucky you are.

The heartache of missing someone can be especially pronounced during the holidays and it’s tempting to withdraw to protect yourself. But oh dear military spouse, please give yourself the gift of joy during the holidays and let yourself celebrate. It may be hard and it may not be as fun as normal, but it’s worth it.

Sending you virtual hugs and as much joy as possible!

Happy holidays, dear military spouse.

Military

Military Spouse Profile: Carolann from Finding Ithaka

December 4, 2017

There are so many amazing military spouses out there kicking butt on a daily basis that deserve to be recognized and I’m excited to feature one of them each month with my Military Spouse Profile series. If you’re interested in sharing your story (or know someone who might), please send me an email!

Introduce yourself to my readers! Tell us a little bit about who you are.

Hi! My name is Carolann. I’m a writer and avid reader currently stationed in Hawaii with my husband, Nick. I’m originally from New York, so moving here was a huge change for me. But now we’re on our second tour here in Hawaii. I love living here. 

My husband is a submariner with 14 years in the military. I’ve known him for 10 of those years, and we’ve been married for almost 5. Since becoming a military spouse, I have tried on last of different hats and I’m honestly still trying to figure out who I am. I think that’s partially why I keep writing my blog and connecting with other military spouses through it.

What inspired you to start your blog or business?

When Nick and I moved to Hawaii right after our wedding, I started my blog. I had to quit my job as a writer and I didn’t want to lose my writing skills, so I decided to write about Hawaii.  I was a brand-new military spouse then. As time went on, I became less interested in writing about travel tips to Hawaii and more interested in connecting with other military spouse bloggers. 

As we went through moves and different things the military threw at us, I got older and more experienced. I start writing about my lessons learned and my perspective as a military spouse. Now, my blog is a mix of military spouse life, travel, Hawaii, and book reviews.

What’s the main message you hope your blog shares with your readers?

The name of my blog is called Finding Ithaka. It’s based on a poem called “Ithaka” by a Greek poet named CP Cavafy. The poem is about enjoying the journey and not focusing so much on the destination.  It’s the journey that makes us who we are, not the destination. 

I hope that is the message that my readers take away from my blog. Being a military spouse can be rough, but we also get so many opportunities that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.  I don’t want to spend my time counting the days until my husband is home or until we leave our duty station. I want to enjoy the journey.

What is your favorite part of being a military spouse?

I used to say the adventure, but at this stage in my life, the thing I value most is the incredible friendships I’ve made. The adventure is pretty amazing too. 

Tell us a little bit about your journey as a military spouse-the ups and downs, lessons learned, etc.

Nick enlisted in the military when he was 18. I met him when he was 22. At that time, he was in a program where he was going to college and becoming an officer.

As soon as he graduated college and got commissioned, he went to all of these different submarine schools all over the country before getting stationed in the Seattle area. I stayed behind to finish college and focus on my career while he did 5 short deployments.

After 5 years of long distance, we decided enough was enough and it was time to get married and finally be together. That period of transition was really hard for me because I felt like I was losing my identity. I had just gotten a promotion and my Master’s degree. I only had that job, which I loved, for two months before having to quit. It was also my first time moving away from New York.

But I knew that I made the right decision and after some time to adjust, I had never been happier. I learned that I am not defined by the job that I have and that there is so much more to me than that. That is something I want every military spouse struggling with their career to know.

If you take away one thing from this post, I hope that it’s you are so much more than a job and than your title as “military spouse”.

What’s the number one piece of advice you would give a new military spouse?

I’m actually writing a blog post about this! It’s hard to choose one thing, but I would tell them to do their own thing. If you are living in Hawaii, for example, and you are always waiting on your spouse to go new places and explore, you will miss out on so much. Get out there and make friends who have common interests so that you can do things together. When your spouse is around, you can them to the best places.


What or who has been the biggest help or source of support to you in your role as a military spouse?

My friend J. She has been through so much in her life and as a military spouse. Her husband has the same job as Nick, but he’s a bit older, so she’s already been through what I’m going through right now. She has been completely honest with me, but also very supportive. Knowing that she has gotten through what I am going through and made it helps me a lot. I think it’s good to have a military spouse friend who is a bit more seasoned than you. 

Do you have a favorite place the military has taken you? What is it and why?

Hawaii! I think that it’s a great place to be stationed. When would you get to live in paradise? I think it’s a good place to be when your spouse is deployed because it’s always warm and there is so much to do. 

I also love living here because military spouses become super close. We can’t just drive home for a random weekend or Thanksgiving so we become like family. We not only spend all of our weekends together but we also rely on each other.

Just for fun:

  • Favorite Netflix binge-worthy watch? Right now I’m binging on Once Upon a Time and I can’t stop! Luckily, it’s 7 seasons and I’m only on season 2.
  • What’s your favorite hobby? Making scrapbooks. I have made one each year since Nick and I started dating, and I always give them to him on Christmas morning! 
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Always, vanilla. 
  • Tell us a random fact about yourself. In college, we had to do a 50+ page research paper in order to graduate. As an English major, I knew mine was going to be about a book. I ended up writing it about Harry Potter. It took me a while to convince my Dean that this was a serious academic endeavor. Luckily, I had an awesome advisor who was completely for it and helped me.

As I read Carolann’s interview over, I kept finding myself nodding in agreement. She has so many great nuggets of advice in here, but my favorite is to do your own thing. That’s one of my core military spouse beliefs. You can find Carolann on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Gift Guides

Black Friday Guide: Military Spouse Owned Businesses

November 24, 2017

Raise your hand if you’re having leftover pie for breakfast this morning! Yeah, me too. But it has apples in it so it’s not THAT bad. While I have dessert for breakfast, I’m probably going to knock out some Christmas shopping from the comfort of my own sofa. While shopping at any time of the year, but especially for Christmas, I like to purchase products or from stores that I believe in and there is no one I believe in more than military spouses. So as you’re doing your Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday shopping, consider supporting some of these fantastic military spouse owned businesses!

I’ve selected an item from each of my featured military spouse owned businesses that I would love to give or receive as a gift this year, but each shop has so many fantastic products that I think you’ll find something for just about everyone on your list. Plus so many of these shops have great sales over the next few days so you’ll save money and support some wonderful people.

Isn’t it amazing and kind of ridiculously awesome that all of these products are made by military spouses? The wide variety of different military spouse owned businesses is almost as broad as the wide variety of people in the military community. I hope you consider supporting as many of them as possible!

“Kind is the new cool” kids’ shirt: I absolutely love this shirt for a little one! It’s so much better than another toy and has a good message to it.

“Bless your heart” pillow: Growing up in Texas makes one very familiar with this saying so I chuckled when I scrolled past this pillow. This shop has so many designs that you could certainly find something for just about every person on your list, Southern or not!

Infinity scarf: This is a great girlfriend gift because it’s on sale right now for only $7.99! You don’t have to worry about sizing, it comes in a variety of colors and looks so dang cozy.

Wine bottle candle: I’m a big scented candle fan, especially during the holidays. These holiday-scented candles would add a little extra festivity to a home and they come in recycled wine bottle!

“15 Years of War”: I have heard so many wonderful things about this book! It’s on my own list and is currently $16.95 instead of $19.95. P.S. This link is an affiliate link, which means if you purchase through the link, I receive a small commission for your purchase.

Gemstone bangle: I’m a huge fan of these rough gemstones lately. They’re pretty and feminine, but not too sparkly. This one is currently only $10.50 making it a great stocking stuffer or friend present.

“Behind the Scenes” book: I genuinely enjoy reading books by and about military spouses and this one meets both criteria! I’m adding this to my own Christmas list and hope to share more about it soon. P.S. This link is an affiliate link, which means if you purchase through the link, I receive a small commission for your purchase.

Custom coasters: I’ve followed Nomadic Nation for quite some time and absolutely love their stuff! The custom cuff links almost made the list, but the coasters are a great gift for guys and gals. I could definitely see these as a stocking stuffer for my husband.

Filthy animal onesie: There’s something about a baby that makes me want to buy all the funny onesies and this one is no exception! If you have a new baby (or a soon-to-be new baby) in your life, I think I’ve got you covered with this bad boy.

Dog collar: You can’t forget your four-legged family members at Christmas time and this shop won’t let you! I love the orange gingham collar and could see both Roogie and B rocking one. And with them being 25% off this week, I could easily snag two.

Grant tote bag: Ok, I have to gush about this bag. I met the R.Riveter ladies at the Military Influencers Conference and immediately wanted my own bag! I got this style (in a slightly different color) for my birthday and cannot get over how well made it is! It holds everything I need for work and still has room left over. Right now, they’re offering tiered savings based on how much you spend. This bag would get $75 off and free shipping through 11/26.

Insulated wine tumbler: So this bad boy comes in a huge variety of colors, but of course, I chose the orange one! You can get these monogrammed at no extra cost, which would be so stinking cute! I’m not sure you can beat this for the wine enthusiast in your life. Use the code BLACKFRIDAY2017 for 25% everything in their shop.

Knot bangle: If you’re not into the gemstone look, this knot bangle is also very pretty! I think it’s intended to be a bridesmaid’s gift, but for close girlfriends or maybe sisters/sisters-in-law? Perfection.

Lavender bath bomb: Here’s another great girlfriend gift because of the wallet-friendly price point! Plus who doesn’t need a little extra relaxation?

“Together is our favorite place to be” sign: The military lifestyle sends you to all corners of the earth, so home quickly becomes where your people are. This sign perfectly captures that in my opinion. It would look beautiful in any home and could even be a nice housewarming present.

Two additional gift ideas are courtesy of the Six Box and Rosie Planner. Both companies are military spouse owned businesses and create products specifically for military spouses.

There you have it! This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to military spouse owned businesses that are ready to help you complete your Christmas shopping. Consider supporting one (or more then one) of these fantastic entrepreneurs this year.