Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Loving the Now...The struggle to be content where you are at the current moment

Contentment….the age old struggle or so they say! There are many many ways that I struggle with being content in my day to day life but for this post I am going to focus on one of my biggest struggles at the moment..being happy in my current location. By this I truly do mean my current physical location. You see, as a military family we move around a lot and it is exciting but it an also be extremely draining both physically and emotionally. As I have struggled A LOT with this recent move and where God as planted us right now I have begun to realize a pattern that needs to stop for the sake of my sanity and my families well being. I realize that I have a huge tendency to romanticize the past and future which greatly impacts how I am living in the present. Now before I lose you let me paint you a picture…

We have been in our current location for about a year, I am finally feeling connected and enjoy it but am hit with the moving bug. I start constantly asking my husband “where do you think we will go next” or “In our next house we must have this” or “Next time we have to live on base” ..etc. There is nothing wrong with any of this perse, yet it puts my mind into a discontent mode. No longer am I seeking out how to make my current situation better, what activities I can get involved in or things I can change around our current house, instead I am dreaming of “what’s next” and putting all my hopes and dreams into the next assignment. The most damaging part of this thought pattern is that it usually happens when we still have 2 plus years at our current location. During the next two or so years I still make friends, find different activities to get involved in and have many moments of truly enjoying where we are but my heart is still focused on “what’s next’. As time draws near to the next move and I anxiously await our orders. If you are a military family you know what a time of torture this can be!! Once we get our orders no matter how good or bad they seem it is now time for planning mode. The prep work starts as we search for a new house, figure out what to do with our present one, attend farewells and say goodbye to friends, figure out if we are going to do a full DITY or a partial, and basically be hit hard with the fact that after all this time of wishing we could leave we are not ready to go! We realize how much we are going to miss our house and our friends and the area. No longer do we say we can’t wait to move, or watch all of our other friends move and be jealous, now we are moving and we are sad. “There will never be another place like this” we say; “I will never have such good friends again” or “I love this area so much, how am I going to leave it”. Yes, the same area we were just complaining about for the last 3 years is now our favorite place on this earth and we will never truly be happy anywhere else! However, we don't get to dwell on this a ton because there is so much to do and a long move ahead. 

Once we survive the move (not an easy feat with little ones in tow) then we are thrown into moving into a new house (or still securing one) and figuring out what new furnishings are needed and how to unpack the millions of boxes with said little ones still around! FYI, I know most bases offer a number of free hours at the CDC when you are PCSing and I recommend using them…I really need to take my own advise :) The first part of a new move can be exciting…finding our new go-to places and discovering what our neighborhood has to offer but it can also be daunting feeling like you want to be settled asap and know it is going to be months before that happens. 

This last move (the one that I am still in the midst of) has been the worst because it was following a year deployment that involved me living with my parents, having our second child and not having a true “home” or any of our stuff for a year! I seriously don’t understand the moves packing methods and I am still trying to find random essentials without having to unearth every single box in the house. 

Then about a month or two into the move, when the house is semi in order, school age kids are in school (depending on the time of the move) you are hit with the fact that it will be summer soon and you still have no friends and feel like a deer stuck in the headlights as to how to go make some! No matter how many moves you make I truly think this will always be a struggle in some sense. You might find quicker ways of making friends or be forced to jump into things right away (gasp without your house unpacked) but you will still always battle the struggle of being the new person and feeling like an outsider. 

This move for us is not in the normal move cycle we are used to and therefore we are one of the few new people right now. It is during school and everyone already has their routines and honestly I have been feeling sorry for myself a lot lately. I know better this time than last how to get connected but for some reason I can’t actually get my lazy butt in gear and make the first step and that is ridiculous! Half the time I don’t care because I am so crazy still trying to get everything settled and still getting used to being a family of four all together but the other half I am the deer and I just can’t make myself move forward. Instead I start romanticizing the past, how much I loved our last assignment and how much I miss my friends and how this summer is going to be horrible because there is no pool like we had in Utah and I have no friends. 

Now these thoughts aren’t bad on their own, it is good and healthy to miss friends and where you came from but when you allow them to consume your “now” and use them as an excuse not to move forward, to make friends, and love the “now” then something has to change! Believe me, this is where I am and it is hard!! This assignment I thought I would have a head start since we were moving to a location where we have lots of family and both the hubs and I went to college here and still have some friends living here. That is all good and it has kept us busy so far but it has also made it very clear to me the importance of making fellow military friends. No one can understand what you are going through or give you advice on the good doctors on base or the best ER to go to than those living this life too! Every type of friendship is important but after living a year basically removed from military life the need for those type of friends is even more clear right now! 

So why am I writing about all of this?? I think partly to encourage those in any of the stages just talked about to know that they are not alone and can change current situation by redirecting their thought pattern. My challenge to myself and anyone else struggling with this now or maybe in the future is daily remind myself to live and enjoy the “now”. I will still miss friends and locations but instead of dwelling on it, recognize it and then move on. Maybe even use it as a reminder to send that email or text to a group or friend you have been putting off. To enjoy my kids and all the mess that comes with it and schedule designated times when they are with family or in preschool or at the CDC to do the hard core unpacking that needs to be done (believe me we are all better this way)! But also give myself grace…what I am remembering is the end of a 3 and a half year assignment not the beginning. I am forgetting all the hard stuff and courage it took to step out an make friends at my last assignment and being lazy by not wanting to do it again. So instead of beating myself up, I will remind myself that it takes time and it is worth any effort I have to put forth. 

I am in no way an expert of any of this military spouse stuff..all I can do is share my experiences and lessons learned and continued to learn and hope that others can relate and maybe even find some encouragement in it. 

And since I haven't posted in forever...Here are some pictures from our "now"..

1 comment:

  1. Really good points, Ashley - I know I am struggling with some of the same things right now. We plan to move into a different house eventually, and I keep thinking about how things will be different "once we move" - but I need to be content and make the most of where we are now. Good post!