Wellness Spotlight | Patty Barron | AUSA
The Wellness Spotlight Series highlights military spouses and their real world health and wellness journeys in a Facebook Live series. Below is an excerpt of Patty's feature.
Patty is director of family readiness at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA).
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?
I met my husband in college at the University of San Francisco. We were married just before he was commissioned and we began a thirty-year military life that took us to Germany twice and to several states in the U.S. I am a jack of all trades and a master of none as I always reinvented my professional career every time we moved.
IF YOU ARE A HEALTH OR WELLNESS EXPERT, TELL US ABOUT IT AND HOW IT HAS IMPACTED YOUR WELLNESS JOURNEY.
I have a BSN in Nursing and a Masters in Community Mental Health Education, but because of 18 moves in 30 years I never really had a chance to practice my trades. The education I received in both areas however, did prepare me to live this crazy military life. I have always been a glass-half-full type of person. The power of positive thinking, laughing at oneself, and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel has kept me rather healthy over time. One thing I learned as I taught stress management through AFTB was to ask myself, “Where is this on a scale of 1-10?”, with10 being the worst thing that ever happened to me. This scale has helped me put most experiences in perspective.
WHAT WAS A LOW MOMENT WHEN YOUR HEALTH SUFFERED THE MOST AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
When Mike was in company command, I was trying to work full time as an R.N, take care of a baby and a toddler, be supportive of our military unit, and juggle being alone 2/3 of the time. I crashed and burned, ended up exhausted and incredibly depressed….so much so that I lost my faith in God and the faith I had in myself. The turn-around came when I had a very honest discussion with my husband basically saying, “I am not a superwoman and I cannot do it all – especially by myself. I must be allowed to pick and choose when I can work outside the home and when it is important for me to be a stay-at-home mom without feeling guilty that I am not contributing to the bottom line.” He listened, really listened for the first time. I quit my nursing job and concentrated on getting better. That experience taught me that everything comes in due time. As the kids got older, I ventured back out into the workforce and I am very proud to have created this career as a military family advocate over the past 15 years.
WHEN HAVE YOU FELT YOUR HEALTHIEST AND/OR BEEN AT YOUR HIGHEST MOMENT?
Now is my highest moment. I don’t take my health for granted. Today’s Google access world allows me to look up just about anything and try hard to follow the good advice I find. The Three Ws…Walk, Water, Weight…I do it, drink it, watch it and feel so much better!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FORM OF SELF-CARE?
My favorite form of self-care is to clear my calendar and take a mental health day at least once a quarter to do anything I want to do.
WHAT IS ONE PERSONAL HABIT THAT CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SUCCESS?
Create realistic goals for yourself so that you will succeed and not fail. I was very sedentary at work and by the time I got home I just did not want to walk anywhere. I bought myself a step tracker and at first only followed my daily step activity. It was only about 1500 steps! I made a pledge to double that and was able to do so just by walking at lunch or within the building. Now my goal is 5000 steps, which means I really have to think about how to get those steps in, but I’m doing it and it is becoming a great habit!
IF YOU COULD SHARE A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Get a Fitbit or health tracker to monitor your progress. It keeps you accountable to your own goals!
IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK OR PODCAST TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I reccommend the AUSA Army Matters Podcast. In particular this episode: Family Voices: Sleep, Nutrition, and Excercise: Why Do You Elude Me So?
Patty Barron is director of family readiness at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA). Previously, she served as the director of outreach, Military Family Projects, at ZERO TO THREE and also worked as the director of youth initiatives at the National Military Family Association where she oversaw the Association’s Operation Purple Camp program. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of San Francisco and her Master of Science degree from Long Island University. She has an Executive Certification in Non-profit Management from Georgetown University and a certificate from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University in leadership. She is married to COL Michael Barron, USA Ret and has three amazing grown kids, one of whom is a veteran and a military spouse. Her heart currently belongs to her two granddaughters stationed in Hawaii with their parents.