*Sigh* Just like that, we’re at the end of the 2019 Military Spouse Wellness Summit.
Another year, another set of fabulous speakers sharing their wisdom with military spouses. Just like previous years, this year’s summit did not disappoint. The opportunity to turn inward and focus my intention on five crucial aspects of my life was a gift. Each of the speakers invited me to think about my life from a different perspective, opening me to the possibility of positive change.
Sometimes at the end of a conference like this, it can be helpful to go back and review that you’ve learned. The good news is if you didn’t take notes I’ve got your back! I wrote recaps for Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4 that will help jog your memory of all the delicious lessons shared this week.
Today’s speakers wrapped up the conference discussing how we can move with purpose. Claire Yanta-O’Mahoney covered the physical aspects of moving with purpose, and how we can begin to incorporate more physical fitness into our lives. Molly Birkholm, on the other hand, guided us through how to move deeper into ourselves with purpose. This type of movement taps into our spiritual nature, but the changes and shifts that happen when we do so can feel just as tangible as lifting a weight.
The point that both women drove home was the importance of finding movement in your everyday life. From a turning inward to reconnect with your ever-present peace to physically moving your body, we thrive when we move with intention on a regular basis.
Thoughts from Molly Birkholm
Molly is a dear friend of mine, one that I’ve had the opportunity to work with for several years. I was thrilled to hear she was part of the #MSWS19 lineup because the wisdom and lessons she’s shared with me in our own conversations I felt should be shared with the entire world. As a keynote speaker, yoga and meditation teacher, and retreat facilitator, Molly has first-hand experience with health and healing and can offer helpful insight into how we can each live our lives to its fullest potential.
Goosebumps covered my body when Molly shared this in the interview. For those of us who have experienced trauma, this statement can seem unrealistic, even jarring. Molly was the first to admit that people have expressed anger when she’s shared that statement with them. But the underlying truth of this message is important: no matter how devastating and horrible our trauma, there’s meaning in it.
Molly’s goal in the work she does with anyone who has experienced trauma is to help them find that meaning. She has experienced horrible physical and mental trauma herself when she was in a cab accident in New York City and her cab driver was killed. Since that terrible day, she’s been able to help thousands of people on their healing journey. It’s not in spite of her trauma that she’s been able to do this but because of her trauma.
Our traumas, big and small, provide us guidance in our lives. It’s when we can see our trauma as having meaning, that is when we achieve post-traumatic growth and can move beyond that experience (or experiences). Molly explained that you never have to feel like your trauma was the best thing that’s ever happened to you, but when you can find meaning in it, that’s when you can move past it in health and healing.
Meditation and yoga are beginning to take hold in the U.S. like never before, to include within the military community. But there are still many people out there who believe you must change your religion, join a cult or pray to some sort of deity in order to use these practices. In reality, yoga and meditation are practices that can be adapted to support any belief system.
The type of yoga and meditation practices that each of us needs are different, Molly says. While they seem like a one-size-fits-all prescription for what ails us, these practices are actually incredibly personal and individual. As Molly experienced herself, everyone has to move into yoga and meditation in their own way. Yoga and meditation served as a pathway to peace in her own life and a union between the body, mind and spirit. It’s through these practices that she worked through her physical and emotional pain from her traumas. And it’s through these practices she’s seen others — from human trafficking survivors to Vietnam veterans — do the exact same thing.
Molly’s advice is to try these practices for yourself. Play with the different styles! Find what works best for you and what supports your belief system. In doing so, it’s likely you’ll find that they will become lifelong companions that will support you through any season of life.
This theme as been prevalent throughout the summit this year, but it bears repeating because many of us will brush this statement off at first blush. As Molly shared with the audience, we need to define success not just as having a happy family, but also being happy ourselves!
Thoughts from Claire Yanta-O’Mahoney
Claire has been on the military spouse fitness circuit for the last few years, providing fitness tips and advice. This year, audience members had the chance to hear from her as a speaker and learn some of the ways we all can bring intentional movement into our daily lives.
This should be the mantra that’s painted on the walls of every gym or studio across the world. We live our entire lives in our bodies, so we need to exercise and take care of them in a way that will allow them to function at their optimal level throughout that time. It’s Claire’s goal to be able to move with confidence, power and strength that manifests in her physical body and in the way she interacts and treats others during her lifetime. So she shares her goal for others to “train for life,” too because wants to see them be healthy and happy in their bodies.
This is such a practical metaphor for how to effectively care for your body. I love that Claire shared it this way! It’s up to us to make daily deposits that will create “health wealth” in our account. These daily deposits include drinking enough water, exercising, eating nutritious foods, taking time to connect with your inner self, wearing sunscreen and lotion, and loving from the heart. When we make daily deposits like the ones above, and stay consistent with them, then when we miss a day or two, our “health wealth” won’t be dramatically affected.
Claire also made the crucial point that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, either. Balance is key. Consistent deposits are just as important as intentionally missing deposits. It’s all about finding a healthy balance that makes you feel great.
That wraps us up for the 2019 Military Spouse Wellness Summit! I hope you had as much fun as I did learning from this cohort of speakers and thought-leaders. It’s my hope these recaps offered you extra insight on what you likely already learned during the summit. If I missed any important points from today’s session, tell me about it in the comments below! Until next year, grow, spend, love, eat and move with PURPOSE!
Move With Purpose was generously sponsored by Military Outreach MUTU System. M.O.M.S. is on a mission to empower all military women – both spouses and soldiers – with education, tools and resources on pelvic floor and core health. Women are suffering in silence and the military lifestyle can often make the journey to healing more difficult. This global project is about meeting women where they are and making sure they have the resources they deserve to have a body that most importantly works right and feels good! Learn more at their website.
About Alexis Miller
Alexis Miller is the Director of Communications for Warriors at Ease, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to bringing yoga and meditation to the military community through a network of trained professionals and through free programs that support them in their health and healing. She’s also the writer behind the blog Wife in the Wild Blue Yonder, where she shares her travel and military life experiences with readers. Lastly, Alexis is a certified yoga instructor and specializes in bringing yoga and meditation to the Yokota Air Base community. When Alexis isn’t busy working, you can find her doing yoga, rock climbing, fly fishing or traveling.