It’s hard to believe, but we are over half way through the fourth annual Military Spouse Wellness Summit!
Already we’ve heard from four inspiring speakers on how to grow with purpose and spend with purpose. During day three of the summit, audience members had the chance to hear from two fantastic women who know a thing or two about how to love with purpose.
Loving with purpose….it’s something that comes easy for most of us when we think about loving others. Military spouses, after all, are a pretty loving bunch. Out of love we often put the needs of others first and out of love we make sacrifices in our lives that are incredibly difficult. But the one thing we need a little more of in our lives? Loving ourselves. Maria Kang and Amy Hawthorne pointed this out in their interviews, diving right into this difficult, but need-to-be-discussed topic for military spouses.
Thoughts from Maria Kang
The entire theme of Maria’s interview was, “Love yourself by taking better care of you.” This is often easier said than done and many of us find excuses to not execute it. But Maria, a fitness enthusiast and founder of the No Excuses Mom Movement, believes that our ability to love others and thrive in life is directly related to our ability to push through the excuses and take care of ourselves.
A smile spread across my face the moment Maria said this. The idea she shared is not a new one; we’ve all seen an Instagram post talking about not being able to “give from an empty cup.” But her point is one that must be mentioned, repeatedly, because too often we neglect our self-care. It really is true that you can’t thrive off an empty well. Your self-care is of utmost importance for living life to your fullest potential — a life in which you feel happy, healthy and whole.
Going beyond a phrase that’s quickly becoming tired, Maria also pointed out that we don’t have to pretend we’re okay when in reality we’re not. Yes, there’s absolutely power in pushing through difficult seasons and on occasion, faking it until you make it. But there’s also tremendous strength found in acknowledging when things are out of balance in our lives and when we need to pause and reassess our situation.
The truth is, there’s power in vulnerability and imperfection. We must be vulnerable on a regular basis and acknowledge that we’re not perfect and that at times we need help. In what form that help comes is entirely situational, but understanding what you need and seeking out the right solutions is key to loving yourself more fully.
It all comes back to intentionality with our time and our lives. Maria, using almost the same exact language as Peter Decker from Day 1, pointed out that the “why” in each of our lives will always help us figure out the “whats” and “hows” that will enable us to be successful. As Maria told listeners, you need to dig deep and find an emotional reason as to why you want to do something. Any body change is a journey you embark on for the rest of your life, so it’s important to have a strong, clear “why” that serves as the fuel along the way.
Maria is a firm believer that the only thing in life we truly own is our bodies, and that being uncomfortable is where change starts to happen. If we truly want to initiate a healthier pattern of living, we must surround ourselves with people who will make us uncomfortable and encourage us to change in a positive way. Discomfort, Maria says, is a major part of the process of creating change and learning to love yourself more fully.
Thoughts from Amy Hawthorne
A veteran helicopter pilot and now-entrepreneur, Amy had a lot of great advice to share with MSWS19 participants, many of which were focused on loving yourself by following your passions. As someone who has recently faced her own challenges within her professional life and her marriage, it was great to hear her stories, in which she demonstrated vulnerability with grace.
Much of what Amy discussed in her interview was learning how to live a life with intention. Through her own trials within her professional and personal life, she discovered she was a “Yes Person.” Kind of like the Carl Allen from the movie “Yes Man,” Amy found herself saying “yes” to everything that came her way. But when things started to get really tough in her marriage, she came to the realization that saying, “Yes” to everyone and everything isn’t a sustainable way to live.
Being a “Yes” person is just one way to live life without intention — one that many military spouses struggle with on a weekly basis. How can we say, “No” to helping out in our communities, or serving a friend in need or giving our families and our jobs everything they ask for? Even though saying, “Yes” to everything feels loving, in the end, it’s not very loving toward yourself or those around you. When you’re intentional about your Yes’s, you’re going to be a much happier person because it means you’re not running yourself thin. And what a better way to demonstrate love to others than by loving yourself enough to say, “No” to some opportunities?
Christmas 2018 was the first time my husband and I were on our own in the five years we’ve been married. I was ecstatic! I love our families, but I was really excited about getting to spend the day doing whatever we wanted in the comfort of our own home without travel schedules lurking in the back of our minds. My husband and I had the chance to establish our own traditions around the holiday and make it feel like “home” even though we were stationed in Japan.
I could totally relate to Amy’s desire to create traditions within her own family. Traditions and rituals, big and small, are the glue that create a sense of place and comfort in our families, no matter where in the world the military sends us. This is an important point to remember; we’re not always going to be able to go home for the holidays or celebrate milestones with our extended families. By establishing your own traditions, you’re giving your family the memories they deserve.
As Amy points out, rituals don’t have to be grand. Her family loves getting ice cream on Tuesdays. My husband and I love eating spaghetti with homemade red sauce on Sunday nights. It’s a tradition that grounds us in our marriage and reminds us what’ really important in life: each other.
These are just some of the many lessons that each person shared. What takeaways did you get from Day 3 of #MSWS19? Is there anything I missed? Tell us in the comments below and get excited for the last two days of the summit!
Love With Purpose was generously sponsored by Legacy Magazine. Do you desire to read narratives that pull from the deepest parts of the military community? Narratives that unveil strength, resilience, and hope in the face of adversity? Legacy Magazine and their team of contributors are on a mission to offer just that. Through a strength-based approach, they seek to offer the voice of a friend and mentor during times of celebration, transition, and growth. You can join the conversation 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.