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 Claudia’s feature.
Claudia is a mom, U.S. Navy veteran, and U.S.M.C. spouse. She is the founder of Snaphope.org, a Christian non-profit featuring the orphaned and the poor through the art of journalistic photography. Claudia enjoys photography, travel, and exploring nature with her son.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE.
When Jayson and I met (through online dating), we lived in different cities in California. At the time, I had just finished an enlistment with the U.S. Navy and had returned to the civilian workforce. Jayson is a Marine aviator and he was serving at 29 Palms. Courtship was brief, soon came our engagement, and then a deployment for him. Upon his homecoming, we had our wedding in Miami followed by our first set of orders to Okinawa, Japan. We capitalized on the opportunity to live in Southeast Asia by indulging in cultural experiences throughout the continent. For three years we developed solid relationships with fellow expatriates, became familiar with our local community, and strengthened our marriage foundation. One pit stop in San Diego and two deployments later; we moved to Oahu, Hawaii. Our only son, Liam was born there in December of last year making the beautiful island truly feel like home.
Have you experienced any extreme highs or lows since becoming a military spouse?
I have always taken pride in adjusting to change rather quickly. Probably as a result of being a child of divorced parents who lived geographically apart, adapting became a skill. Therefore, military life and its trials seemed rather fitting. However, our most recent move to Oahu challenged my abilities exponentially. At six months pregnant with an exigent gestation, I found myself unsettled and unhappy. Jayson was tasked immediately to fly outside the island, we moved from temporary lodging several times, and I could not find my rhythm. I believe these feelings were magnified by the fear of losing another pregnancy in the absence of my husband. I felt truly overwhelmed and lonely, which was extremely out of character for me. The key to overcoming this adverse “season” in my life was to actively seek social interaction, find a milspouse support system, and identify my place within the community. I reconnected with friends from San Diego who were now living on the island. They introduced me to a few activity clubs for milspouses and suddenly my agenda was fuller than I desired. Health and wellness were critical in this process of self awareness and life balance. Once I had established a routine, I was able to regain my personal confidence and began truly embracing my new environment. Shortly after, Liam made his grandiose arrival giving our lives even greater expectations. My personal highs have often come from self-imposed challenges set on a yearly basis. Writing down my personal goals for the upcoming year has helped me to visualize and develop a tangible strategic plan to achieve them. At the end of 2018, I challenged myself to complete my first full marathon within the next 12 months. In 2019 I signed up for the Honolulu Marathon and successfully completed the 26.3 miles (without training). It has been indisputably one of the most satisfying personal achievements of my life. Our brains are just so powerful!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FORM OF SELF-CARE?
My favorite form of self care is time in solitude. I am a social being but on my own terms and space. While I appreciate and enjoy community, I have learned to value time alone. Hence why I enjoy waking before the sun comes up when most are still asleep (including Jay, Liam, and Elsa) to go outside and savor nature or catch a gym session. Quiet always grants me perspective and a clear thought process. I believe wholeheartedly that when I spend quality time with myself (doing something I love), then in turn I can perform my collateral duties more efficiently.
WHAT IS ONE PERSONAL HABIT THAT CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SUCCESS?
One of my favorite habits is to rise with the sun (or even earlier if possible). There is something rather indescribable yet mesmerizing about watching nature morph before one’s eyes. And I have learned that not one sunrise is identical, each is perfect in its own way much like we are. I find myself being more productive, practicing gratitude, and increasing my endorphin release when I can go for a solo run (or hike) by the ocean. I love to watch the sun come up, and later reward myself with a cup of coffee from our local market. It definitely sets the tone for my whole day.
IF YOU COULD SHARE A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Seek and join your local branch of military service’s social media spouse pages. Personally those pages were the gateway to finding great local clubs, such as NaKoa Lani, my recreational paddling club, as well as AAA (Aloha All Around), and Friends Hiking Oahu. These are my preferred social and fitness groups. The added bonus is that I developed solid friendships with unbelievably unique, caring, and talented women whom have become Ohana (family) to me.
IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK AND/OR PODCAST TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
“The 5 Love Languages Military Edition: The Secret to Love That Lasts” by Dr. Gary Chapman. As military spouses we are not unfamiliar with the strain of long deployments, lonely nights, and difficult transitions. For these extraordinary challenges, this book offers invaluable advice and guidance.
Claudia is a U.S. Navy veteran and a U.S.M.C. milspouse currently stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, HI. She is mom to Liam (17 months old) and Elsa (seven-year-old Siberian Husky mix pup). She holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in Industrial Organizational Psychology. She is the founder of Snaphope.org, a Christian non-profit featuring the orphaned and the poor through the art of journalistic photography. Some of her passions include social work, photography, building milspouse community, traveling, culture immersion, and healthy lifestyling.