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 Heather’s feature.
Heather is a mom, Marine wife, Navy child, and blogger. She is one of three women who founded MilMomAdventures, sharing travel tips for military families. She is also a lover of all things crafty, travel, and Disney.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?
I met my husband at church. I was seated in front of him and during “passing of the peace” (shaking hands and saying good morning) we said hello. He walked away without my name after service, but the next time I saw him, he got my name! We became part of a small group that would go to dinner, have game nights together and our friendship developed. When he was moving to the West Coast, we road tripped it from Virginia to California – a make it or break it moment – and we made it! We got married that year, a few months before he deployed. We have lived around the world since.
IF YOU ARE A HEALTH OR WELLNESS EXPERT, TELL US ABOUT IT AND HOW IT HAS IMPACTED YOUR WELLNESS JOURNEY.
I am a physician assistant and have worked in emergency medicine, family medicine, and deployment health. Health is an ever-evolving science with newly emerging research. I have been practicing for over 10 years and during that time there has so much change and development.
One of my favorite things to do is read historical non-fiction, and reading medical books from the 1950s to now is so fascinating in regards to the changes and what we have learned. Working in medicine sometimes means putting yourself last because there is a patient waiting. But after working the last decade, I have learned that self-care is paramount to staying healthy and active. A provider that is well-rested and happy is a better provider. This translates to parenting too – I am a better mother when I remember occasional self-care.
WHAT WAS A LOW MOMENT WHEN YOUR HEALTH SUFFERED THE MOST AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
This one is recent. After over a year of looking for, applying to, and interviewing for clinical medicine jobs, I continued to receive rejections. Verbally I was told it was because I was a military spouse and would eventually move. It was very frustrating and disappointing that my spouses’ job and our potential to move was the reason I was not working clinically, especially when I had a physician assistant friend and former co-worker who had more job changes than I had in 10 years and she never moved. The continued rejection made me feel sad and angry. Sometimes that frustration led to giving up my workout for the day because I was just feeling so blue. Or emotionally eating. Both of which are not healthy choices.
During this time, I continued doing administrative medical work which fed my desire to continue to help others with my education. And I kept applying for jobs. Since I was not working clinically, I had more time to develop my hobby of writing and explore our area with my children, which I love. It brings me so much joy to go to a new museum and watch my children’s eyes grow large when staring at the fossils of a dinosaur or when they ask questions about the fascinating bug they found. From this love of writing and desire to share my adventures to encourage others in my area, I embarked upon co-founding a blog with two friends and fellow milspouses. With the blog, I have been going outside my comfort zone by networking within the community, improving my photography and writing skills, and learning a lot about building a website.
WHEN HAVE YOU FELT YOUR HEALTHIEST AND/OR BEEN AT YOUR HIGHEST MOMENT?
The best moment of mental and physical health is probably after the birth of my first daughter, and now. After the birth I felt mentally sound as I had a balance of work-life and an amazing community overseas, and walked everywhere but work. Now I am more physically active than I was in my past, and I am working on finding a new balance between my work/volunteering and mother life. My personals goals for healthy living are to work out daily in some form, no eating after 9 pm, and continue balance.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FORM OF SELF-CARE?
My favorite form of self-care is exploring and adventuring. Trying a new food or going somewhere new is exciting. As someone who currently lives in Southern California, when the kids are off for the summer, my favorite form of self-care is downtime in Disneyland. There is something magical about walking onto Main Street and hearing the music. Our budget cannot support self-care days at Disneyland all summer, so exploring and adventuring where the military sends us is my self-care.
WHAT IS ONE PERSONAL HABIT THAT CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SUCCESS?
I am my happiest and healthiest when I put my workout on the calendar. There is some flexibility. If I have a sick child on the bathroom floor, I am not running out to work out. But I do a workout during nap or in the evening so I can get those endorphins going.
IF YOU COULD SHARE A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
The apps I use for working out when I have to piecemeal it into my days are free! Swork it and Swork It Kids have paid and free versions. The free versions allow you to choose 5-60 minute workouts with videos of the moves. They aren’t as intense like other video-based workouts I have done, but it is something to get you moving and the kids can be included too.
IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK OR PODCAST TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
The digital audiobook options at your local library, or a service e-library (Navy/Marine: https://mwrdigitallibrary.navy.mil/, Army: https://www.armymwr.com/programs-and-services/libraries/account-registration, USAF: http://www.myairforcelife.com/libraries/). They offer recipe books for healthy eating, books on meditation, yoga and so much more. The beauty of this resource is it is available wherever you move!
Heather Walsh is a mom, Marine wife, Navy child, blogger, and lover of all things crafty, travel, and Disney. Professionally, she is a physician assistant and has a passion for helping others stay positive and supported. She has been writing since KidPix was on floppy disk! She is one of three women who founded MilMomAdventures, sharing travel tips for the military family at www.milmomadventures.com. They are currently sharing exploration of Southern California, New Orleans, Virginia, and more with tips for the military family on how to enjoy the adventure with every PCS and save money while doing it. Recently, she has contributed for NextGen MilSpouse, Daily Mom Military, and Military Disney Tips.