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 Lizann’s feature.
Lizann is a Marine wife, mom of 4 kids, and a professional writer. As a seasoned military spouse, she shares her resources, tips, and a sprinkle of humor to those whose loved one is a service member.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?
I met my husband just after high school, and we dated for a year before he was even considering the military. We ended up dating long distance for a total of seven years before we could finally get married! That included boot camp, a distant duty station, and his first three deployments to Iraq. We’ve been married since 2007 and now have four kids.
IF YOU ARE A HEALTH OR WELLNESS EXPERT, TELL US ABOUT IT AND HOW IT HAS IMPACTED YOUR WELLNESS JOURNEY.
I’m not a health or wellness expert, so my advice is not professional and shouldn’t replace recommendations from a doctor. However, having experienced many of the unusual challenges of military life, I am all about military spouses supporting each other on their wellness journeys, and connecting people with the resources they need to get through military life.
WHAT IS A LOW MOMENT WHEN YOUR HEALTH SUFFERED THE MOST AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
Some of the lowest points in my military life have come from deployment challenges. The first day my Marine (then my boyfriend) crossed the border into Iraq in 2003, I was a mess. I was doing a study abroad semester in Paris, France, so I wasn’t near any family or friends. Most people around me didn’t speak English, and were against the Iraq war, so I felt completely alone. I did a lot of crying that day. I’m thankful for two American acquaintances from my classes who took me out for coffee and spent some time with me. Even though they weren’t military girlfriends, they knew I needed some extra support that day, and I was grateful for their company. I also spent some time at church talking to God because I felt like He always understood me!
During a much more recent deployment, I was raising our four kids alone while he was overseas. At the time, my oldest was eight, so it was a very busy and exhausting time. The oldest had some extreme emotional reactions to the deployment, and became very difficult to handle at home. I was going crazy just trying to keep her disciplined and protect the siblings from some of her violent outbursts. It shook my confidence as a parent, because I was faced with a situation that I really didn’t know that I could handle. In desperation, I reached out to the unit MFLC (Military Family Life Counselor) to discuss the situation. She was very patient and helpful, and ultimately connected me to several resources like FOCUS and a pediatric psychologist who helped us ask the right questions and get some assistance.
When have you felt your healthiest (mental and/or physical) since becoming a military spouse?
Some of my healthiest military spouse moments have come when I focused on setting personal goals and challenging myself. After baby #3, I focused on getting back in shape and losing baby weight. I used to go for bike rides pulling all three kids! My husband would stay with them on weekends so I could go for a long solo run. I became strong enough to compete in my first mini-triathlon (sprint triathlon), and placed third in my age group!
While pregnant with baby #4, my goal was to complete and publish my first book, which was a guidebook to our overseas duty station. I did small portions at a time, including editing it while I was nursing her, but I finally self-published when she was four months old. The book is called Welcome to Rota and is sold on Amazon.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FORM OF SELF CARE?
Self-care is difficult as a busy mom. Mostly I crave peaceful, uninterrupted quiet. When my husband is home, he tries to make sure I get some time away from the kids so I can sleep in, read a book, or decompress. During deployments, I have to build quiet rituals into my day, like a cup of tea, prayer journaling, a monthly outing away from the kids, etc.
WHAT IS A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH THE COMMUNITY?
I have relied on hundreds of resources to help us through different parts of military life, so I recommend this huge list on my blog: Seasoned Spouse.
IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE RESOURCE TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I love the new podcast by Jen McDonald: Milspouse Matters
ABOUT Lizann Lightfoot
Lizann is a Marine wife, mom of four kids, and a professional writer. As the voice behind the Seasoned Spouse blog and the creator of the Deployment Masterclass, she has been working for years to share resources, tips for military life, and a sprinkle of humor to anyone whose loved one is a service member.