How to Find Gratitude in all Seasons of Military Life

I’m thankful for military life. Sometimes it can get me down, but when I take a deeper look, there’s always a way to find gratitude. November gives us a great opportunity to reflect upon our past year, and right now, our family is in the thick of an are-we-crazy-DITY PCS. I wrote these things down as a personal reminder of what this Army life has to offer—even in some of the more difficult seasons.

Lighten the Moving Truck.

Photo by Chuttersnap

I love getting rid of everything. From things in our basement that we haven’t touched since moving in two years ago, to cleaning my closet. My hold-up? Our son’s artwork. Kills me to toss it. So I have a box. And it’s full. But so much more is not moving with us! Do you struggle with this? So does my husband. But he left me to pack to pack our house—so here comes freedom!

Here’s a tip: Put things into piles of LOVE, SO-SO, and TOSS. If you don’t absolutely LOVE something or use it regularly but aren’t yet ready to put it into the toss pile, then let it sit in so-so for a few days. Chances are you’ll go back and find that it’s easier to know whether to keep or toss it (AKA sell, give away, recycle, etc.).

Explore.

I’m not great at change. But I’ve been focusing on things that I want to learn about our new duty station. I love discovering a new place and PCSing is the perfect opportunity. We’re going to be on the East Coast and I can’t wait for our family to visit historical sites, hit up the beach and mountains, and visit some cities!

I’ve already started a list: Washington, D.C. (our history-loving son hasn’t been there yet!); Gettysburg and the surrounding areas; Cape Hatteras and the Outer Banks; hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains; hiking to waterfalls in North Carolina; weekend trips to Charleston, Savannah, Bald Head Island…and so many more. When we have a long weekend, I’ll pull out the list and we’ll pick a place that fits our timeline to make the most of our tiny travels!

Growth.

Moving causes me to stretch and grow in ways I don’t want to. This time around I’m learning patience and contentment. I didn’t say I’ve mastered it. I’m working on it and getting better at it.

Oddly enough, I chose a word to follow in 2018. It took me some time to come up with this word, but I ended up with the word grow. I had intended it for professional development. But it’s showing itself not at all professionally in my life this year, but very much personally. Love that sense of humor that shows up in my life—what I intended became something very different!

Attitude adjustment.

To go with my growth point above, we haven’t been able to sell our current house. So for the next six months our home will be a two-bedroom apartment. I have to admit that I was a little crushed by the prospect of moving into an apartment the day I signed the lease. Like seriously crushed. I haven’t rented since I was in college.

I’m currently reading David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. Although it doesn’t pertain directly to my attitude, it is reminding me to not take a giant in my life at face value (such as not getting the job I was hoping for, renting an apartment, or even doing a DITY PCS haha!). It’s been a great read to help me see something that could be a negative in a new light.

Faith workout.

My faith is the core of who I am and my faith in God is being put to the test during this PCS. We didn’t even know this was coming until three months ago. I literally thought my husband would finish out his career here. We have the almost perfect house. We wanted to stay here forever. This move is a leap of faith like nothing I’ve ever known.

Quite honestly, I’m terrified. But I also want to grow in my faith and I have had to trust that God is bigger and His ways are higher than mine, especially when we can’t see the next step. I also know that I can’t sit still and expect to get in shape. The same holds true for faith; to make it grow, you need to exercise it and change up your workout!

Comfort is for the weak.

Or something like that! I’m being forced outside my comfort zone on every front. Our finances are being challenged. Our son will be leaving an incredible school, so I’m afraid for his next step. Our house isn’t selling. I thought that I found the perfect job, but have already been turned down. My husband started this week and his pay is already not right. I think I was dropped from DEERS because I can’t get into my Tricare account online…and honestly, the list goes on right now!

I can’t do much to change so many of these things. So instead, I signed up to volunteer at an event the week after we arrive. As an introvert this is definitely pushing me out of my comfort zone.

I keep two quotes in my dresser drawer from an interview with Jake Schick on the Jocko Podcast. Jake is the executive director for 22Kill; he’s a retired Marine who is also a Wounded Warrior.

My attitude, my mission, my mantra for making more of this move than just a move, is summed up in his words:

“I learned, if you’re not willing to use whatever platform you find yourself in, then to make yourself one hundred percent vulnerable for whatever may come, you will never make a difference. You’re waking up and choosing to be status quo and choosing to be average. And I learned, right then, the great ones, the ones that the history books rave about were consistently uncomfortable and consistently vulnerable.”

New faces.

Photo by Omar Lopez

I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet more military families. We are moving from an area that is mostly civilian. I’m excited to be a part of a military community. Our military friends so far in this journey have been people we truly love. We always have more room in our lives to love others, which can be done anywhere—military or not! But it’s the added bonus of having people who get you and your lifestyle.

That’s something to celebrate.

Looking for more reasons to celebrate military life? Here’s a list of Eight Unexpected Ways to Find Gratitude in Army Life!

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About Jolene McNutt

Jolene McNutt is a writer, editor, and graphic designer. She co-owns a business with her retired teacher dad creating hands-on resources for elementary and middle school teachers. Jolene has been married to her extroverted husband, Phil, for nine years. Phil is serving as part of the Active Duty Guard Reserve (AGR) in the Wisconsin Army National Guard - possibly the best kept secret in the Army! They have a six-year-old son, Finn, and a 90-pound lap dog, Odin. Jolene enjoys traveling, reading, and making allergy friendly recipes for Finn. Despite her introverted nature, Jolene loves hosting friends and family. Find her on Instagram @jolenemichelle1.

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