Life is all about the seasons.
Sorry if that sounded kind of corny or slightly cliche, but from where I’m sitting, it is true, especially for military spouses.
We have seasons of joy. We have seasons of pain. We have seasons of hopeful anticipation. Of disappointment. Of frustration. Encouragement. Waiting. Challenge. Victory.
Yes, it’s all about the seasons.
Sometimes we have a season of “winter” that seems to last FOREVER.
Now when I refer to a wintery season, I’m not talking about the beautiful, freshly-fallen-snow-sparkling-Christmas-is-coming-winter of glory.
I mean the gray, damp, mundane days of winter that drag on and on and make us wonder if winter will ever end.
Will winter last forever? Fortunately, we all know the answer is no. Nope, winter will not last forever– even if we are stationed literally (or figuratively) in Alaska.
Please feel free join me in a collective sigh of relief. #WHEW
Wintery seasons of our milspouse life could be those moments during deployment where we are far enough in that the beginning seems like lightyears behind us, but we aren’t quite at the point where we can feel comfortable to start the homecoming countdown.
A season of winter might look like those months leading up to a less-than-exciting PCS, when you and your spouse talk constantly about the move, but it’s still too early to start making plans and engage all systems go.
Winter can be those moments as a parent when you are trying to navigate a hard “phase” (little ones not sleeping, dealing with separation anxiety, or the tumultuous teenage years) when sleep-deprivation, emotions, or just general confusion are simply overwhelming.
We know in our brain that these gray, challenging, winter-like seasons won’t last forever, but how do we convince our hearts (and sometimes our weary physical bodies) of the same truth?
Here are a few ways that I, as a milspouse, mama, friend, and leader power through when winter seems like it will last forever.
1. Break it down into manageable chunks. One thing about “winter” seasons of our life is that it seems like “spring” is a hundred years away. If we spend too much time thinking like that, we will psych ourselves out and spend most of our time in the fetal position rocking back and forth in a corner going to town on a bag of Dove Chocolate. (Sometimes, this is an ok alternative… but not a great habit to adopt permanently.) I personally break the “winter” season down into manageable chunks. If counting the days is overwhelming, focus on months or weeks. (Personally, nine months sounds more appealing/less overwhelming than 273-ish days!)
2. Find victories in the everyday. Our world seems to set us up for only rejoicing in the “big victories” of life, like landing a dream job, birthing a baby, or running a marathon. But lemme tell you what, readers–in our winter seasons of milspouse life, we should celebrate our small, everyday victories, like putting on pants, grocery shopping, and keeping the Tiny Humans alive. It makes a difference and helps us cope when winter seems to last forever. In the words of Steven Furtick (especially when in the light of social media), “Don’t compare your ‘behind the scenes’ with someone else’s ‘highlight reel.'”
3. Reach out for support and encouragement. Community has been SUCH a lifesaver for me personally in my seasons of “milspouse winter.” Not only are friends a great support, but they also can redirect our perspective to look for the coming season of spring that is sure to be around the corner.
4. Set a goal that is unrelated to your “season” and work for it! I am a goal-setter and let me tell you, sometimes a challenging (yet achievable) goal, completely unrelated to our upcoming “spring” season of life, will be just the ticket to get us through the cold, hard winter. And again, don’t feel like it has to be something huge or profound like deadlifting your own body weight or making a bajillion dollars. Let your goal be an item you enjoy– learning a new hobby, taking a class, going for a walk every day for a month, or reading one book a month for a year.
5. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. I know, I know– this one might be easier said than done, but it has been a game-changer in my life FOR SURE (no matter what season I am facing). If you are a little nerdy like me, consider keeping a running list of things you are grateful for. I started this project back in November 2011 and just recently passed 10,000 (yes, TEN THOUSAND!) things on my gratitude list. Talk about an encouraging perspective!
Ok, readers, I want to hear from you. How do you make it through your winter-like seasons of milspouse life? How do you press on to your theoretical “springtime?” Did any of the above tips jump out at you? Please don’t be shy–join the conversation below.
And remember that if you are in a figurative season of winter (regardless of duty station) please know that we here at AWN are cheering for you! Hang in there. Springtime is coming!!