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Lessons From The Home Front Making The Most Of The Military Life
Copyright © Megan Peddle2008
Imagine waking up one morning and being told in no uncertain terms that in two months you would be packing up and moving across the country. And then, three years later, you have to do it all over again. Such is the life of a military spouse - a life that is often uncertain, complicated, and rather difficult for someone who prefers life to be simple and predictable.
Since I married my husband five years ago, it's sometimes been a struggle to reconcile our lifestyle with living a simple, conscious life. Of course, many people move frequently due to career changes, family, or simply for a change of scenery. The challenge for me, at least, has been the feeling of not being in control of my life when choices have been made for me.
Over the years I've learned many strategies for keeping life as simple as possible even in the midst of whirlwind moves, overseas deployments, and having a husband who is away more than he is home. Most of these strategies can help anyone wanting to simplify an impending move - or even just to reduce the stress associated with our chaotic lives.
Thoreau's words serve as the soundtrack to my life, a constant reminder that because I don't have a permanent home, I can't fill a basement with piles of things I might need later. Early on, we did enjoy buying new things as most newlyweds do: furniture, dishes, music, candles, knick-knacks, tools - things we loved shopping for together. Then we had to pack it all up, move it, and unpack it all over again. In the process, things were broken, things were misplaced, and things often remained in boxes until the next move. But it wasn't until we decided to unload most of it at a yard sale, thinking we'd make a huge profit, that we finally had an epiphany. All this stuff was not enhancing our lives; it was suffocating us - consuming our free time and causing us extreme stress during already stressful moves.
Five years later, we are different people. We surround ourselves only with things that we find useful or which add to the beauty of our environment. Friends and family have learned to give us gifts of time or experience rather than things we'll have to pack up and move. We've developed organizational systems so that we know where all our important documents are, a far cry from our old method of tossing them in boxes in the basement. We're ready to go at the drop of a hat, which means I can sleep well at night, knowing the next move won't be preceded by frantic searching through unmarked boxes for banking information or important addresses.
Home is where you happen to be
"But why do we have to move again?" I used to ask my husband. He got accustomed to this question, and I eventually got used to the answer: "We just do." I've learned many things as a military spouse, but what's helped me most is to remember what's truly important. I've learned that home doesn't necessarily have to be where you come from, but can be where you happen to be living at the time. Any house, no matter how temporary, can be made into a home when it's full of the people I love most. I've also learned that each day is a gift. It can be tempting to live with the future in mind - retirement is ten years away - but the simple everyday pleasures are often missed as a result. Although a posting might be less than ideal, I've learned to find the assets each new town or city offers. I've also discovered the joys of new friends who become our extended family all over the country. Perhaps most importantly, this unpredictable life we live has taught me to savor each moment my husband and I spend together with our new daughter because any day could be the day he's sent overseas.
Simple living means different things for different people; for me, it's enjoying a minimalist environment, relishing the littlest pleasures, and appreciating each moment with my family, no matter where our next posting takes us.
Now, I must go pack some boxes - the next adventure awaits!
Megan Peddle is an IT writer living in Canada. She keeps busy with her new baby, two dogs, and two cats. She's a foodie who's passionate about green living, being in nature, and spending as much time as possible with her husband when he's not deployed. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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