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Visualization is a powerful tool you can use to see and discern goals, dreams, and the lifestyle you desire to live. Creating a vision board is a tangible, inspirational way to help you imagine and determine what you want to do in the days and weeks ahead.

You can use cork board, card stock, a poster board, or even a blank piece of computer paper to create your vision board. Our minds respond strongly to visual stimulation and diagrams. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely more of a visual learner than one who learns by hearing! I need to see it with my eyes and then do it with my hands. I think this is also part of the reason why I love paper so much and why I write down my schedule and tasks daily. There is just something so fulfilling about using good ol’ pen and paper rather than relying solely on technology.

Our brains do incredible things when we write things down. Not only does writing help us to better remember information, but it can also drastically increase our likelihood of doing something. If we just think about our dreams, goals, or how we want to live our lives, we are only activating one part of our brain -- the right hemisphere, which is responsible for imagination, creativity, emotion, abstract thinking, intuition, and visual information. When we write something down, we tap into the left hemisphere of our brain which controls logic, writing, reading, speaking, analyzing information, and reasoning.

The outcome of our goals and dreams is highly dependent upon our ability to act and begin taking necessary steps forward. Through creating a vision board, and “seeing” your goals and dreams, you will have more skin in the game, more commitment to actually see these things through versus just thinking about them on a few one-off occasions.

Below are six simple steps you can take today to craft your own personalized vision board. You can spend as much or as little time on this project as you would like. You can create vision board in an hour or curate one over several days with much thought and contemplation. It is completely up to you. 

Step 1: Gather your supplies - A vision board is a tangible board so you will need either a piece of blank paper, poster board, a cork board, or canvas. You can make your vision board as big or as small as you’d like. I created my vision board on my large cork board right above my desk in my office. This way I can see it daily, be reminded of my goals and passions, and be inspired to keep pressing on. Next, you will need to collect old magazines, family photos, old newspapers, etc. Because this is a visual project, we will want to find images and words that depict our values, dreams, and goals for our vision board. I broke out my stack of old Country Living magazines along with a few other magazines, and cut out words, pictures, letters, pieces of articles, recipes, etc. You will also need a pair of scissors, markers, paint, watercolors, colored pencils, crayons -- whatever speaks to your artsy, creative self. I personally am not artistic, so I chose to create my vision board solely with magazine clippings. Lastly, you will need either glue, tape, or push pins to attach all of your inspiration photos and words to your board.

If you don’t resonate with images and are more of a list person, you can also write out your goals and dreams in a list format.

Quick List of Supplies:

  • Poster board, cork board, piece of blank paper, canvas
  • Stack of old magazines, family photos, old newspapers
  • Scissors
  • Markers, paint, watercolors, colored pencils, crayons
  • Glue or tape if using paper or poster board. If you are using a cork board or canvas, you will need push pins. I used the thin sewing pins with the pearl tipped end. They work wonderfully because they are thin and appealing to the eye! You could also find some fun colored or different shaped push pins.

Step 2: Vision Board Vision - Spend some time meditating on what you want your vision board to include. Will it be solely personal? Will it focus on your business vision and goals? Will it be a mix of both? Will it be for your passion projects? Will it be a place to hold memories and upcoming events/trips/to-dos? Will it be a place to encourage you to cultivate the type of lifestyle you desire for yourself and your family? If you are going to spend a longer amount of time on this project, this is the step where you should spend that time. I hope you will mindfully consider your goals and the type of lifestyle you hope to lead. This is the most crucial step in creating your personalized vision board. Envision what matters to you most, where you want to be in the next year, five years, ten years. Think about the legacy you want to leave behind. Consider the dreams you have deep inside of you that you keep putting off until tomorrow. Now is the time to visually bring these things to light and life.

Step 3: Inspiration and Imagination - It’s time to get to work and begin flipping through your old magazines and clipping words and images that inspire you. Again, feel free to use any and all of the materials listed above. Perhaps you want to create your own graphics with quotes or words of encouragement.

Step 4: Arrange your vision board - This was my favorite part of the process -- figuring out how to visually create my board and place each and every piece of encouragement and inspiration. I re-did my board three times over a period of a few days because I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to organize it. Now, hear me when I say you certainly don’t need to spend three days on this step. I found it helpful to lay out all of my clippings and pictures and then begin to arrange them in a way that spoke to me. I ended up arranging and organizing my board in themes/areas of my life. I did a section on healthy eating, lifestyle/hospitality, my dreams and business goals/ideas, and then I sporadically placed quotes, Bible verses, and words of encouragement. Below my 2018 ‘Let’s Do This’ postcard from my PowerSheets, I placed a slightly adapted version of my business tagline -- Design a Life You Love.  I found those words in varying sizes and styles throughout my magazines and placed the emphasis on Life and Love!

Step 5: Attach and Create - Once you figure out how you want to arrange and organize your board, it’s time to start putting the pieces together. For me, that involved pinning each photo and magazine clipping. If you are using paper or poster board, this step could also include you drawing, painting, writing, or doodling your own words and images.

Step 6: Sit back, enjoy, and be inspired daily! - Now, step back and admire the beautiful piece of art you just created! I hope you are proud of this piece of art because it truly represents you, your passions, interests, goals, and dreams.

Are you ready to visually create your dream? Your goal? Your best year?

We want to see your vision boards! Tag @independentorg #BeInDependent on Instagram to show us your creations.

Meet Meghan Meredith

Meghan is an Air Force wife, Certified Personal Trainer, and a Certified Health/Wellness Coach based out of Los Angeles. Meghan is the founder of the lifestyle wellness brand, HomeBodySoul, and she is also the creator of Whole Body Fitness: A Self-Guided Fitness Planner. Meghan loves sunflowers, sipping green tea in the early morning, and moving her body! She is passionate about inspiring women how to become better stewards of their homes, bodies, and souls.

Connect with Meghan

FacebookInstagramWebsiteFitness Planner

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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 Corie’s feature.
“I remember many times where I think I sat in the middle of my living room and wept, only to get up and do it all again. I’ve also had low moments where I burned myself out by taking on too much and being all things to all people. I have since learned to set limits on myself and healthy boundaries with others.”
— Corie Weathers, LPC

Click on Image for Facebook Live Video

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?

13 years ago, my husband met a green beret at the gym, came home and said he wanted to become a chaplain.  Of course this was news to me and for almost 2 years I said no.  I thought we had everything we needed as a civilian family, but what we didn’t have was a career where he not only had a sense of purpose but joy.  What I could not have known was just how much joy I would have in this lifestyle myself.  The military spouse journey is a marathon.  You start off with adrenaline only to find there are slumps along the way.  Everyone experiences pain and discouragement, but eventually you look up and realize there are people cheering you on and you are not alone.  For me, the spouse journey has brought me to a place where I now know there is no other place I am called to be. 

Are you a health or wellness expert?

I am a mental health counselor.  I have served women out of prison, substance abuse, trauma, adolescents, and military marriages.  In the last few years I have expanded to serving first responder families as well.  So much of their life is similar to ours and they have even fewer resources than military, and without the community support. I love nothing more than being welcomed into someone else’s journey where I get to not only listen to their story, but play some part in their healing.  

What is a low moment when your health suffered the most and how did you overcome it?

Deployments are always on the list of lows.  I was parenting two small boys during a difficult and tragic deployment while also serving as the Care Team Coordinator.  I have gray hair now because one of those sons decided to show his strong willed side.  I remember many times where I think I sat in the middle of my living room and wept, only to get up and do it all again.  I’ve also had low moments where I burned myself out by taking on too much and being all things to all people.  I have since learned to set limits on myself and healthy boundaries with others.

The longer you are a military spouse, the more of these you have. This doesn’t have to be discouraging.  I now look back and realize that those moments stretched my character and made me who I am today.  Tomorrow’s struggle will do the same.

Share with us a high moment during your wellness journey!

Of course, winning 2015 AFI Military Spouse of the Year was a huge moment.  Not because I won the award, but because it was a such a public thank you.  So many of us give every part of ourselves with no recognition or thank you.  I vowed that day to extend that thank you to as many military spouses as possible. My other “high” was the opportunity to travel overseas with the Secretary of Defense and visit troops of four branches (Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force).  I traveled with press and got to experience a glimpse of what deployment is like.  It was  a game changer for my marriage to finally see what my husband had been talking about and trying to get me to understand.  I hope to bring that message to more marriages through my book Sacred Spaces: My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage.  

Sacred Spaces: My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage By Corie Weathers

 I am 41 now and I absolutely love it.  I am healthier than I have ever been- in perspective, overall health, and confidence.  I give myself so much  more grace now than I used to and my priorities are more in line.  My current goal is to continue to refine my priorities, narrow my “yes-es” to opportunities that truly utilize my gifts, and encourage more marriages. 

How do you avoid burnout?

Take care of yourself first before trying to serve others.  Neglecting your body and your soul will only cause you to make impulsive decisions aimed at pleasing the world when the world will never have its fill.

What is one personal habit that contributes to your success?

Be apart of someone else’s success.  Too many people try to succeed by taking advantage of others.  A rising tide lifts all ships.  I always try to look for where I can pull someone up or share an opportunity.  You never know, that person may be someone who later extends a hand to you.
 

“Wellness is knowing who you are; your loves, your hates, your weaknesses and your strengths, and then having the courage to do something good anyway.”
— Corie WHAT IS A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE YOU WOULD SHARE WITH THE COMMUNITY?

The InDependent team recommends downloading the FREE Lifegiver App to listen to monthly podcast and interviews to encourage your marriage, access free marriage resources, and Lifegiver groups.

A journal!  There are so many wonderful books, podcasts, and resources out there to improve your marriage.  Beginning a journal allows you to process all of your thoughts privately.  Rather than trying to talk everything out with your spouse (which can sometimes lead to conflict), try journaling first and you will be surprised how much more productive your communication and conversations will become.

IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

Boundaries by Townsend and Cloud is my go-to recommendation! One of my favorite podcasts is Java with Julie on marriage and sexuality

Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life By Henry Cloud, John Townsend

(Purchases using the links above will help InDependent cover administrative costs for our programs at no extra cost to you!)

ABOUT corie weathers, lpc

Corie is a licensed professional counselor (LPC), is a sought-after speaker, consultant and author. Corie has focused her career for the last 15 years as a counselor specializing in marriage, divorce, women's issues, PTSD, and substance abuse. In 2015, Corie was named the 2015 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year® where she advocated for mental health issues and served as a media correspondent writing online and print publications, consulting for command teams, and speaking to groups on issues like PTSD, grief, and marriage.  She traveled to Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to visit troops and see deployment conditions.  
Today, Corie continues to encourage others through her inspirational blog and podcast available on the free Lifegiver App- With Corie Weathers.  She currently serves as an Ambassador for the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation serving military and first responder families and volunteers.

CONNECT WITH Corie

Facebook: Corie Weathers, LPC | Website: Corie Weathers, LPC | Instagram: @corieweatherslpc | Email: corie@corieweathers.com | Twitter: @corieLPC  |  Lifegiver Podcast & App

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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 Patrice’s feature.
“My favorite form of self care is...finally learning how to set boundaries for myself and not feeling guilty, bad or afraid of how the other person will receive it”
— Dr. Patrice Carter TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?

My journey as a military spouse began in 2009 when I married the love of my life, Dalton. 

Are you a health or wellness expert?

Not yet! One of my numerous goals is to obtain a health coaching certification. I am a major health enthusiast.

Click on Image for Facebook Live Video

What is a low moment when your health suffered the most and how did you overcome it?

My low point as a spouse came from walking with my husband, Dalton, through the VA system for help to increase with his  benefits as a disabled veteran and the lack of concern, assistance and negative outcome we experienced. In addition, having to relive his combat moments in the process of working to get benefits he is owed and deserves was beyond stressful. 

We overcame it working together as a team and talking with other veterans who had similar experiences.

Share with us a high moment during your wellness journey!

I went vegan November 2016  and then in 2017 my husband decided to join me. This has made a tremendous difference in my health and overall well-being. In addition, it is such a blessing to have my life partner on the same journey and to know that he is also focusing on being healthy and living a quality life.

My greatest success has been learning how to plan meals and cook yummy and nutritious vegan foods from scratch.  We made a huge spread for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and it turned out so well! We made desserts, mac and cheese, a nut loaf, butternut squash lasagna, kale salad and more. It was all plant-based, delicious and beautiful!

I can truly say that I am feeling my healthiest now. This is a result of my intention to focus on what I believe are the four pillars of health: spiritual, physical, mental/emotional and relational (to self and others). My goal is to spend time with the Lord in prayer and stillness daily; to move my body daily and to feed it healing foods; to say 'No' when I need to and when it’s the best decision for me; to be kind to myself and to be in healthy and inspiring relationships with myself and others. This includes intentionally spending quality time (with my loves, my family and my friends/community).

I have never felt more in alignment, on track, honored and blessed as having the opportunity to sow into the lives of others as a Christian Life Coach Trainer. These Coaches challenged, inspired and raised the bar for me to continue to do what I LOVE to do and to offer others the opportunity to do the same!

What is your favorite form of self-care?

My favorite form of self care is--can I please choose two? Finally learning how to set boundaries for myself and not feeling guilty, bad or afraid of how the other person will receive it, and working out. Working out for me is going to the YMCA, my 2015 gift to myself. The YMCA is my happy place. I have found joy, renewal and my wellness community there. My other forms of self care are running virtual races with my friends who are out of state, Zumba (I totally go left when everyone else is going right) and just trying fun workouts that make me laugh, help me to decompress and be inspired by the strength of my body.

What is one personal habit that contributes to your success?

One personal habit that contributes to my success is prayer and meditation. I have noticed that when I wake up early and spend my morning praying, reading or just being still- I feel SO centered, at peace, and able to face my day. This time allows me to empty my mind and gives me the space to hear God, make wise decisions and to press the reset button.

“Wellness is a golden state of mind.”
— Dr. Patrice WHAT IS A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE YOU WOULD SHARE WITH THE COMMUNITY?

I would totally share the YMCA because of their mission to support and be a resource to youth and to families, and their desire to create and nurture healthy communities. They are really affordable and as a member you can use any of the YMCAs throughout the city, region and state. Here is a list of what the YMCA can do for military families

IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

I would recommend Spiritual Runner by Jollee Paden because it is a very inspiring and equipping devotional dedicated to runners. The author reminds us that we can apply our running and working out mindsets to living passionate and fruitful lives dedicated to God in the pursuit of loving others.

Spiritual Runner By Jolee Paden

(Purchases using the links above will help InDependent cover administrative costs for our programs at no extra cost to you!)

ABOUT Dr. Patrice Carter

Dr. Patrice is married to the love of her life, Dalton and they are a blended family and parents to son, Miles, and daughters, Destiny and Desire. They are also now glamparents (as Patice is not ready to be called “grandma”) to Baby Miles. Dr. Patrice is the CEO of Carter Multimedia Consulting, Inc, a motivational speaker, and the founder of Breakpoint Coaching Collective, where she coaches private executive clients and trains Christian Life Coaches. She is also the author of "SUPERb Woman: From Bad Girl to God’s Girl”.

SUPERb Woman: From Bad Girl to God's Girl By Patrice J Carter CONNECT WITH Dr. Patrice

Facebook: Dr. Patrice Carter | Website: Dr. Patrice Carter | Email: patricecarter@drpatricecarter.com | Twitter: @drpatricecarter |  LinkedIn: Dr. Patrice Carter

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InDependent Blog by Navenka Gabrielson - 1M ago

As the month of December winds down and the New Year begins, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions. The idea behind resolutions is a fresh start, a newly revived spirit, a new year in which to accomplish all the things on our lists. This year, I question whether setting lofty goals at the beginning of the year is a smart move. 

We adopt a resolution in earnest, feeling committed and on track. We usually go hard at tackling our resolutions for a month or two, but by March most fall off the wagon and cannot motivate themselves to get back on. 

With that sense of failure comes a myriad of thoughts and feelings, including depression, anger, frustration, and sadness due to the fact that, yet again, you feel weak-willed and unable to stick to anything. Why do we keep doing this to ourselves, year after year? When we don't succeed, how does that make us feel? Is it okay to expose ourselves yet again to this barren wasteland of punishment and internal belittling? 

I am here give you permission to stop the craziness. Get off that Polar Express ride once and for all! Here is a refreshing idea, one that I hope you will try. This year, instead of a making giant, overwhelming resolution, take stock of your life instead. Follow these steps:

  1. Purchase a beautiful journal. 
  2. Write a list of areas of concern that you see as challenging.
  3. Look at each concern and dive a little deeper, making notes in your journal as you go. Ask yourself these questions:
    • Why does this concern you? 
    • Why do you do it? 
    • Why would you like to change? 
    • How do you think that change would benefit your life? 
    • What would it take to achieve that change, one step at a time?

Here are some examples of what that looks like:

Perhaps you eat a pint of ice cream every night. Instead of vowing to steer clear of the sweet stuff, ask yourself why you are eating so much of it? Are you plagued with unhappiness in a relationship and using ice cream as comfort food? Are you stressing about an upcoming move? Maybe you are at a new duty station, experiencing loneliness and need to find ways to make new connections and friendships? Or, is your diet out of kilter? This could cause cravings, if you are missing some nutritional element in your diet. Even if your diet is relatively clean, eating low quality foods brings side effects that add up over time.

Maybe you are addicted to caffeine, and you notice that your one cup of joe in the morning is now more like four or five cups, but it’s still not enough. Read between the lines. Instead of resolving to quit coffee, ask why you need it. Is your blood sugar unstable? Are you not sleeping well? Do you need the buzz to get motivated to go to work or workout? If so, why? Are you in an unfulfilling job? Are you bored with your workouts? Are you not getting enough sleep? What is keeping you up late? Then ask, how can you change the scenario.

It's possible that you noted in your journal that you have little patience with your family, friends, or even yourself. You may notice that during the past year you have been feeling more stressed, overwhelmed, or angry. Before you set a resolution to will yourself to be a happier, calmer, more chillaxed person, ask yourself why you have such feelings. Analyze your life. Do you enjoy your work? Do you have nurturing relationships? Do you need more down time? Are you burning the candle at both ends? Could you use some time to unwind and relax?

How does this sound in comparison to those dreaded resolutions? We can be kinder to ourselves in the coming year. No more trips down the guilt memory lane. By assessing where we are in life and how to grow one step at a time, we follow the path of life-long success. All that’s left are realistic action steps and time to work on them.

Consider a more reflective approach throughout the coming year. Give yourself permission to grow. Assess your progress and listen to what your heart is telling you. We all have unique challenges. Learning to recognize and challenge ourselves to move forward is the real key to success. If we can’t be honest with ourselves, who then can we confide in?

Here’s to an amazing New Year!

Are you burning the candle at both ends? Register for the 3rd Annual Military Spouse Wellness Summit and enjoy a week of wellness from the comfort of your own home!  Find balance before burnout. FREE and VIP tickets available.

MEET NAVENKA GABRIELSON

Navenka grew up in the industrial region of Lancashire, Northern England. She married a U.S. naval officer. Twenty years later, Navenka and her family have lived all over the United States, and now Southeast Asia, surviving well over a dozen moves with two kids, dogs, fish, and countless adventures. She founded Body Harmony, helping others through her skills as a nationally-certified Health and Lifestyle Coach, Personal Trainer, and Pilates instructor. She presents speaking engagements both online and locally on health, wellness, and mindful living. She also enjoys time outdoors with her family, traveling, hiking, biking, or just relaxing. She is a keen potter who enjoys the challenge of throwing ceramics on a potter's wheel.

Holding Down The Fort: The Military Spouses Guide To Surviving and Thriving By Navenka J Gabrielson

If you would like to learn more about taking control of your military life, consider reading my book, Holding Down the Fort - The Military Spouse's Guide to Surviving and Thriving. It is packed with practical ideas that every military spouse can use. You can also visit her website or Facebook and consider registering for a complimentary health coaching session and her email newsletter.

(Purchases using the links above will help InDependent cover administrative costs for our programs at no extra cost to you!)

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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year! With the kids jingle belling, and everyone telling you be of good cheer. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
— George Wyle and Edward Pola

Yesterday, amidst the craziness that my morning held, I asked myself, "Am I jingle belling in good cheer and truly experiencing the most wonderful time of the year?"

Between the holiday command celebrations, visitors, potlucks, the neighborhood cookie exchange, school parties, cooking our family’s favorite meals, and maybe even coping with absences through deployments, it is no wonder we can feel more bah humbug than merry. We can start to feel burned out with so much activity going on. We strive for unrealistic, glossy magazine perfection, from decorating our homes to our holiday meals and everything in between.

Do you feel stressed out? Take a gut check. Are you connecting to what is important to you at this time of the year? If not, why? You may feel so overwhelmed that you cannot relax and connect to the magic of the season.

Here are five simple ideas that can help you find balance, put a spring in your step, and see you through the holiday season so that when you're waiting for the New Year’s ball to drop, you're not also dropping from exhaustion.

1. Take a 15-Minute Walk

No matter what climate you live in, it is important to get outside and connect with nature. Nature is the place where you find both peace and gratitude. When you walk, don't think about how many steps you are getting in or mentally sort through your to-do list. Instead, mindfully engage with your surroundings. You may have walked the block hundreds of times before, but if you practice mindful walking and slow down your pace, you will see beauty all around you. Scan the sky. What color is it? Notice the trees. Are they bare and frostbitten or leafy and green? Hear the birds. Smile and say hello to passersby. Feel the winter sun on your face. Let it melt away stress and provide vitamin D, an immunity booster that will help stave off those yucky germs. Use your senses and tune into life and reduce your blood pressure.

2. Get Your Guru On

Find time in your day to meditate. I can hear you saying, "I cannot quiet my mind. It just won't stop creating stories." It is true the mind is a powerful creator. It creates stories minute by minute. For a refreshing spin on meditation, don't fight the thoughts. Practice acceptance. Wherever you are during your meditation is exactly where you should be. We are under the misconception that when we meditate, we should be in a place of nirvana. I wish! Of course, seasoned gurus, have it down pat and do find tranquility in their practice. But for the novice, the benefit of meditation is the simple act of placing your attention on your breath and reducing your cortisol levels.

Cortisol is the fight or flight stress hormone that wreaks havoc in your body when it is out of balance. During stress, cortisol levels rise. What we don't want is cortisol that does not go back down to its sweet spot. That can lead to undesirable side effects including hormone imbalance, weight gain, that tired but wired feeling, and much more.

Feeling your breath enter and leave your body is your meditation. Use the breath as your anchor. Don't try to clear the mind of every thought. Rather, accept and hear the thoughts, then mentally place them in a box and close the lid.

Meditation and the simple act of slowing down, if only for five minutes each day, will bathe your body with some much-needed TLC.

3. Go Green

With so many delicious holiday treats around, the temptation can be hard to handle. To get a grip on this situation, begin each day with a protein shake that includes a handful of green leafy vegetables. Getting adequate protein in your diet helps prevent cravings by balancing your blood sugar levels. The greens add fiber to help you feel more full, and give your body quality vitamins and minerals. When you start your day with a nutritious breakfast, you are more likely to make better food choices the rest of the day. You could also consider drinking a green smoothie before you go to that holiday social. By going with food in your stomach, you will be less likely to feel famished and can resist the need to eat every treat in sight.

Here's one more tip on holiday noshing. Scan the buffet and pick your favorite items. Balance your selections between savory and sweet choices, and be sure to add some raw veggies that are always on offer — someone has to eat them! Choose a small plate, fill it one time, and stop there. When we take a nibble here and there, we lose track of how much we are eating.

4. H.I.I.T. It

High Intensity Interval Training is your best friend at this time of the year when time is short, but workouts are essential. If you only have 15-30 minutes, take it. H.I.I.T workouts are a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training exercises. You can find classes at the installation gym, online videos, and online virtual membership subscriptions. Exercise boosts immunity, reduces stress, and can help save your sanity. If H.I.I.T is not hitting it off with you, get your groove on. Put on some music and dance. Many of my clients do this because it is fun, easy, and convenient. Caution, you may get the attention of passersby peeking in your window as you strut your stuff around your living room.

5. Check In and Check Out

What does a balanced life look like to you? It is different for us all. Check in and ask yourself what you’re going to do this week to make time to just be. "Just be what, Navenka?" I hear you ask. Over-scheduling ourselves and our families during the holidays is common and hard to avoid. It is not necessary to accept every gracious invitation. Choose one or two things that appeal to you and make peace with that. Is it more important to show up to everything and not enjoy anything or go to a couple of events and let your hair down and have fun?

Schedule time on your calendar for you and your family to slow down and spend quality time together. You may use the opportunity to chat and catch up, play a game, watch your favorite holiday movie, or indulge in a family holiday tradition. Allow yourself time to just “be.”

You can find more ideas and a deeper discussion on these topics, including strategies to make workouts fit into your military life, in my book, Holding Down the Fort - The Military Spouse's Guide to Surviving and Thriving.

From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!

Are you dreaming of a post-holiday vacation? Register for the 3rd Annual Military Spouse Wellness Summit and enjoy a week of wellness from the comfort of your own home! It's time to Treat-Yo-Self! 

Meet Navenka Gabrielson

Navenka grew up in the industrial region of Lancashire, Northern England. She married a U.S. naval officer. Twenty years later, Navenka and her family have lived all over the United States, and now Southeast Asia, surviving well over a dozen moves with two kids, dogs, fish, and countless adventures. She founded Body Harmony, helping others through her skills as a nationally-certified Health and Lifestyle Coach, Personal Trainer, and Pilates instructor. She presents speaking engagements both online and locally on health, wellness, and mindful living. She also enjoys time outdoors with her family, traveling, hiking, biking, or just relaxing. She is a keen potter who enjoys the challenge of throwing ceramics on a potter's wheel.

To learn more, visit her website and consider registering for a complimentary health coaching session and her email newsletter. You can also follow her on Facebook.

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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 Jasmine’s feature.
“My favorite form of self-care is my morning coffee. I used to wake up in the morning to go running, but then one day I realized that I really hate working out in the morning. It was one more thing I was doing because people said it was the “thing to do”. But there’s no one-size-fits-all for life.”
— Jasmine Farnsworth TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?

My journey as a military spouse is an interesting one, because I was originally in the Army for about 10 years. In fact, I was actually my husband’s boss at one point. One day we decided we wanted to have a family and I had other things I wanted to do with my life, so I left the service.

Click on Image for Facebook Live Video

What is a low moment when your health suffered the most and how did you overcome it?

My lowest moment was probably right after I left the military. I had just had a baby, my husband was away at the Officer Basic course, and my old unit, along with all of my friends, had deployed. For the first time in over 10 years, I was jobless and alone, and with a baby! I felt like I had absolutely no control over my life and I remember wondering where things had gone wrong. It probably didn’t help that I was suffering from post-partum depression (PPD). I received that diagnosis months later.

It took me a while, but I had to get used to asking for help. I think I had a breakthrough when I was trying to get off an airplane with my new baby. I was struggling to grab all of my bags and not drop my baby, and this sweet, older woman walks up and says, “Let me help you. I’m a grandmother, I know how hard this must be for you.” I started crying at that point, just hearing someone say that they understood how I felt was like an emotional release, plus I’m always a little emotional at the kindness of strangers. I made a promise that I would start reaching out for help from then on, and that I would start making time for myself. It was what I needed, and what my baby needed, too.

Share with us a high moment during your wellness journey!

It’s hard to pick a single high moment. I try to stay positive and healthy as a rule, but if I had to pick one it would be a few months after my lowest moment. I had just completed my MBA, I was in therapy and actively treating my PPD, and eating healthier. After months of training I completed my first half-marathon post-baby. When I crossed the finish line and saw my husband cheering for me with my son, I remember thinking, “I can do anything again!”

What is one personal habit that contributes to your success?

I’ve learned to really evaluate my own thinking and focus my efforts on what makes me and my family happy.  If I decide I want to do something, I try and figure out what my motivation is. If it’s to impress other people or because I think that’s what other people expect of me, I toss it out. That sort of drive will never sustain or fulfill you. We don’t realize how much of what we do is influenced by the people around us. Social media has made the comparison game even worse. I remember seeing all the Facebook posts that my friends would share of the homemade super-nutritious baby food they make for their toddler, served on a ceramic plate they molded and hand-painted themselves and feeling like a total failure. But, everyone has their own path in life. Now instead of feeling envious or dejected when I see those pictures I celebrate their accomplishments.  

 
“Wellness is feeling whole, strong, and grateful in body and mind.”
— Jasmine What is your favorite form of self-care?

My favorite form of self-care is my morning coffee. I used to wake up in the morning to go running, but then one day I realized that I really hate working out in the morning. It was one more thing I was doing because people said it was the “thing to do”. But there’s no one-size-fits-all for life. I’ve started waking up about an hour earlier than everyone in the house to relax, have a cup of coffee, and plan my day. Now, I exercise in the afternoon.

WHAT IS A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE YOU WOULD SHARE WITH THE COMMUNITY?

Go to the USO. I’m a little biased because I used to manage one, but they have tons of resources to help you connect with other spouses. It’s good to find a tribe whenever you PCS, and the USO can really help facilitate relationship building. Some also offer fitness classes. The USO here at Ft Belvoir partners with Honest Soul Yoga to provide classes for military members and their dependents. It’s a great resource to make use of.

IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

Read “Mindset” by Carol Dweck. It’s life-changing. So much of wellness and being satisfied with life is mental. I honestly believe that if you have a strong mind, you can overcome anything. This book will help you identify patterns of thinking that are stopping you from reaching your potential. It has some great tips for parents, too. And it’s a really easy read.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success By Carol S. Dweck

(Purchases using the links above will help InDependent cover administrative costs for our programs at no extra cost to you!)

ABOUT Jasmine Farnsworth

Jasmine is married with three children: Connor age 4, Lila age 3, and Benjamin age 1.  She's originally from Hawaii, but has lived all over the U.S., plus 2 years in Korea and a year in Afghanistan. Jasmine currently works in Learning and Development, as a Program Manager at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. She loves cooking, running, traveling, and studying foreign languages. She's fluent in Korean and can get by in Italian and French!

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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 Eleanor’s feature.
“Diets suck and they don’t give sustainable results. Eating a balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein and vegetables will always be in style. It is the best way for your body to thrive, the way it is meant to be. ”
— Eleanor Duelley TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?

Click on Image for Facebook Live Video

I was an Surface Warfare Officer when I met my husband who is a Naval Aviator. We got married and I decided to hand in my uniform to stay at home with the kids and enjoy traveling as a military spouse. We first bought a house in Odenton, Maryland when I was teaching at USNA, then we moved to Lemoore, California. We stayed there about 1 year, had our first son Tyler,  then moved to Southern California.  After 3 lovely years and another child (Travis), we moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where my husband attended the Naval Postgraduate School. We were delighted when we got the news that we would be moving to Stuttgart, Germany, and moved 12 months later!  Germany was an amazing time, and brought back a little girl! It was the most amazing surprise I could ever dream of, and then we got orders back to Southern California!! We stayed there 3 years and then moved to Northern Virginia where we currently live while my husband works in D.C.. Between tackle football, ballet, violin, wrestling, and school work, we find time to visit with East Coast family and friends that we have met over the years.

Are you a health or wellness expert? Tell us about it and how it has impacted your wellness journey

I am a certified Holistic Health Coach, a Personal Trainer, a Les Mills Bodypump Instructor, Group Fitness Coordinator, and a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant. I realized that fad-dieting and burning out at the gym was not the way to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle. Learning how foods and nutrition affect my body has changed my life and inspired me to become a health coach to help other moms who struggle in a similar way. 

My career as a Surface Warfare Officer was behind me and becoming a military spouse and mother shifted my responsibilities drastically. I struggled with putting myself on the priority list, with so many other things pushed ahead of my choices. I wanted to be healthy, tried to diet once in awhile, but it wasn't until I went to Nutrition School and became a Certified Holistic Health Coach that my mindset around food and wellness began to change. I now live a life of freedom from the deprivation dieting, the depression of weight gain and the confused identity of being a mother. I have learned to let food do it's job: nourish my body to make me flourish.

HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY HIGHS OR LOWS AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?

I would have to say my lowest moments come around right after my husband leaves for deployment. Although I am used to the feelings, know they are coming and am completely prepared for the scenario, it just kills me everytime. I often need a few days of being a hermit to shake it off and find my groove. I find that working out, finding friends with similar lifestyle goals and having fun with my kids helps to move me out of the funk.
My highest moments are usually the homecomings! I feel like my life is put back together in a cohesive way and I have help again! When I decided to become a health coach, I was so encouraged and inspired by my husbands willingness to step up to support my dreams and ambitions. He often will workout with me and offer support and accountability that I love! Everybody needs support, accountability and love.

What is one personal habit that contributes to your success?

Diets suck and they don't give sustainable results. Eating a balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein and vegetables will always be in style. It is the best way for your body to thrive, the way it is meant to be. When you deprive yourself of a certain food group, your body has to overcome and adapt, leaving it out of balance. You might see a change on the scale, but you must think of the whole picture of health. This means you might lose weight but have trouble sleeping or having energy. There will never be a supplement or substitute that will replace good, whole-foods nutrition. 

What is your favorite form of self-care?

My favorite form of self care is finding time to be alone and just be. I often meditate in my room or on my couch with some soft music, set my diffuser and block out the noises & distractions around me. It helps to re-center and recharge me for getting back into my life as a mom, wife and health coach.

WHAT IS A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE YOU WOULD SHARE WITH THE COMMUNITY?
“You are what you eat!”
— Eleanor

I would love to connect with anyone that would like to chat about their challenges with their weight management or just maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Moms need to do this for themselves, but also as examples to their friends, family and loved ones.  

IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

I just love the book “Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting” by Lynn Grabhorn. She is such an amazing, inspiring woman that really shows you how to show up in your life. You are responsible for your vibration and others are affected by how you feel. It’s incredible.

Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting by Grabhorn, Lynn [Paperback] By Lynn Grabhorn

(Purchases using the links above will help InDependent cover administrative costs for our programs at no extra cost to you!)

ABOUT Eleanor Duelley

Eleanor Duelley is a Stay-At-Home mom of 3 children, a Military Veteran, Naval Aviator Spouse and Certified Holistic Health Coach. Throughout the last decade, she struggled with the ups and downs of weight loss and living a healthy lifestyle until she found her balance through whole-foods nutrition. Eleanor graduated from the prestigious Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City to become an Online Holistic Health Coach and to support and share the amazing possibilities of health and wellness for women all over the world. 

Connect With Eleanor

Facebook: Holistic Health From the Military Wife | Online Community: Healthy Moms Love Wine Too | Website: Simple.Healthy.Well. | E-Book: 5-Day Simple Slimdown | Email: fitduelley@gmail.comInstagram: @eleanorjc

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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 Samantha’s feature.
“Believe it or not reintegration was DIFFICULT. I was not expecting that, especially because I missed my husband every single day he was gone and counted down every day until his arrival...The process was a mix of emotions and it took some time until things felt normal again.”
— Samantha Levin TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?

Click Image for Facebook Live Video

When I got pregnant with my daughter I really let myself go and literally "ate for two"- okay, maybe 3 or 4. When I left the hospital after giving birth I didn't recognize myself. That entire year post partum I tried every diet you could think of and just couldn't stick to anything. When my daughter turned one my husband was getting ready to leave for his second deployment for 9 months and we made the decision that it would be best if I went to New York to be with family. Losing the baby weight was something I wanted to focus on while he was gone as a distraction, but I still didn't know how I was going to go about it. When I got to NY I found myself extremely anxious about my husband's safety and feeling isolated from my military life. My husband was going "outside the wire" several days a week and it was getting to the point where I had trouble sleeping. One day I just started running and I noticed I started to sleep better and feel more relaxed during the day. Just like that I was hooked! I also started to eat healthier, and that's when I noticed I was losing weight and noticing a big difference.

HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY HIGHS OR LOWS AS A MILITARY SPOUSE?

Believe it or not reintegration was DIFFICULT. I was not expecting that, especially because I missed my husband every single day he was gone and counted down every day until his arrival. When my husband left for deployment our daughter was 12 months, had a very small vocabulary, and was not walking yet. When he returned she was 21 months, walking, and her vocabulary grew tremendously. I was living in NY and had just left family I was used to seeing every day. My husband and I had to learn how to live with each other again, and he also had to get to know his daughter since she was basically a completely different person from the baby he left. The process was a mix of emotions and it took some time until things felt normal again. 

A recent high moment was when I won third place in my age group at my first half marathon! It really showed me where all my hard work went.

WHAT IS ONE PERSONAL HABIT THAT CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SUCCESS?

I use the app MyFitnessPal every day! It's a great way to track your calories, macros, and workouts. In addition to tracking, you learn so much about nutrition from inputting the foods and reading their nutritional information. At this point I can tell you the amount of fiber, sugar, and protein for almost every vegetable (ha). If MyFitnessPal isn't the right app for you there are a few other ones that are great such as LoseIt. Using an app like these are a serious game changer. Most people don't realize how much they are consuming daily without tracking it.

“Wellness to me means well-being.”
— Samantha WHAT IS A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE YOU WOULD SHARE WITH THE COMMUNITY?

In the crazy world of social media that we live in we need to be extremely careful with the advice we get on the internet. There are a lot of "health coaches" out there who are not qualified to give nutritional advice. I see this all the time. We need to remember that anyone can be a "health coach" but not everyone can become a dietician overnight. I believe knowledge is power and I have respect for those who paid and worked hard in school who have overtime gained the knowledge to offer nutrition or fitness advice. You will see me share my recipes on Instagram but you will not see me tell people what they should and shouldn't eat. What works for some people may not work for others. 
That being said, social media can also be a fantastic place to get advice and inspiration from those who are qualified! On Instagram I follow a dietitian named Ilana Mulhstein. She posts not only great advice on nutrition and fitness, but she shows ways to get kids to eat healthy foods. In addition, she came up with this fantastic slogan to incorporate in your every day life- "Water first, veggies most". Seriously, if you don't follow her you should! 
Another person I get great advice from is another registered dietitian named Suzanne Fisher. She is awesome and just about anyone can relate to her! Most recently she posted a video about introducing certain foods to kids under 12 months to help avoid allergies.

IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

I read The American Wife when Michael was deployed and loved it. It is written by former (deceased) Navy Seal Chris Kyle's wife (American Sniper) Taya Kyle. The part of the book that covers her husband's death is extremely sad, but most of the book covers her experience as an active duty military spouse. Taya also used fitness to help cope with the death of her husband. She is truly an inspiring woman. 

American Wife: Love, War, Faith, and Renewal By Taya Kyle, Jim DeFelice American Sniper: Memorial Edition By Chris Kyle

Working on your core post-partem is an important part of the recovery process and getting back in shape!

(Purchases using the links above will help InDependent cover administrative costs for our programs at no extra cost to you!)

ABOUT Samantha Levin

Samantha is an Army JAG spouse and native New Yorker currently stationed at Fort Benning, GA. She has two children, Isabella and Hank, and a Cavalier King Charles dog named Jagy. She loves to cook clean colorful meals, and go for a run at any opportunity. Recently, she ran the entire 9 months of her pregnancy! Samantha is a RRCA Running Coach and hopes to start coaching at her next duty station. She is also passionate about politics, and can never have enough peanut butter or coffee.

CONNECT WITH Samantha

Instagram: @runningoncolors

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InDependent Blog by Diane Norwood, Ms, Rd, Cde - 4M ago
Tips for a Healthier Halloween

I don’t follow football, but I am a fan of fall, Halloween, and any excuse for some good, better-for-you, party food. However, when Halloween falls on a weekday, it can be especially tricky to get some nutritious foods into your family before you collect more than a month’s supply of dessert in less than an hour. Whether you head out trick-or-treating, or you’re planning a party for adults or teens, why not pre-game Halloween with some easy, festive, real foods? Your guests will enjoy your creative, enticing Halloween treats so much they might not even realize that you tricked them into eating healthier.

Holiday traditions are important for military families because they create predictability and something to look forward to in an inherently changing lifestyle. Halloween with adorable and healthier festive foods became a tradition in my family because my oldest daughter’s birthday is the day before Halloween. In the toddler years, it was easy to trick her into eating healthier snacks if they were creative and cute. But then over the years, these fun holiday Halloween foods have become our nostalgic tradition. Of course, we still enjoy the real deal treats, including candy. But, we enjoy making these real-food ideas the forefront of our pre-game Halloween party, and the candy comes in last, as dessert should. 

Halloween is the start of a holiday sweeps of sorts that focuses on treats and comfort foods. You don’t have to completely deny yourself the traditional rich foods of the holidays to be healthy, but it can be hard to find balance. Whenever you can focus on eating fewer processed foods and more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole-fat dairy products, and unprocessed meats—real foods—it helps you build some healthy habits that last even through the holidays. 
 

Your Pre-Game Party

Here’s how you can start the holiday season off well with a plan to pre-game Halloween by adding real-food fun to your annual traditions:
1.    Figure out your main dish(es) and add a few easy sides.
2.    Keep it real and simple. The less processed the food, the better. The easier, the better. 
3.    Enlist the help of kids or friends to make some things in advance. 
4.    Or to simplify even more, decide to make some options into build-your-own stations during your party.

Try these main dish and side dish/snack ideas or use them as inspiration to create ideas of your own:

Main Dishes

Consider your easiest, one-pot meals and then think of ways to add a little creativity to make an everyday healthy meal more festive. This keeps things simple, yet more fun and healthier than takeout. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:

  • Make up a batch of candy corn quesadillas. You can use cheese, and if desired, add in some pinto beans or meat.  Serve salsa, guacamole, and sour cream on the side.
  • Try these finger-licking good, gluten-free, oven-baked chicken wings with homemade blue cheese dressing.
  • Try making this chicken pot pie and carve a jack-o-lantern out of the top crust as the vents. I usually skip the bottom crust and just use a top crust to make it a little healthier.
  • Serve up bowls of homemade chili and cut slices of cheese into triangles and mouth shapes to allow guests to form their own jack-o-lantern faces on top of the chili. This is easiest if you buy slices of cheese and have a cookie cutter do the work for you.
  • Mummy pizzas are always a hit and they can be build-your-own with bagels, sauce, and slices of Muenster (no pun intended) cheese, and olive slices as eyes. Or made in advance.
“Whenever you can focus on eating fewer processed foods and more whole foods...it helps you build some healthy habits that last even through the holidays.”
Side Dishes and Snacks

Everyone needs to eat more fruits and veggies. Try using them to make your snacks look more adorable. Or better yet, have guests do it themselves. All of these are so simple and kids are usually willing to help.

  • A veggie skeleton with this homemade garlic ranch dip is so easy and you can buy a veggie tray or hit the grocery store salad bar as a short cut to make it even easier.
  • Try assembling these apple peanut butter bites and wait for the smiles to appear. These could be build-your-own for a fun activity.
  • Turn deviled eggs into olive “spiders” for a creepy but classic and cute Halloween snack.
  • It doesn’t get any easier than jack-o-lantern clementine oranges and they are the perfect small size when you have many choices on a buffet.
  • Cheese stick fingers with cucumber fingernails are creepy yet appetizing and easy.
You Can Have Your Candy—And Eat It, Too

Some may still whittle away their candy stashes quicker than you can say “Happy Halloween,” and that’s okay. You don’t want to be too restrictive, with yourself or with kids, because that can backfire. But, by pre-gaming Halloween, you’ll have done your part to fill your guests’ bellies with some nourishing, real food before the mad candy dash. Every effort you make to build habits around a fun, healthier holiday food tradition helps you and your family find a balance between real foods and treats, even when the holiday’s focus is mainly on candy.

About Diane Norwood

Diane is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and freelance health writer. She wanders the world with her Navy pediatrician husband and their three daughters, each born in a different country. She has made it her life’s work to savor authentic, healthy foods, grapple with and summarize nutrition science, and showcase how to make easy, real food on her blog, www.thewanderingrd.com.

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InDependent Blog by Taylor Monaco, United Through Readi.. - 4M ago

Courtesy of United Through Reading

United Through Reading, a nonprofit organization, connects military families through stories read aloud on video.

When we talk about military families and the challenges they face during deployments we often envision the 3-year-old boy who misses his mom and doesn’t understand why she is gone, or the service member who is missing out on special moments, like birthdays, with the family at home. What we sometimes don’t always consider is the hardship of the at-home caregiver doing it all solo during deployments. The primary caregiver at home bears some tough burdens during deployment as they react to the emotions of military children and provide comfort, strength, and stability while a military parent is away.

Veronica is a Navy wife of more than 15 years. Over the course of her husband Rex’s career, they’ve spent more than four years apart. They have four children who have also endured this time away from their dad. Veronica has taken advantage of several resources for military spouses, but one of her favorites is United Through Reading (UTR), a nonprofit that connects military families through the read-aloud experience by video-recording services members reading books to their families at home and shipping the video and book home to keep them connected. 

Veronica says, “Our first UTR video arrived just after Rex had left on a 10-month deployment. As soon as I pressed play and his smiling face popped up on the screen saying hi to the kids, their eyes lit up. They watched that video over and over until it was bedtime. They were so excited to see him and said it felt like he was here reading bedtime stories to them like he always did.”

Courtesy of United Through Reading

Courtesy of United Through Reading

“With the UTR videos, I can pop one in make dinner uninterrupted...Sometimes I read a book myself for a rest. Those little 30-minute breaks can really help spouses recharge when they are alone.””

At first, Veronica thought the video was just for the kids to stay connected to their dad, but she soon realized it was a gift for her as well. 

“When my husband is deployed I lose my teammate and support system at home. I am the only one that the kids can come to when they need something and I have to be on all of the time. With the UTR videos, I can pop one in make dinner uninterrupted, or I can use the video for Rex to tell the kids their bedtime stories while I tidy up and do the dishes before tucking them into bed. Sometimes I read a book myself for a rest. Those little 30-minute breaks can really help spouses recharge when they are alone.”

United Through Reading supports military caregivers and the entire military family. Learn more about United Through Reading by visiting them at their links below.

Facebook | Website | Instagram | Twitter

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