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Whether you are preparing for a PCS move or going on vacation, there are things you can do to keep your stress low and your wellness goals on track.

Long drives and cramped cars can be stressful on vacation. Add the logistics of packing your family, pets, valuables, non-packable liquids, and maybe even house plants into one or two vehicles to move who knows how far, and it becomes the all-too-familiar grinding, mind-numbing experience that you’ve probably experienced before. If you’re a military spouse lucky enough to have remote work, you might even have to use up quite a few of your vacation days to execute a PCS.

Just the thought of sitting in a car for hours is enough to drive anyone stir crazy. If you’re trying to maintain a healthy routine, vacation or PCSing can set you back, because it’s impossible to keep fit and find nutritious food options on the road, right?

The good news is that it isn’t unreasonable to stay healthy during a long road trip, and trying some of the tips below will make the journey a lot easier, without compromising your health goals.

Bring Healthy Snacks

One of the most important components of any successful road trip is the fuel (and we’re not talking gas, though it’s probably good to have some in the tank). Too often, we find it easier to fill up on convenience store junk food, and end up falling off the health wagon. With a little bit of pre-planning and keeping the basics of good nutrition in mind, it’s possible to stock up on snacks full of protein, fiber, and balanced ingredients. Items like fresh fruit, veggies, yogurt, and cheese are easy to bring in a cooler, while putting nuts, crackers, and jerky into resealable bags in advance helps limit portions to recommended serving sizes. When you inevitably make stops along the way, bottled water and low-sugar juices are readily available at most travel stops and gas stations, and you can always make smart choices like skipping the deep-fried fast food items and opting for the salad option when stopping for meals.

Fit in Fitness

Before we say “impossible” again, just remember this mantra: your body is your gym. Sure, it would be challenging to find time for any physical activity if you weren’t going to make any stops, but that wouldn’t be much of a road trip. Take advantage of roadside landmarks, bathroom breaks, and food stops, including when you stop and rest for the night. If you’re used to grinding away at a gym using machines and weights, this might not seem effective to you, however incorporating any movement at all is beneficial. Try getting out of the car to stretch your legs at every opportunity, and incorporate a workout in your hotel room. Using a workout app can help you organize quick, structured routines that maximize limited space. You benefit from having a fitness professional plan and guide your workouts, so it's one less thing you have to think about!

Take it Easy

There are usually two schools of thought when it comes to long car trips -- those who prefer to buckle down and drive with the fewest possible stops, and those who take breaks and swap out drivers when possible. (There’s been a call lately for the military to ship one vehicle for continental U.S. moves because not being able to swap out drivers adds to the stress of a PCS.) The latter is always the best option in terms of physical health and maintaining your sanity. Not stopping for frequent rests can aggravate back pain, cramps, and increase overall stress. It may get you there ahead of schedule, but it’s not worth the stress and wear that it can put on your body. Take rests whenever you’re feeling sore or stir crazy, and try to make time to stop for the night to rest, no matter how many eligible drivers are in the car.

Get Adequate Rest

Ensuring that you are getting quality sleep and paying attention to your body’s signals goes hand-in-hand with taking enough breaks. A tired driver is a dangerous driver, and so it’s crucial to get proper sleep on a road trip, especially on an epic multi-state voyage. If you’re beginning to feel tired, immediately pull over and swap drivers if possible, get some fresh air, or even close your eyes for a bit if you’re in a safe space. You should also be mindful of where you are staying, and the conditions in which you are sleeping. Camping along the road can be a fun experience, but constantly sleeping on the ground or in a tent throughout your trip may cause your body to fatigue faster. You might consider camping every other night.

Tips like these may help you stay on track with your wellness during a move or vacation, and ultimately, leave you feeling more refreshed and energized. PCSing is tough and road trips can disrupt a routine, but putting your best foot forward, and keeping your health a priority are some of the best things you can do for yourself and your family.

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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 Amanda’s feature.
“I have learned to have faith in what I know I can do and just do it. Don’t worry about what others think you can do, know what you can do and go do it!”
— Amanda Huffman

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

I met my husband in college while we were both pursuing our dream of becoming officers in the Air Force. He commissioned in 2006 while I still had a year of school left.  That year apart we stayed connected through phone calls and occasionally trips. We were married in March 2007 and  I commissioned in June 2007. We were lucky and I was able to be stationed at the same base with my husband. Since we were both active duty, we spent a good amount of time apart with the various training missions and his frequent business trips. My third year in the Air Force my name got tagged for a deployment to Afghanistan. That year I left my husband behind and went off on a crazy adventure.

When we later moved to Ohio I made the transition from active duty to diaper duty. I truly believed being a stay-at-home mom was going to be an easy job. I had gone to Afghanistan. I had this. Motherhood ended up being a lot harder than I expected and a year after my son was born we PCSed from Ohio to California. Now, we are on the move again, moving from my home state of California to Virginia.  I am looking forward to the new friends we will make and the new adventures to come.

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

Leaving the military and becoming a mom at the same time was really hard for me. I lost my identity as I made the transition. I didn’t realize how much of my worth had been tied into the status of military member. It didn’t help that my husband was sent off to two months of training 8 weeks after my son was born.

At the time, I just got through each day. There were a lot of tears. My son was a good sleeper up until the day my husband left and really never recovered from him being gone. Slowly I started to find myself. I first started working out again. I did one of the Beachbody programs  and it helped me get in my workout each day since they were only 25 minutes a day. I was able to find an excitement and passion for working out again.

I also found a love for writing. I started following a blogger who challenged people to write for five minutes each Friday. My goal was to find five minutes to write and each week I did it I was so excited. As I continued to write I found a passion to share my story.

Share with us a high moment during your wellness journey!

With my first son I had wanted to have a natural birth, but plans changed and I ended up being induced and getting an epidural. I was able to have a vaginal birth, but it wasn’t the birth story I had been hoping for.  With my second son, I was able to have the natural birth I had been hoping for.

My second son was born in November and that following May I had signed up for a half marathon. I was lucky and was able to start training within weeks of giving birth and my training paid off when I was able to break the two-hour goal for a half marathon. I now have a passion for running and have completed a number of half marathons since living in LA. 

What is your favorite form of self care?

My favorite form of self-care is getting away from life responsibilities and spending time with my girlfriends. Being able to have a  day where I can spend time with friends is always so healing. A few weeks ago a few of my girlfriends and I spent a day at Disneyland and it was a breath of fresh air. Next month we are having a spa day and I am really looking forward to it.

What is one personal habit that contributes to your success?

Not allowing people to tell me I can’t do it. Or if they do, it gives me the challenge that I need to prove them wrong. While I was in the military, people would often second guess my ability to do whatever task was at hand. I have learned to have faith in what I know I can do and just do it. Don’t worry about what others think you can do, know what you can do and go do it!

“My personal definition of wellness is being happy with who you are and where you are at.”
— Amanda WHAT IS A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE YOU WOULD SHARE WITH THE COMMUNITY?

There are tons of free workout videos on YouTube, but if you know you need help to stay committed to a goal, find someone who you resonate with and join in.

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

My favorite podcast right now is The Happy Hour with NextGen MilSpouse. The thing I like most about the podcast is that they cover current events that matter to military spouses. I love learning the details of what is new in Tricare or new laws that may affect the military community. I also love the variety of interviews they have. An honorable mention goes to The Dear MilFamily Podcast by Sheena Arting.

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

ABOUT amanda huffman

Amanda is a military veteran and military spouse. She served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer before transitioning from active duty to diaper duty. Her husband continues to serve in the Air Force. She is now a stay-at-home mom of two boys. Her family currently lives in Southern California and most weekends you can find them at Disneyland. This summer the military is moving them from West Coast (California) to East Coast (Virginia).

CONNECT WITH AManda

Facebook: Airman to Mom | Website: Airman to Mom | Instagram: @airmantomom | Email: airman2mom@gmail.com  | Twitter: @airman2mom |  

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PCS season in upon us, and once again many of us find ourselves in that in-between space between leaving one place and arriving in another.

You’ve said your goodbyes…perhaps multiple times. You’re sad to be leaving, but at the same time you feel so-freaking-ready for something new.

The hellos on the other side are pending. Perhaps you’ve connected with a few people at your future duty station, but for the most part, those relationships are fantasy, imaginative, uncommitted.

And there you are -- floating in the middle. You’re out there hanging between two homes. It’s an incredibly unique place of limbo and it can feel daunting and overwhelming. But, what if I told you there are actually some gifts in that space? What if you could harness the power of the space between leaving and arriving to connect more fully to what’s happening now?

Here are five ways to navigate the in-between space that will leave you feeling more prepared for whatever comes next.

1. Feel all the ways.

I like to call the emotions during this time – sweet sadness. It’s actually my favorite emotion during times of transition. It’s not uncommon to be confused or stressed by weird and complicated emotions. It doesn’t always feel good, but learning to be present with all the emotions that come up is essential to better understanding ourselves as we go from place to place. Just the simple act of taking a deep breath and naming our emotions (in your head is fine) can do wonders for our ability to move through our emotions instead of turning away from them. Research says when we do that, we’re better equipped to learn from our experiences.

2. Say “no” sometimes.

When you’re transitioning you’re bombarded with requests to connect. Saying goodbye when you leave and reestablishing relationships when you’ve been away is important to creating community that feels mobile no matter where you go. However, during transition it’s more important than ever to create boundaries around your time and space. Saying yes to every opportunity to grab a coffee, meet for dinner or get the kids together can leave you feeling overwhelmed in what is already a challenging emotional ride. Take time to think about the people you most want to see or connect with and then make plans that prioritize those relationships so that you don’t spread yourself too thin.

3. Know your people.

Most of us have at least one person we know we can talk to no matter what we’re going through. It’s that person who is honest (so she’ll call you on your crap) and gentle (so even with the crap, she loves you). Transition is not the time to go it alone. We’re not strong and resilient because we don’t reach out and ask for help, we’re strong and resilient because we do. We know what it takes to go from place to place and we therefore must choose to connect with people who’ll be there when we need them. Connecting during the uncertain, in-between times can be especially meaningful because allowing ourselves to be vulnerable builds stronger, deeper relationships.

4. Remember your non-negotiables.

What are the habits you most need to maintain balance during your normal routine? We all have at least a few things that we know help us feel more like ourselves – exercise, a phone call to a friend, plenty of sleep, a quiet cup of coffee in the morning. The same habits are even more important when you’re between homes. Make a plan for how to keep these habits in your schedule even when your schedule is a bit up in the air. Start to think of these things like food and water. Prioritizing self-care for even a few minutes each day can help you come out on the other side of a move feeling like yourself.

5. Practice being comfortable with not knowing.

I know what you’re thinking – “Ugh! I hate not knowing!” Me too. I get it. But, here’s the thing -- no matter how much we Google, control, and manipulate, a lot of unpredictability will still be there. We can’t predict every single outcome. Just like confronting our emotions head-on, we can deal with not knowing, by admitting it’s there and practicing becoming more comfortable in that space. Do this by noticing how you feel emotionally and physically with uncertainty. Pay attention to the things you do (Googling? Over planning?) when you’re worried about the uncertainty of what’s ahead. Examine whether those things help or hinder your sense of dread. When we learn to cultivate comfort with ambiguity, we’re much more open to seeing things as they are and thus more likely to make adjustments that fit our life as it is.

What other strategies would you add to this list? Find more ideas here.

During the month of May, InDependent is running a free fundraiser. All it requires is less than 2 minutes of your time to sigh up/sign in and leave a PCSgrades review of a housing neighborhood, moving company, apartment complex, etc. using our referral link here. Please help support InDependent and our programs by leaving one or more reviews!

Meet Jodi Harris

Jodi Harris is a mother of three, wife of a U.S. diplomat, certified coach (ACC), Personal Leadership facilitator, mindfulness teacher, and writer. She has over 15 years of experience working with individuals outside of their home cultures, and prior to moving overseas, she practiced as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is originally from Austin, Texas and has lived in Spain, Northern Ireland, Japan (twice), the Dominican Republic, and Madagascar. Through her coaching practice, World Tree Coaching, LLC, she works with diverse clients all over the world through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, and facilitation. She specializes in reminding the globally mobile community how capable and amazing they really are and supports people in finding a sense of home no matter where they go. 

Connect with Jodi

Website | Facebook | Instagram

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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 Lindsay's feature.
“I felt my healthiest physically after having our daughter. The transformation of growing her, birthing her, and then returning to my former shape made me see how miraculous my body is. I had to work extremely hard to shed the baby weight, but I did it patiently and with new vigor.”
— Lindsay Swoboda

Click on Image for Facebook Live Video

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

I boarded my first plane at age eighteen to see my now husband graduate from USMC boot camp! My spouse and I are high school sweethearts, but when he joined the Marines and I went off to college, we took a two year break from each other. I was not sure I was prepared to be a military spouse. I wanted to pursue my own dreams and did not think that I could do that in the military lifestyle. Boy was I wrong! However, we both feel thankful we had that time to grow up and experience life without each other, because after those two years we chose one another again- this time for good. We were married a year later and are coming up on our 10th wedding anniversary this December 2018.

Are you a health or wellness expert?

While I am not a wellness expert, my interest in health and wellness has re-shaped how I live. I was once a professional dancer, and unfortunately during that time I was never at my healthiest. I was riddled with insecurity and battled an eating disorder. I did not know how to exercise properly or nourish my body. After marrying my husband, he encouraged me to explore teaching dance and group fitness. In becoming a group fitness instructor, I started to understand how my body truly worked, and found freedom in taking care of it the right way. I am now more gentle and kind with myself, and encourage each mother and military spouse I meet along the way to be as well.

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

My lowest moment as a military spouse took me completely by surprise. We moved overseas to Africa in 2017 and in the first three months of our adjustment I struggled. This surprised me because I am not new to being overseas or in uncomfortable situations: my dance career had me living and traveling all over the world. As a family, we have been stationed in both Seoul, S. Korea and in Hawaii- which is indeed paradise but can be extremely isolating too. I thought that the move to Africa would be easy because of my past experiences, but the initial culture shock and living away from the military community took me to a dark place. I felt a lot of guilt and shame during that time because I was not handling it well. My husband and I function as our own unit- and I was the team member dropping my pack.

I ended up seeking a counselor that helped me work through my anxieties, and little by little found the way back to myself. It has been a chapter that forced me to get curious about resiliency, have patience with myself, and extend grace and kindness to others that find themselves in a challenging time.

Share with us a high moment during your wellness journey!

I felt my healthiest physically after having our daughter. The transformation of growing her, birthing her, and then returning to my former shape made me see how miraculous my body is. I had to work extremely hard to shed the baby weight, but I did it patiently and with new vigor. Her eyes continue to be on my every move- so teaching her the right way to take care of her body by exercising and making good choices with food (which definitely means indulging sometimes too!) is empowering.


I am currently at my healthiest mentally. After adjusting to Africa's mental-take-down, I am proud to be on the other side of this mountain. I now know that asking for help when I hit a mental road block is strength, not weakness. The signs that I am going down a disruptive path mentally are more prevalent and I am more vigilant and knowledgeable with my self-care.

How do you avoid burnout?

I do not try to avoid burnout anymore, but rather embrace the oncoming symptoms of burnout as a time to by hyper-aware. I’m working to walk with anxiety as a friend, and see it as a time to slow down. For me, this means asking for help, getting more sleep, and carving out space to do something I enjoy.

What is one personal habit that contributes to your success?

My secret weapon is words on paper. I journal consistently- and this does not mean sitting down every day and spilling my guts. Some days are just about writing down an uplifting quote or scripture. Other days I scribble away pages so that I can sort out the truth of my thoughts and find the light. Either way, a notepad is always somewhere nearby in my house- and putting pen to paper helps me process.

“Wellness is living a whole-hearted, nourished life which allows and encourages change and growth through different seasons.”
— Lindsay 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.

I am a huge fan of Corie Weathers LifeGiver Podcast. Corie has changed my life with her vulnerability and honesty. All of her episodes seek to shed truth and encouragement on this military life. She creates a safe place to listen and hash out tough topics- I have benefitted so much from LifeGiver and I always recommend it to fellow spouses!

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

The book I recommend is Rising Strong by Brene Brown. I have applied the techniques from this book over and over again in my life. As a military spouse I can relate to being knocked down in the arena of life- starting over and over again…and learning to get up, dust off- and keep going.

Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead By Brené Brown

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

ABOUT Lindsay Swoboda

Lindsay is a military spouse, mom, and writer. Her blog Uplifting Anchor encourages mothers and military spouses. As a former professional dancer, you can find her doing pirouettes in the kitchen and leaping after her daughter. Lindsay also believes in curating a creative lifestyle and digging to uncover the positive in tough chapters. She finds solace in hearing the sound of her sewing machine and a hot cup of coffee. She’s lived and traveled all over the world but believes there is always more to experience.  

CONNECT WITH Lindsay

Facebook: Uplifting Anchor | Website: Uplifting Anchor  | Instagram: @upliftinganchor | Pinterest: Uplifting Anchor |  

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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 Brittany’s feature.
“ I think prioritizing and setting your goals is hugely important. Every morning I wake up and set my top three priorities for the day, if nothing else gets done it needs to be those three things.”
— Brittany Davidson

Click on Image for Facebook Live Video

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

Before I met my green beret, I didn’t know anything about the military. I just hadn’t been directly exposed to it before. I even remember my mom trying to talk me out of going on a date with him because he was in the Army, which we still laugh about now! We’ve now been through a nerve wracking deployment, long distance, moving cross country, and several job position changes. Now those tan shirts and combat boots are just part of my everyday life.

What is a low moment when your health suffered the most?

The military life has actually been really good to me. I enjoy the transient lifestyle and am already excited for our next PCS (minus leaving our good friends behind of course.) I think the toughest part we’ve been through is when we PCSed to DC from Kansas. My whole immediate family is in Kansas and with a baby I wasn’t quite ready for the move and to not have my parents right down the street. We knew Jason would deploy almost immediately after relocating so we made the decision for my daughter and I to stay behind until he got back. That was hard having to say goodbye at an airport and know I wouldn’t get to hug him again before he deployed. We ended up doing long-distance for a little over a year (which was longer than planned) but we made the most of it and certainly wracked up those frequent flyer miles flying back and forth each month!

How did you overcome it?

I sent him themed care packages for every month so he knew we were thinking of him. He made the sweetest little video for our daughter to watch while he was deployed. She used to watch it and sign “more, more”! For the long distance aspect, it was really focusing on strong communication because it’s difficult when your significant other isn’t right there by your side. He’s going to be embarrassed for me sharing this, but we used to Skype and fall asleep together with it on every night. It really helped us feel connected and in tune with one another. I don’t think we would do long distance again, but it was definitely the right decision for our family at that time.

Share with us a high moment during your wellness journey!

I would say I’m at my absolute healthiest now. I have been working for myself full-time again for almost a year so I am getting my own sense of personal fulfillment while still supporting my family and having a flexible schedule for my daughter. Jason and I make a really good team and he tends to make sure I’m taking care of myself, which I didn’t always do or make time for. I really work at having a solid work-life balance every week now and actually make self care a priority which I think is so important and often gets overlooked by stressed out moms and wives!

How do you avoid burnout?

I do regular check-ins with myself and if something is overwhelming me I figure out where I can outsource, automate or reassess it all together. It really helps to make small adjustments as you go and progressively get better and more fine tuned, rather than letting things get to the point of no return and a possible burn out.

“My personal definition of wellness would be: Achieving the state of being Simply Happy.”
— Brittany What is one personal habit that contributes to your success?

I think prioritizing and setting your goals  is hugely important. Every morning I wake up and set my top three priorities for the day. If nothing else gets done it needs to at least be those three things. It gives me the focus I need, but it also allows me grace when maybe I’m not accomplishing the other things that didn’t make the list. I think it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with all the to-do’s. But if we just break it down and approach it in little steps it suddenly becomes a lot more manageable and a heck of a lot less stressful.

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

I use the app Clue. It tracks all your fun womanly things. It helps to know when I might need a little more self care or why I might be feeling a little extra sluggish. I have found it really keeps you in tune with your body and your needs as a woman.

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

I would recommend Goal Digger the podcast. I like to listen to it when I’m working out for uplifting discussion and inspiring business tips. I think it’s important to have your own personal and/or professional goals outside of supporting your military family to feel fulfilled.

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

ABOUT Brittany Davidson

Brittany has a three year old daughter, her special forces stud, a standard poodle named London and is an Army family! She is currently out of Washington DC and runs a clothing line, Chocolate Soup, out of our apartment. She started her second company, Simply Happy Life in November, which was her way of helping other women entrepreneurs and small business owners find their ‘simply happy’ through consulting and coaching. 

CONNECT WITH Brittany

Facebook: Brittany May | Website: Simply Happy Life | Instagram: @simplyhappybrittany | Twitter: @simplyhappybrit | Email: brittany@simplyhappylife.com

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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 Moni’s feature.
“Each season in life is different, the best thing to do is really love who you are, embrace where you are, and give yourself grace about where you want to be. ”
— Moni Jefferson

Click on Image for Facebook Live Video

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

Growing up as a military kid I feel like I have been living this amazing life forever! Although being a military kid and a military spouse are two way different things.  As a spouse I learned to navigate and make the best out of situations no matter what. I truly love this military life. The experiences, the people, and the places are priceless and irreplaceable. This life has made me resilient, empathetic, and open-hearted to those that are not like me.

What is a low moment when your health suffered the most?

When I realized that I had no individual self identity. My husband was deployed for a year and I suddenly found myself with a lot of alone time and unanswered questions about myself, my life, and my future. I realized this in the midst of an  adventurous journey of supporting my husband and watching his military career propel. My own journey had lacked the attention it needed to cultivate self identity, self worth and most importantly a career of my very own, which affected my well being.

How did you overcome it?

I realized that I had so much to offer, that I had endless options, and that I did not have to be confined to only being a military spouse. That although my life is more complex and unique than others I could do it all!  So, I began reading, researching and exploring ways in which I could get involved in the things that fueled me and that I was passionate about. This led me to create a career of my dreams while still supporting my family, and spouse. My official entrepreneur journey began in 2013, as a freelance writer. I then started a blog, Dog Tags And Heels, and that journey has now evolved into multiple business! I have never looked back. 

Share with us a high moment during your wellness journey!

I will say that right now in this very moment I am feeling extreme gratitude and fulfillment. Since my blog, I have created a virtual public relations and social media visibility agency ( Dog Tags + Heels LLC), I became an accidental app creator of two military life apps MilCam and MilEmoji, and founded a thriving community for military spouse entrepreneurs like me! I am emotionally, physically and spiritually more in tune with myself identity than ever before.

How do you avoid burnout?

To avoid burnout make sure to take time to exercise. I love spin! The bike always intimidates people, but spin is the best workout and without hurting any joints. I have a spin bike at home! Going to spin is like a big party, with the lights out, blaring music and that hill climb is the most empowering feeling ever!!

 
“I realized that I had so much to offer and that I had endless options. And that I did not have to be confined to only being a military spouse. That although my life is more complex and unique than others I could do it ALL! ”
— Moni What is one personal habit that contributes to your success?

Family Structure! I will say that my family and the structure we have created allow me to do all the things in a way that is not only guilt free but encouraging and supportive. Lots of things changed when I decided to work from home. So, to keep it all organized and communicate, we have a family meeting every week and sync everyone's phone calendar. Our family meetings encourage us to talk about any stressors of our week and up and coming events that the family will have to prepare in advance. Every member of our home has chores and daily responsibilities in the household. A regular bedtime routine is key so everyone gets rest and the hubby and I get quite time to reconnect. Every family member contributes to my success. I am truly blessed!

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

Right now I am relying on Simple Habit- Meditation because I have a hard time shutting off so this helps with reminders to meditate and get centered between being a mom, wife, friend, and entrepreneur.

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

Right now I’m a biz podcast addict! I am enjoying Wit + Wisdom. That podcast is a gem of a find and those ladies are smart and funny!

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

ABOUT Moni Jefferson

Moni is a public relations professional, accidental app creator, and proud military spouse. The owner of Dog Tags and Heels LLC, a virtual PR and Social Media Visibility Agency, the proud founder of The MilSpouse Creative, an online community for MilSpouse entrepreneurs and creator of the MilCam App + MilEmoji App, both the first and only military lifestyle apps. She is a proud Air Force spouse who is 20 years married to her best friend Roy & has 3 brilliant children that keep her on her toes! 

CONNECT WITH Moni

Facebook: Moni Jefferson PR | Website: Moni Jefferson PR | Instagram: @monijeffersonpr | Twitter: @MoniJeffersonPR

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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 Leslie’s feature.
“...I filled my days with working out, working on a local goat farm, and focusing on the growth of InDependent...I had a great routine, and I although my husband was gone, I was full. But then we moved to where we are right now and something happened. I am still trying to figure out what was the tipping point.”
— Leslie Brians

Click on Image for Facebook Live Video

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

During my time at A&M, I met and fell in love with an Army officer and we eventually married within months of my graduation. In the years since, the Army has taken us to New Orleans, Germany, Charlotte, NC, and now Southern Pines, NC, outside of Ft. Bragg. We live on an urban homestead in North Carolina in a historic home with our mixed breed dog Bear, and four chickens. 

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

When we first moved to Germany, we lived in Army lodging for a month because there was no housing available on post. Finally, we ended up in a home 45 minutes away down a long two lane road. We moved in and my husband deployed immediately after for a year. It was our first deployment together. I quickly realized that while our village was quaint, I was the only one who spoke English, it didn’t have a nearby train, and there wasn’t a market within walking distance. The road to post was a borderline deathtrap. With nothing to fill my days, I took up running for the rest of the summer and found a volunteer opportunity on base. Once winter arrived, my inner southern belle emerged and I lost motivation to go out in the bitter weather. The drive to post became even more dangerous, so I volunteered less. Couple the gloomy days with no human interaction and I found myself in a deep depression.

My second low moment is one I’m just now starting to come out of. When we moved to Charlotte from Germany in 2014, my husband deployed again so I filled my days with working out, working on a local goat farm, and focusing on the growth of InDependent. I absolutely loved it. I had a great routine, and I although my husband was gone, I was full. But then we moved to where we are right now and something happened. I am still trying to figure out what was the tipping point: when I injured my back working out, when I added too many projects to my plate, or when I started really sliding in my diet. I was gaining weight like crazy, and not in a “you’re getting stronger” sort of way, but in a “I feel constantly uncomfortable and can’t fit in any of my clothes” way. I actually broke down in tears at my last doctor’s appointment after having to stand on the scale, because it only confirmed what I knew was happening. After a number of tests and working with some health coaches, it turned out that I was suffering from Adrenal stress and borderline hypothyroidism. It feels like I had tried everything and my body was just crossing its arms saying “nope!” 

How did you overcome it?

Thankfully I was able to pull myself out of the depression in Germany by focusing on daily yoga routines. By the time my husband came home, I was doing yoga for upward of an hour a day.

Right now I am still trying to come out of my current low moment. I’m moving away from weight lifting type workouts and am back to doing more yoga and cardio (walking, running). I’m just being kind to myself. I also am trying to tighten up my diet. Food here in America is just so overly processed and full of preservatives and junk. It’s also so easy to access, and before you know it you’re only eating junk, especially when your stress-plate is overflowing. But when you’re in a stressful time, letting your body rest by feeding it clean, real, nutrient-dense food is a part of the bigger solution to overall wellness. So, I’m getting back to focusing on eating ethically raised proteins, lots of local fruits and veggies (some we grow ourselves!), and avoiding dairy, eggs, gluten, corn and soy. And yes, that even means giving up alcohol until I can get back to feeling like myself again.

Share with us a high moment during your wellness journey!

Probably the years 2012-14. I had a great job with an amazing group of people. I was the strongest and healthiest I’d ever been in my entire life. I felt great, I was eating exceptionally well, and living in Germany meant my husband and I were constantly travelling and exploring new places. I definitely miss the ease of travel overseas and would go back to living there in a heartbeat.

How do you avoid burnout?

As a creative and a business owner, burnout knocks at my door constantly. I make myself get up and walk away from my computer every few hours - I go outside and take a walk, check on the chickens, or throw the ball for the dog.

 
“Wellness is being comfortable where you are with what you have.”
— Leslie What is one personal habit that contributes to your success?

I don’t know if success is the right term, but I give myself a wellness budget. That way I never feel like my self-care is affecting our family’s finances. If I want to use that for yoga classes, or for a massage, then it’s okay and there is no guilt surrounding it. I also make it so those workout times are appointment that I cannot miss. If I have a yoga class at 4:30, then there’s no excuses, I’m at that class.

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

I may be biased, but InDependent, for obvious reasons!

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

Anyone who knows me know I’m not a reader, but I love these two books: Reading People by Anne Bogel & Eat the Yolks by Liz Wolfe.

Eat the Yolks By Liz Wolfe Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything By Anne Bogel

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

ABOUT Leslie Brians

Leslie was born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA. In 2009 she graduated with a Master’s Degree in Architecture from Texas A&M University. During her time at A&M, she met and fell in love with an Army officer and they eventually married within months of her graduation. She is the co-founder and Creative Director of InDependent, the Director of Design for Legacy Magazine and the owner of Leslie Brians Design. She also volunteers by coaching a local high school girls lacrosse team.

CONNECT WITH Leslie

Facebook: Leslie Brians Design | Website: Leslie Brians Design & InDependent | Instagram: @lesliebriansdesign | Email: Leslie@in-dependent.org

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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 Ashley's feature.
“I avoid burnout by unplugging...A full inbox and an outstanding to do list will not kill me. Taking time to rest and rejuvenate increases my creativity, productivity, and problem-solving ability.”
— Ashley Matejka Tell us a little about your journey as a military spouse. Where did it begin?

My journey as a military spouse began 7 moves - soon to be 8 - and a few months short of 13 years ago. As the military lifestyle goes, it has consisted of deployments and various unknowns. But more importantly, it has been full of amazing experiences and meeting the most wonderful people along the way!

Have you experienced any extreme highs/lows since becoming a military spouse? How did you overcome it?

For much of my life, I focused on perfection rather than progress. I found myself chasing the elusive feeling of having everything in life be “just right.” By focusing solely on the end result, I failed to recognize incremental milestones.

I over came it with an open mind and an open heart, I turned to deep self-reflection and critical engagement. I started reading a broad range of personal development books and taking a variety of wellness courses. By implementing small changes from the books and courses as well as prioritizing dimensions, my life became more aligned.

Am I healthy, strong, confident, aligned, and living my purpose? Hell yes! But the journey never ends and I know there are so many more highs to come!

What is one personal habit that contributes to your success?

Setting an intention for each of the 8 dimensions of wellness. An intention is a guiding principle for how you want to be, live, and show up in life. Realizing that I am a whole person with 8 dimensions that are intricately connected, and setting an intention for each, changed my life. I no longer feel the need to stress over outcomes. Everything I do is guided by my intentions.

How do you avoid burnout?

I avoid burnout by unplugging. Unplugging from work, my laptop, social media, and even responsibilities at home. A full inbox and an outstanding to do list will not kill me. Taking time to rest and rejuvenate increases my creativity, productivity, and problem-solving ability.

If you could share a health and wellness resource with the military community, what would it be and why?

Yoga nidra or "yogic sleep". It is a state of being between sleep and consciousness. Yoga nidra is a powerful tool for deep emotional and physical healing. My family has found yoga nidra especially helpful for managing the stress of military life.

If you could recommend one book and/or podcast to military spouses, what would it be and why?

Authentic Happiness by Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D.! This book will change how you think about happiness. It includes questionnaires and practical guidance. Dr. Seligman has since released a new model, PERMA, but this book is still a must read.

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment By Martin E. P. Seligman

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

ABOUT Ashley Matejka

From the start of Ashley’s professional career, she has held a variety of positions. From event planning to background investigations for national security and public trust positions. What Ashley learned over the years is that her passion lies within holistic wellness and social impact. Now, she is the Founder of Wellevance and the Program Director at Milspo Project. Wellevance encourages a holistic approach to wellness through experiences, products, and community. For fun, Ashley enjoys all modalities of exercise, spending time with family, trying new foods, traveling, reading, and learning.

CONNECT WITH Ashley

FacebookWebsite | Instagram |

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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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