I went to the ocean with my family the other day. We have been there many times over the past few months since we now live in Hawaii (please don't hate me :) This visit to the ocean was a bit different than the past few... I got my hiney kicked all over the place by the waves and my whole body is sore (I will not be discussing the fact that I am very much out of shape... that's for another time :)
As we were driving home I started to compare my experience in the ocean with my experience as a military spouse.
I used to say that life was a series of speed bumps and roller coasters, but the ocean has changed that for me. Here's my take on my "ocean experience" the other day:
Imagine the ocean water as "military life." You stand there watching the water and sometimes it looks beautiful, calm, serene, breathtaking, etc.
The next thing you know, your legs are swept right out from under you.
You lose complete control of your body and literally flip with the waves. When you finally break the surface and touch your feet to the sand... anything can happen.
1. You can be swept up again and go for another "ride."
2. You can stand up and regain your composure.
3. You can stand up and cry.
4. You can stand up and laugh.
5. You can "escape" the water as soon as possible and then decide what to do (laugh, cry, leave, face the waves again, etc.).
Most of the time I laugh at myself (in the ocean, that is) because it seems like the best way for me to deal with the fact that I had absolutely NO control over what just happened (other than staying out of the water completely). I did choose to get out of the water twice - I needed a chance to regain my composure and decide what to do next. I eventually went back in...
As military families, we definitely face a lot of waves in our lives. Sometimes we see them coming and have time to react, but often they just creep up on us and BAM!... we get tossed around. And not all of the waves are "bad" - some are very exciting: spouse returning from deployment or TDY, having a baby, family coming to visit, the holidays, PCSing (for some people), etc. But even the "good" waves can be challenging at times.
We have a choice in how we respond to these waves, whether we see them coming or not. We know we are not always in control, especially in the military, but that doesn't mean we don't have the ability to choose how we live this life. I know I don't always make the right choices, but I do the best I can along the way.
So the next time you are "hit by a wave" (good or bad), make a conscious effort to respond in a way that meets your needs. Sometimes a good cry is very helpful, sometimes a laugh, sometimes taking a step back and then deciding... whatever works best for you.
And on a side note, make sure your swim suit is "in place" before you stand up :) :) :) Yeah... had to laugh at that one, too!