Do you agree that sometimes the best advice comes from the strangest places? That when you least expect it pearls of wisdom are revealed and the light bulb goes off?
For me, it was a confirmation of things that I’ve learned over time and know to be true. It came about when I sat down to watch the movie People Like Us with Chris Pine (Sam) and Elizabeth Banks. The scene where Sam is telling his nephew Josh about the six rules to live by (that his dad had thought him), well it gave me pause. In essence, it was about two people making a connection -- about a man telling a boy how to live without a father. But if you’ve seen it you know it went beyond that. It was about living life fully.
That got me to thinking about life as a MilSos and the challenges we face daily -- from PCSing frequently to raising kids alone to facing life without out our soldier every time he or she deploys. Still, we are resilient and strong and proud. We are the driving force behind America’s brave service members. Hence, I’m always looking for inspiration and insight into the meaning of it all. How can I make this military life better? Why am I here? What’s my mission?
Except for one rule, here’s what I took away from this movie.
5 Rules for military spouses to Live by1. “If you like something because you think other people are going to like it, it’s a sure bet that no one will.”
It took me a long time to figure this out growing up—that seeking the acceptance and approval of others and following trends or striving to please the masses—isn’t what life is about. It’s about remaining true to yourself and being original. It’s not about what other spouses have or do or what they look like, it about you and your family and what’s best for you.
If you’re the MilSo who doesn’t have (or want) kids and doesn’t fit in, that’s okay. Your path is different. Only you can create and change and have the impact that you were meant to have. I’ve interviewed successful people over the years, and the happiest ones always said they got there by remaining their true and unique self. Sometimes the ones who are different or strange have the most gifts to share and makes the most difference.
2. Most doors in the world are closed, so if you find one you want to get into—damn well better have an interesting knock.”
If you’re stuck at a duty station where you just can’t find a job, think outside the box. Find a creative way to use the skills and talents you have and follow your dream. If you don’t have one, get one. Then do what you love first, and everything else will follow. And, when you least expect it, you’ll knock and others will listen and enjoy the sound so much they’ll be curious and open the door. The most interesting people know who they are and are genuine to it.
3. “Everything you think is important isn’t, everything you think isn’t important is.”
It’s not about the crappy town I that live in, or that there’s really nothing to do here, or that I don’t have any friends, or that my heart breaks every time I think of my baby girl who stayed behind. It’s about supporting my soldier who didn’t choose to come here. It’s about raising a resilient kid who can stand up on her own now. It’s about the date night I have with my spouse—at home watching a movie and cooking dinner. It the fact that my best friend since age 14 turned out to be my soul mate after all. It’s the fact that he gets to comes home to me every night. The simple things are what matters most. I vow not to take them for granted anymore.
4. “Don’t ---t where you eat.”
It’s simple—don’t do something that jeopardizes something or someone you care about. If you don’t want drama don’t create the circumstances for it. If there are problems in the unit that spreads like wildfire and follows your soldier home, or there’s in-fighting and gossip in the FRG, don’t make it worse by adding to it. Stay above the fray … at least that’s what I did. It didn’t make me any friends but I’m okay with that because at least it didn’t consume me.
5. “Lean into it ... ‘it’ means that the outcome doesn’t matter, what matters is that you’re there for it—whatever it is—good or bad.”
We can’t control the outcome of everything (even though I’ve personally tried). I’ve learnt now to be fully present with every experience and do my best. It’s funny no matter how much I stress, things have a way of working out. Sometimes what maybe a bad situation turns out okay or it’s a teachable moment. Either way, the lesson is to live life fully in the moment, no matter what. That means if my spouse truly ends up getting deployed again soon and I’m left in this new duty station (that I’m not particularly fond of), I will survive and find my way (and remember rule #3).