As a Coast Guard spouse, you anxiously wait for orders like you are in a military version of Jerry McGuire-- Show me Key West!
Then the news rolls in. It isn’t Key West. “Honey, we’re moving to Homer, Alaska!” Or “Here we come Sallisaw, Oklahoma!”
You are moving to one of the most remote locations the Coast Guard has to offer. Or you are being assigned to a location where there aren’t any military resources for miles.
So after you put down your pom-poms and megaphone from pretending to be pumped about your next adventure to Hickman, Kentucky, you sit and wonder how the heck you will survive the next two to three years living in the “wilderness” (which your husband/wife claims is an amazing career opportunity).
You can, in fact, do this. Here is some ridiculously simple advice I’ve learned from other Coast Guard wives that will help you connect in even the most remote location.
1. Find connections before you move. Make a list of what makes you happy. Do you like being outdoors? Crafting? Traveling?
Once you have your list of things that make you happy, find people who can help you find those activities in your new community. Tap into spouses who currently live in that area or have recently moved. They are your free brain bank – use them!
You can easily find them on social media…all it takes is a little detective work.. Search groups on Facebook that pertain to your interests. Then ask specific questions targeted toward your upcoming location.
For example, join the Facebook “Coast Guard Wives” group. Once you’re part of the group, ask questions about the move location and get tips on how to get connected in that remote location.
Remember to use your resources, such as your alma maters , sorority/fraternity organizations, international moms groups and international volunteer organizations .
2. Get connected when you arrive. You’ve thought about what makes you happy. You’ve stalked people and found ones who can get you connected. Now you have to find people who will help you get and feel connected once you arrive.
The Internet will become your best friend. So often we sit there and think, no one else likes to coupon. Or no one else has kids that drive them nuts and needs two play dates a week.
Oh, ladies and gentlemen, we have so many people within our tiny communities that are in the same phase of life – you just have to have some spontaneity and initiate the connection.
Often we make finding connections a lot harder than it really is. We all eat…therefore we grocery shop…approach women with kiddos around the age of yours and start a conversation. (Note: Don’t do the desperate plea for friends…you will quickly be known as the outsider from “Crazy Town.”)
Just start to focus on your day-to-day tasks and see who is out and about; they will be your connections that help you feel at home. Best places I’ve found connections: grocery store, gas station, library, school/community college, playgrounds, and restaurants. Remember to play it cool. Lead into conversations like, “I noticed you’re wearing a Michigan sweatshirt…are you from the Midwest?” “How old is your little boy? Mine is 7…they look to be about the same age.”
The basic rule is: people love to talk about themselves, so find a way to get them to talk and share information that will get you connected to your new community.
3. Stay connected after you leave. Once you have prepared for and completed your move, remember to give back – try as best as you can to “pay it forward.” Always remember how much others helped you when you needed it, and be ready to welcome others who are about to enter into your once “unknown.”
As a Coastie wife, I quickly learned our military presence is small in comparison to other branches. That means our resource pool within our military branch is smaller, but if you reach out to what’s available, you’ll start to learn it’s tons of fun being small and mighty!
Other branches tend to quickly embrace us, and Lord knows, we’ve all heard civilian rescue stories about how everyone loves the Coast Guard. Trust me, you will survive living remotely. Get connected and continue to embrace the season of the Coast Guard ride as you live it. Besides, it will change in just a few short years.
Jessica Bertsch is a proud Coastie wife and mom of a 2 year old. In her “spare” time she runs Powerhouse Planning, LLC www.powerhouseplanning.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.