Don’t believe the “Voices”

I used to love the t.v. show “The Voice.”  (I probably would still like it, I just don’t ever have time to watch t.v. these days)  I loved the idea that average people could come on this show, sing in front of some of today’s most successful musicians, and get the opportunity to follow their dreams.  The judges could not see the contestants (they sat it chairs with their backs to the singers)…they had to judge them on their voices alone.  The best part of the show was when the judges turned around and saw the contestants.

The person standing before them often looked NOTHING like what they expected.  It might be a heavyset “plain Jane” belting out an amazing version of a Celine Dion song or a young African-American man whose voice was eerliy similar to George Strait’s (I’m not saying that these were actual contestants…these are just examples of the kinds of surprises the judges would face.)

Now there is a different “voice” that is not nearly so entertaining.  I struggle with all kinds of “inner voices.”  (Before you lock me up in a psychiatric ward, please understand that I am not talking about “voices” that are telling me to do harmful or scary things.)

Now that we have that cleared up, let me tell you about the voices.

They are the inner whisperings in my head that tell me that I am not doing things well enough.  They try to convince me that my work is unimportant, insignificant, or somehow menial, especially when compared to my husband’s fast-paced career of service to our nation.  They tell me that I am helpless…that I cannot ever hope to support myself should something happen to my husband.  They tell me that I am a fraud…that my husband is the talented one in the family and that I am just “riding his coattails.”  They try to tell me that I should do a better job at taking care of my things, that I should invite people over more often, that I should get involved in more service projects, that I should spend more time playing with my children.  And there may be some truth to “some” (but not all) of the things they say.

I have learned that “voices” are not there to help.  They have no intention of trying to open my eyes to areas that need improvement and inspire me to do better.  Their only mission is to tear me down and try to tear down my family at the same time.

The thing is, when I speak these things out loud or write them down, they sound just plain silly.  OK, sure, I probably need to take better care of my belongings, but even if I never improve in this area, I can still say that I have had a successful, happy life.

As for riding my husband’s coattails, I never really realized that this was bothering me so much until I typed it just now.  It kind of came out of nowhere.  (Well, not “nowhere”…someone close to me once told me something to this effect, and apparently it has been “festering”.)

Once we identify our voices, what do we do?  Now I completely believe in the power of visualization.  So I have decided to start using the image of the Voice judges’ red chairs when my “inner voices” start to belt out their tunes.  Maybe this will work for you, too.

When they first start “singing,” you can hear them.  You might even be tempted to believe them.  But then, as you visualize yourself turning around in your judges’ chair, you will “face” them (in other words, you will write them down and read them.)  At that point, you will be able to get the “whole picture.”  You will be able to see if this is really something that you need to address or if it is just a “clanging gong” that is trying to distract you from the important stuff of life.

Another solution for dealing with the “voices” came to me through my new favorite author/blogger, Jon Acuff.  He has a website where you can go and type in whatever message your “voices” are trying to tell you.  http://www.nomorevoices.com/  It is completely anonymous.  Other people can read it and click on a “me too” button if they share that voice.  I am not sure if it is helpful or not.  It is nice to see that other people share my concerns, but as I read other peoples’ “voices” it is easy to get “bogged down” in the negativity.  However, the point is to focus on the community aspect…the fact that you are not alone in your feelings and to actually get the voices out of your head and “on to paper” so-to-speak.

Struggling with motherhood? Me too.

Fellow moms: for some reason, I struggle with my role as a mom from time to time.  I love being a mom, but often do not feel up to the challenge.  It often amazes me that my children are turning out to be such amazing people, because I know that I am rarely bringing my  “A Game”.

I’m tired.  I’m sleep-deprived.  I try to stay up to chat with the teenagers and get up early enough to have some alone time before the toddlers are up (which is usually between 5:30 and 6am).

I don’t have the biggest support system.  Oh sure, I have wonderful friends and family, but we live States away from each other, and correspond mostly on Facebook.  My immediate surroundings are about to change for the second time in a year (as we move from Pennsylvania to D.C.), so I feel pretty lonely these days.

And in this society, where motherhood seems to be “graded” by how many hours you volunteer at the kids’ school, the creativeness with which you pack their lunches (as if good ol’ PB&J is the sign of a slacker mom), and the cuteness of your mommy blog, I often feel like an absolute failure.

Now, I normally don’t try to write “Debbie Downer” posts.  And I apologize that this has been one.  But I did promise myself one thing when I started this blog.  I would tell the truth.  Pretending to be something I am not is of little benefit to anyone…least of all to me.

If nothing else, I hope that those of you who are struggling with your own motherhood roles can find some comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

Now, with all that being said, I would like to link you up with a wonderful website that I have found to be a great resource.  I have only just discovered it, but I am thoroughly enjoying it.  Please take a minute to look at it and then come back here and tell me what you think.  The name of the site is http://powerofmoms.com/.  I think you will find it to be a great source of help and hope.

Advice for Moms – Power of Moms

And the following article really spoke to me today.

http://powerofmoms.com/2012/06/six-reasons-to-never-give-up-on-motherhood/

Writer’s Block

I don’t know how many of you are writers.  But for those of you who are, I need to commiserate for a moment.

Don’t you hate it when, you have worked to find the perfect time to sit down, undisturbed, with a hot cup of coffee or tea, and write in solitude…only to realize that you basically have nothing to say at that moment?

Ugh!  That’s what happened to me this morning.  The whole family is asleep.  I have probably a good half an hour to myself (which, is an eternity when you have 6 children!)  And I have nothing to say!

So, this got me to thinking:  I need to be prepared for times like this.  I need to have a list of topics and/or ideas to share.  Like anything else in life, I need to “be prepared.” (Hey, you can’t really blame me…I was never a Boy Scout, and I never had any brothers, so there were no Boy Scouts in our family.  The only scouting I grew up with involved Thin Mints and having a “smile in my pocket”.)

Anyway, I am off to start “brainstorming” for my next post.  I promise, it will be far more riveting than this one was 🙂

Have a fabulous day!

Quitter

I am reading a very interesting book.

Quitter. by Jon Acuff

Now my husband likes to tease me because I have the tendency to “weave” any book that I am currently reading into whatever conversation we are having.  For example:

Him: “Hey Sweetie, next time you go to the commissary, could you pick up some razors for me?”

Me:  “You know, that reminds me…I am reading a book about time management.  According to Dr. So-and-So, I need to free up more time for the things that are important to me by having you and the kids take more ownership in the areas of your lives that you ask me to handle.  Therefore, I have posted the commissary list on the refrigerator.  If you need something, it is up to you to write it on the list.  When you simply mention things to me in passing, you abdicate responsibility for the task and it somehow becomes my responsibility.  This makes me feel undervalued, because I am running around trying to meet all of your needs, the kids’ needs, and my own needs.  I simply can’t do it all, and I really need you to step up and take responsibility.”

I think he was expecting me to say, “Oh sure, no problem.”

So, every time I start a sentence with “Hey honey, I am reading a great book…” hubby gets that glazed-over, deer-in-headlights look, and I know that he has retreated into his mental man-cave until the danger of amateur spousal psychoanalysis has passed.

However, I really am enjoying this book, so rather than torture my husband with my thoughts on it, I decided to discuss it here.

No one wants to be a “quitter.”  In American society, it is considered an act of cowardice or failure to “quit” something.  We are brought up to believe that “winners never quit, and quitters never win.”  What a load of crap!

Now, it is true that we cannot expect to hop around from thing to thing, or idea to idea, constantly giving up when obstacles present themselves.

But, when it is obvious that something is not a “fit” for you, are you expected to stay with it, indefinitely?  Of course not.

And this is the main crux of this book.  We all have dreams, passions, interests, and goals that we would like to pursue.  And somehow, our society has romanticized those people who give up everything to follow said dreams, etc.  But that is not the way it should be.

There has to be a bridge between living your life as it is right now, and living the life you desire to live in the land of “someday.”

The best way to do this is not to hate your current situation and daydream about a better life (although yours truly is quite guilty of this from time to time).  Rather, you should embrace your current state and begin to perform with excellence, looking for opportunities to incorporate the skills necessary to accomplish your long-term goals.

Become intentional about how you perform in life.  Don’t see your current job or situation as an obstacle.  Rather, use it as a stepping stone or a building block to where you want to go.

Even if your current job has nothing to do with your passion, you can figure out ways to become “excellent.”

Now I am only about a third of the way through this book, but I gather that part of Acuff’s message is that excellence is a habit.  It must be cultivated and developed intentionally.  It does not happen by accident.

Let me repeat that:

Excellence does not happen by accident.

You can’t go through your daily life being lazy, sloppy, and uncommitted and expect to turn into a creative, energetic ball of excellence on the weekend when you are working on your passion.  No…you must make excellence a habit.  Not perfection…excellence.

OK, so in order to be an excellent mother, I need to get up out of this chair and get my day started, otherwise I will be sending my kids off to school in questionable clothing choices and lunches consisting primarily of chemicals I cannot spell not pronounce.  (Which does not really jive with the whole “Healthy Mom” part of this blog’s title.)

Have an excellent day, and don’t quit your day job! (just yet)

 

Senior Spouses (Part 1)

This week I have had the great fortune to attend a seminar for “Senior Spouses” here at the United States Army War College.  It has been a great few days of networking, relationship-building, learning, and reflecting.

Now, if you are not familiar with the military, you are probably thinking “What the heck is a ‘Senior Spouse’?”

Basically, a Senior Spouse is a military spouse whose Soldier has been in the military for many years and has attained a certain level of rank and/or responsibility.  The military understands that, in most cases, the Spouse has had to make many sacrifices to support his or her Soldier’s career over the years.  And many times the success of the Soldier has been, in no small part, due to the Spouse’s ability to keep “the home fires burning” and maintain an incredible sense of flexibility.  The Spouse has, undoubtedly, learned many skills and techniques for dealing with military life and she (or he) often has a wealth of knowledge about military life to share with younger Spouses.

While it is true that we military Spouses do not “wear” our Soldiers’ ranks (although some make an attempt to do so), we are “aware” of our Soldiers’ ranks and how that causes the rest of the world (especially within the military community) to see us.  Whether we like it or not, by virtue of being “Colonel So-and-So’s wife” or “Command Sergeant Major So-and-So’s husband,” we are ambassadors for the military.  Whether or not we want to have anything to do with our Soldiers’ careers, the rest of the world still sees us as representatives of the military.

Now, just because we are military spouses, it does not mean that we cannot (or should not) have lives and/or careers of our own.  There used to be a joke that “If the Army wanted you to have a wife, it would have issued one to you.”  In some circles, this attitude still prevails to an extent, but it is rapidly dying out.

The military has come to understand that, as an all-volunteer force, if they want to retain talent, they have to make sure that the families have a certain quality of life.  Spouses need and want to have opportunities to pursue their careers, passions, interests, etc.  The idea that the Spouse should just put her (or his) career on hold is no longer acceptable or realistic.  Finding the balance between supporting the military member’s career and having the Spouse sustain and grow a career of her (or his) own can be quite a challenge (especially in the midst of moving every few years, sometimes to foreign countries.)

The military is making an effort to ease such transitions.  And in the past few years, they have made an attempt to improve the amenities available to military families…more youth activities, tuition assistance programs, better housing, career counseling for Spouses, etc.

But, here’s the kicker:

We are in a time of budget cuts.  As a whole, the military is being required to find areas where it can “cut fat” and reduce spending.  And let’s face it…family programs are not immune to these cuts.  Nor should they be.

The mission of the Army, as one example, is essentially “to fight and win our Nation’s wars.”

The mission is not to make sure that military Spouses all achieve “self-actualization”  or to make sure that free child care is provided for every meeting that a spouse may want to attend.  While these things are nice, when it comes down to it, they are “extras.”  Important extras, but extras nonetheless.  And I give them kudos for having made an attempt to provide many of these things while we have been at war over the past decade.

So we, as Senior Spouses, need to help the younger spouses to manage expectations and empower them to find solutions to their dilemmas rather than simply ask the military to provide everything.  This is a time when we need to come together, get creative, and lift each other up.

While the military has tried to create programs to address many different needs, one of its greatest resources has always been (and I hope continues to be) the families and the way they help each other spontaneously…looking to each other rather than expecting the military to supply the answers and resources to meet our every need.

I am curious…if you have experience with military programs, which ones do you think are important to keep, and which ones do you think would be able to be cut from the budget?

I will address these issues more in the future, but for now (like a good military Spouse)I need to go play “reveille” for my kids in order to get them up and going for the day!

 

 

 

 

Pinterest…Facebook…Twitter, Oh My

Who doesn’t love social media?

I know, I know…not EVERYONE loves social media.  Older generations got along just fine without it.

But younger generations cannot imagine a world devoid of tweets or posts.  (Although, if you ask my teenagers, Facebook and  Twitter are becoming almost passe.  They spend more time on Snapchat and Instagram.)

I find myself in that “grey area”.  My peers grew up without social media or the internet.  Heck, we didn’t even have text messaging.  If we wanted to talk to someone outside of school hours, we actually had to pick up the house phone (no one had cell phones…never mind smart phones) and dial the person’s phone number.   We risked having his or her parents answer the phone, and, using the best manners we could muster, we had to ask if we could please speak to our friend.  I don’t know that I have ever had one of my kids’ friends call and ask to talk to one of my kids.

I digress.

Anyway, as I said, I am in that grey area between the generations of social media and no social media.  I can clearly see the differences in the way people interact and how social media has changed our abilities to engage with other humans.  I even notice that when I spend too much time on social media, I find myself feeling a bit depressed and disengaged with my family.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love me some Facebook and Pinterest!  And, while I am not a huge Twitter fan, I check it probably once a day just to skim the headlines.

But I think we have to be careful.  Most of us complain about not having enough time to complete the tasks that we need to complete.  We say there are not enough hours in the day.  We are sleep deprived.  Our homes are a mess.  And the quality of our work (if we are truly honest) is nothing close to what it should be.

And yet, somehow, we find time to read and re-post Facebook posts that promote our favored political or social agendas.  We find time to re-tweet funny sayings or memes.  We find time to re-Pin that amazing peanut-butter-fudge recipe or handprint craft project that our kids would love (but never find time to actually make it with them).

Even though each of these things only takes a few seconds, these seconds quickly add up to minutes and hours.  I cannot imagine that, on my deathbed, I will say “Gee, I wish I had tweeted more.” or “I really regret not having had a bigger Pin Board.”

Social media has its place in our lives.  I believe it is here to stay.  It can play a positive role in our modern world.  It is vital in today’s business community and is great for small business.  It helps us to maintain connections that would otherwise be very difficult to maintain (especially for those of us with transient lifestyles).

But like any tool, we have to be careful that we use it correctly so we don’t end up “hurt”.  We have to make sure that it does not dominate our lives and move into the realm of addiction.

I am curious, how do you manage your social media time?  Do you find it to be a help, or a time-waster?

 

 

My Not-So-Cute Blog

I have not written anything for several days.  It seems that as soon as I get an idea for a blog post, a child wakes up, another child needs help with homework, another child needs me to drive them to practice, or some household task needs immediate attention.

DSC_0092

I am seeing a trend here.

For a while I have been feeling quite frustrated, even a bit resentful, about this situation.  I see all these mommy bloggers and food bloggers who have amazingly cute blogs, and I have to confess to a bit of jealousy.  I would love to have an attractive layout with fun cartoon-y images, beautiful photography, tabs, menus, etc.

I love visiting these types of blogs.

(Here are a few of my favorites http://www.browneyedbaker.com/,  http://bakeat350.blogspot.com/,  http://thefoodiearmywife.com/,   http://pinkheelspinktruck.com/,  http://www.thehappiesthome.com/,  just to name a few.)

So, you can imagine how discouraged I feel when I can’t seem to find the time to learn all that I would like to know about designing my blog and making it look the way I want.  When I do find time to sit down and work (usually at 5 or 6am on a Saturday morning…eek!) I struggle to decide whether I should be writing or tinkering with the layout.

Searching for tips and ideas, I often get stuck daydreaming in the land of Pinterest and wasting what precious little time I have.

I suppose that I should actually be writing.  I could have the most perfect layout in the “blogosphere,” but without decent content, who the heck will want to stop by, right?

So, for now, I hope you will forgive me for my “not-so-cute” blog and you will still stop by to see what’s going on over here at “Happy Mom, Healthy Mom.”

With that said, if you are a current blogger I would welcome any tips, tricks, links, and/or other bits of advice you have to offer.  Be sure to link to your own blog in the comments!  Thanks for stopping by!

Now, it is 7am, and I have to quit blogging and run one of my kids to track practice!