Bloom Where You’re Planted…With Little Commitment!


During my 10+ year journey as a military spouse, I have tried to keep the old adage, “bloom where you’re planted,” as my personal motto. And believe me, I have been planted in some places I never thought I would be. As a girl from the Pacific Northwest, it can be pretty crazy to try to set down roots in Central Texas, Southern Oklahoma, or most recently, Western Louisiana.

What has been the most surprising is how trying to bloom where we’re planted has provided experiences and opportunities I never would have dreamed about. I have learned the only way to really flourish in a place that is foreign to me is to put myself out there and get to know the area AND the people who are there with us.

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My journey as a military spouse truly began when I joined my husband in Ft. Hood when he redeployed from Iraq. We had been married for over a year and a half, but it was the first time we were going to be able to start our life together.

However, I had no experience with the military lifestyle, so I did what I knew how to do: I got a job and established a routine with my husband. I wasn’t involved with an FRG, any unit functions, or anything having to do with the Army at all. I was very isolated from the people and things that were part of my husband’s career.

After another deployment to Iraq, we found ourselves in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I left my job to move, we had a baby on the way, and I had NO IDEA what to do. I realized if we were really going to do this ‘military thing’ for the rest of our lives, I better learn more about it. I started taking classes at Army Community Services (ACS), and when the classes were over, I realized I liked the ladies who worked there so much, I started to volunteer. I joined the Spouses’ Club, because some of the spouses I met volunteering at ACS were members, too. I started attending fitness classes on Post, and once my son was born, I went to every playgroup I could find.

A lot of the same people were popping up in many of the groups I was involved with; people who were going through the same thing I was–trying to build a life on this crazy military journey. And sometimes we don’t have the time or opportunity to work outside the home, but we still crave the personal connection with other adults. During our almost four years at Fort Sill, I met some of the most wonderful people I have ever known and truly created life-long friendships.

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We left Fort Sill for Washington D.C., where my husband spent almost 4 years between Capitol Hill and the Pentagon. We were not in a traditional unit and did not live on any of the Posts in the area. We found ourselves very separated from military life…again. After welcoming our daughter, it was time to find some connection with our military life. I decided to go to work at a non-profit supporting military families. That job gave me the personal relationships and friendships I had been missing. And luckily, I was able to work with a few other military wives who gave me the connection to military life I had been missing.

The time came for us to move on to new orders. We left Washington D.C., and I left my job and friends to move to Fort Polk, Louisiana; a new place, with new people. I will need to really push myself, put myself out there to meet some other moms, spouses, and friends to connect with. I am going to use what I learned during our time at Fort Sill to try to find the people who I mesh with.

I have met a few ladies from our unit and talk to the other moms at our daughter’s gymnastics class. I plan on joining the Spouses’ Club, too. With my husband preparing to join a unit already in Afghanistan, I know my ability to get involved with a lot of things will have to wait, but I am going to grab the little moments in daily life to try to bloom where I have been planted.

How do you get involved with military life without much commitment? Share it with us in the comments!

mandy-culverPosted by Mandy Culver, Army Spouse and National Military Family Association Volunteer

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  1. 1
    Mary

    Fort Polk was our last duty station. I’m thankful it wasn’t our first I needed every ounce of strength I gained from 20 years to “bloom” there. We survived, no regrets, but it wasn’t easy. My kids keep me looking for the good. (Few tips, visit Natitoches, and hodges gardens! Walk around the golf course when the sun is setting too) good luck!

  2. 2
    Judith Guthrie Muller

    I so hope we could make EVERYONE read what you so well wrote. I was an Army brat and an Army wife of a career pilot. Civilians have NO idea what it’s like to be a military wife. It’s like trying to explain what it’s like to have a baby. Until you have experienced it, you don’t understand it. I lived in many states and countries. I never thought of it as “Bloom where you are planted”, but I always liked every place we lived, (some more than others truthfully). I lived in Viet Nam for two years and loved it the most, believe it or not. This was beautifully written and I applaud you for your insight. I now live in NC where my husband retired and now has a Civil Service job at the same air field he used to fly from, and he loves it. We’ve been very lucky, as far as I’m concerned. My dad retired after almost 30 years. I learned a lot from my mom, without realizing I was learning it at the time.

  3. 3
    Joan Vasey

    Joan Vasey
    With a totally civilian background, no relatives in the military and in spite of not living near a military installation, I decided to join the Army after college. Upon disembarking from the aircraft and meeting the bus to take me to basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama, the drill sergeant who met me taught me that military life was 180 degrees different from civilian life. I went from having a private room at home to sleeping in an open bay with about 40 other women, exchanging civilian clothes for a military uniform, pulling CQ (charge of quarters) the first night (since at the time my name was at the beginning of the alphabet), marching to the mess hall, eating on the fly, doing PT, going on road marches and starching all clothing and shining brass and footwear. I also learned to fire a weapon and do land navigation. Once the initial shock ended, I found I really liked the lifestyle.
    At my first permanent duty station, I met and married my military husband. In spite of shedding many tears when learning of undesirable assignments or lengthy separations, I was quick to find something pleasurable and interesting at each duty station.
    “Bloom Where You are Planted” is an interesting way to sum each experience up. That’s what to do. Surround yourself with positive people. Whether living in an open bay, barracks room, stairwell apartment or house, make the best of things. Be friendly. Get to know your neighbors and lend a hand; there’s always someone who is worse off and who will help put your thoughts in perspective.
    Get a pet if you can. Take walks, If you are lucky enough to have a yard or community garden, get out and get involved. No matter where you live, explore the culture. Eat the same food the locals eat. Shop where they shop. Become familiar with the area. Take in the sights. You don’t have to make a great commitment and perhaps your family and work situation won’t let you. Just be open minded and willing to try new things. Let life unfold.
    I would not trade my time in the military or the unique nature of being a military spouse (for 36 years now) for anything. Along the way, you’ll have unique experiences to share. You’ll meet people from all over and will likely become a more open-minded person. The tough times will temper you. And, you’ll always share a bond with others living the unique military lifestyle.

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