Does Debbie Doubter Ruin Your New Year’s Resolutions? Change Your Perspective…Here’s How.

Previously, we discussed how making decisions from the shallow end of our mind can actually prevent us from succeeding at our New Year’s resolutions.

Let’s look at another common struggle with meeting our personal goals for 2017.

Struggle #2:  Believing our inner doubter

Most of us have heard of “Debbie Downer,” the popular Saturday Night Live character whose specialty is to shower any situation with negative gloom. I would like to take a moment to introduce you to “Debbie Doubter.” Inside each of us is a part that operates from a place of fear, causing us to overreact to most circumstances with apprehension–especially those circumstances that have a high probability of igniting powerful change in our life.

The difficulty with Debbie Doubter is that she wants to keep things as status quo as possible. This can result in feeling stagnant, helpless, and hopeless. If we allow her to run our life, every single goal or dream we bring to the table will be seen from this negative perspective. And this puts extreme limits on our ability to succeed in any endeavor.

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Challenge: Get in touch with your “Inner Hero,” the adversary of Debbie Doubter. Try this:

Think of a peak moment in your life–a time when you felt most alive and satisfied. Close your eyes and really allow the memory of this moment to wash over you. Think of the sights, smells, tastes, sounds, and exactly what it felt like to be there. Then imagine stepping aside and looking back at yourself immersed in that moment.

How would you describe yourself in this space?

If you had to describe yourself as a character, who would you be?

Here’s an example: My peak moment occurred when we were stationed in Norway enjoying an RV trip around the country. We were parked beside a crystal clear waterfall and I was sitting in a folding chair with a cup of coffee in my hand, not a care in the world. I can still hear the rippling sound of the waterfall, smell the fragrant pine trees, feel the cool mountain air, taste the strong Norwegian coffee, see my kids laughing as they played nearby. In that moment, it was clear that many of the things that easily got me spooled up in my everyday life just weren’t important in the big picture of my life. This part of me knew that, and was easily able to identify the difference between what mattered and what didn’t. I call this “Inner Hero” part of myself my Viking Twin, and tap into it often to get to the heart of a matter when I feel Debbie Doubter taking over.

Now consider your list of New Year’s resolutions from the perspective of your Inner Hero. What insights does that part of your offer? What are the differences between what Debbie Doubter believes about each goal versus what your Inner Hero believes? What truths about yourself can you discover from the Inner Hero’s perspective?

What are some tangible ideas for action to help you align with your Inner Hero? What will you commit to doing that will begin that re-alignment for 2017?

What changes do you notice in your body from this experience?  Do you feel a physical shift when you are engaging life from the standpoint of your Inner Hero? How does that feeling differ when you engage from the standpoint of Debbie Doubter? Try to notice when you are viewing life from each of these perspectives and challenge yourself to choose your viewpoint carefully.

Do you often find yourself viewing situations as Debbie Downer? How do you change your perspective? Share a tip in the comment section!

mwellsPosted by Michelle Wells, military spouse and NMFA Volunteer

4 Ways Journaling Changed My Life (And How It Can Change Yours, Too)

Ever since I can remember, I’ve kept a journal. In 2nd grade, my teacher had me jot things down daily as a way to improve my writing and storytelling. In 4th grade, my journal was a mix of photos and writing. Junior high journals turned into secret notebooks shared between friends to hash out crushes, breakups, day-to-day musings, and of course, what our favorite Lipsmackers lip gloss happened to be that week.

High school is when I started to take journaling more seriously. I filled pages with lists I wanted to remember forever, like Things That Make Me Happy and My Favorite Movies, and I had one journal filled with quotes of all kinds. I’ll be honest: most pages were my scribbled thoughts about boys. But other pages were my mind’s outlet after a friend’s death in 2002. This journal was by my side through college, where entries chronicled more boys, road trip adventures, career aspirations, and eventual life after college. It was a place to put my dreams in writing, reflect on the “problems” I thought I had, and work out how my mind would process all the things.

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Sure, to most, journaling seems like a way to just record your day, just a cure for boredom, or a hobby just for introverted weirdos (which I am). And sure, technically you could just write about your day in a ‘surface-deep’ kind of way, and you could just do it when you’re bored. But really, I think journaling can change your life (and also not turn you into an introverted weirdo, I promise).

Here’s why:

It creates conscientious, intentional moments of thought. When writing, your mind is forced to focus on that one task. There is no screen scrolling, no swiping left, no mindless getaways. You think your thoughts, and you write them down. Even five minutes of intentional focus can refresh and revive a cluttered mind.

It relieves stress and calms anxiety. Journaling creates a safe space for your anxiety to escape through your pen. Even if it’s just scribbling on a page like a 3 year old, or other alternative journals, like Wreck This Journal, giving yourself an outlet and focus off of the stress and anxiety will help slow your heart rate, normalize your breathing, and lower your blood pressure.

It ignites self-reflection. When the first two things list above are in sync, this third benefit happens naturally. A calm, stress-free, and focused mind is a clear mind. And when you can clearly and intentionally focus on your thoughts, it’s natural that one will begin to self-reflect. Unfortunately, this is also the step where I think most people quit journaling. That’s because it’s a real, in-your-face, take-accountability-for-yourself moment, and most can’t handle it. I encourage you to push through the awkwardness, ignore the part of your mind telling you not to embrace your emotion, and write it all down. Even the embarrassing, shameful, and crazy stuff you never want anyone to know.

It leaves a priceless gift for your future self. Though journaling has immediate benefits, like the three I’ve mentioned, writing down your thoughts is an extraordinary way for your future self to connect with your past self. It is a great tool to encourage gratitude, self-adjustment, and simply remind you of some incredible moments in your life you may have forgotten. When I look back at my high school and college journal, I roll my eyes at the things I thought were world-stopping, like the boys that didn’t call, the ever important question of whether Ross and Rachel really were on a break. (Were they??)

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Today, I still keep a journal. I have dreams that my future children, grandchildren, and whoever else, will read it and have explicit access into my heart, soul, and mind, even when I’m gone.

When I read back through my entries, I’m in awe of myself for how far I’ve come, and how I’ve managed to rise out of the ashes, stronger for having gone through whatever it was—whether it was a break-up, a failed college course, an engagement, or a really disgusting flavored Lipsmackers lipgloss.

Journaling truly changed my life. I challenge you to see what it does for yours.

Have you ever kept a journal? What benefits did you experience?

shannonPosted by Shannon Prentice, Content Development Manager

Exploring the Deep End: Fresh Ideas to Ignite Your New Year’s Resolutions

Ah, New Year’s resolutions. Most of us make them, but few of us keep them. And yet, after the ball has dropped and we are drunk with the limitless possibility of a clean slate, we try again.

So why aren’t the majority of us able to achieve success with this well-meaning tradition? Let’s explore a few common struggles regarding resolutions, then I’ll offer some fresh ideas to help you create achievable authentic goals for 2017.

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Struggle #1:  Staying in the shallow end

Most resolutions are created in the shallow end, or surface level, of our mind. That simply means that we sit down, spend a short amount of time pondering all the things we wish we could change, and write them down with the expectation of success. Basically, we want something for nothing. An example of this would be, “I will lose weight.” Some of us will go one extra step in proclaiming a plan of action such as, “I will lose weight by going to the gym three times a week,” but then lose our oomph after we get off track once or twice.

The difficulty with surface-level thinking is that it’s short-sighted. Many of our resolution goals involve ongoing issues we have struggled with for some time, so naturally they will not be achieved with a short-term fix.

Challenge: Instead of staying in the shallow end, expand the boundaries of your comfort zone by going deeper. Try this:

  1. Write your goal on a piece of paper. For this example, we’ll use lose weight. 
  2. Close your eyes for a few moments and steady your breathing. Ask yourself this question: What is it about losing weight?
  3. Wait for a few moments.
  4. When the answers arrive, set a minute on your timer and write them down. My answers were: feel better, stuck, heavy, baggage, getting older, freedom, want to feel healthy, be a good example to the kids, like how I look in my clothes, be satisfied. 
  5. When the timer goes off, take a look at your list and see if you can find a common theme or notice anything interesting (if you can’t, ask a trusted friend for help–sometimes this outside viewpoint makes all the difference). My list helped me see that my ultimate goal for losing weight is really about taking responsibility for my health, practicing self-acceptance, and modeling positive self-care behaviors to my children.
  6. Cross out your original goal and replace it with your updated goal: take responsibility for my health, practice self-acceptance, and model positive self-care to the kids. My updated goal has become more achievable because it has personal meaning to me, so there’s a strong motivation to invest. In addition, this goal feels much more spacious with room for progress as opposed to rigidly demanding perfection.
  7. Now you’re ready to brainstorm some achievable action items. I like to focus on one month at a time, then re-evaluate and update my goals and action plan at the beginning of each month. Some of the action items for my goal are: drink a glass of water before dinner, eat one piece of fruit with breakfast, get out in nature with the kids every Sunday, read something enjoyable before bed, find something to appreciate about my body as I brush my teeth. Try to keep your goals specific, achievable, and fun and you will have a much better chance of success! Some other ideas for success are to set daily or weekly reminders on your phone to keep you on track, or to find a fun accountability partner to check in with once a week for motivation and encouragement.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, how do they typically turn out for you? With which of your goals will you challenge yourself to “go deeper” in order to expand your understanding of the underlying significance? Does this significance motivate you to action?

Ponder with me and leave me a comment below!

mwellsPosted by Michelle Wells, military spouse and NMFA Volunteer

The True Meaning of Christmas: Military Mom Writes Novel Dedicated to Marine Corps Son

For Mary Alice Monroe, supporting the military, and the families who stand behind them, is a cause close to her heart. Her son, Zachary, is a retired Marine. And her husband’s great grandfather was Rear Admiral Spencer S. Wood, a United States Navy officer who served our country from 1882-1921.

So it’s no surprise that Monroe’s inspiration for her new novel, A Lowcountry Christmas, came directly from her encounters and experience supporting military service members. She tapped into the feeling she had as a mother with a deployed son in the Marine Corps, and while doing research for her book series at the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida, Monroe had the opportunity to do volunteer work with the Wounded Warrior Project, where she met a veteran who left an impression on her.

“It was unexpected but fateful because I worked with several veterans suffering from PTSD,” Monroe shared. “One veteran, in particular, had a service dog, and he explained to me how important his dog was to him. He said, ‘I love my wife. But I need my dog.’ It was inspiring!”

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Photo courtesy of Mary Alice Monroe

Monroe shared with NMFA that she hopes her novel will educate people about the effects of PTSD and it’s effects on the entire famly, not just the service member.

“It is a journey. One that requires love, patience, understanding and support,” she said.

A Lowcountry Christmas is the story of a wounded warrior, Taylor McClellan, who returns home for Christmas. It’s his first visit since being injured in Afghanistan. His external wounds have healed, but his mother quickly realizes that something is different about her son. The Taylor she knew had not come home. Her son called himself ‘damaged goods.’

Monroe tells the family’s story through multiple perspectives—Taylor’s, his younger brother’s, and their mother’s—so the reader can see how PTSD affects every family member. Through the miraculous donation of a service dog, the family is led on a healing journey to discover the true spirit of Christmas.

Since writing this novel, Monroe says she’s had some unexpected memorable moments. One in particular was a phone call from her son, to whom A LowCountry Christmas is dedicated.

“It was an emotional and heartwarming phone conversation,” she recalled. “And I think it’s the first time he’s actually read one of my novels!”

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But another memorable moment came during a book tour she was on with other military mothers and wives. Monroe said she heard stories from wives of Vietnam War veterans, whose husbands returned with PTSD.

“Back then, they didn’t call PTSD,” she said. “I felt such camaraderie with all these women–strangers–yet we were our own group of comrades, bound together by our connection to the military as mothers or wives.”

It was those connections that had Monroe thinking about a scene from A Lowcountry Christmas where the mother, Jenny, reflects on her son’s deployment and says, ‘I did what mothers of soldiers have done for centuries. I prayed. … I clung to my faith, believing my prayers were heard. What else could I do when I felt so helpless?’

A Lowcountry Christmas is a timeless novel truly built upon a foundation of hope, forgiveness, rebirth, and love, and is the 5th installment in Monroe’s nationally bestselling Lowcountry Series.

shannonPosted by Shannon Prentice, Content Development Manager

 

Recruiting Duty Dutch Apple Pie: Try It Out!

In 2012, while my husband was stationed in Twin Falls, Idaho on a recruiting assignment, I decided to make my first homemade apple pie for a Thanksgiving dinner we would be hosting. I knew the pie was something my husband and my father-in-law would really enjoy. My husband and I also invited over other recruiting families who couldn’t go home for the holidays.

Since I was away from my family and I didn’t know where to start with a homemade apple pie, I called my Aunt to ask about her recipe because I remembered it being a favorite growing up. I found out it was actually my Grandmother’s recipe. Not only that, it had won many blue ribbons at the county fair.

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When it came time to make the pie, I made the recipe my own by mixing ingredients from my Grandmother’s blue ribbon pie recipe and Emeril Lagasse’s pie crust recipe. To this day, my husband says it’s the best Dutch apple pie he’s ever had! It also happens to be a favorite of my father-in-law. Winning!

Every year since 2012, my husband and I make this pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m not very good at rolling out pie dough, so the dough rolling is his responsibility. He also helps with adding the apple filling and baking of the pie. I feel fortunate to have a husband who actually loves to be in the kitchen! Our holiday meals are mainly made by him. My holiday meal cooking contribution consists of two pies–the Dutch apple pie and another family favorite.

For the three years we were in Twin Falls, Idaho, we shared Thanksgiving with the same recruiting family. This year I made the pie while we were living in Chattanooga, Tennessee (my husband’s second recruiting assignment). We were lucky to share the holiday with a different recruiting family this year and we shared this pie with them. This pie is really simple to make even though it’s a little time consuming, it’s so worth it! I wanted to share the recipe for others to enjoy.

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Dodge’s Dutch Apple Pie

Pie Crust Ingredients:
Follow Emeril Lagasse’s recipe

Pie Filling Ingredients and Steps:
4 large Granny Smith apples peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and pour into pie crust

Crumb Topping Ingredients and Steps:
½ cup sugar
¾ cup flour
1/3 cup butter (cut into chunks)

Crumble together to resemble coarse crumbs. I use my hands to mix.
Sprinkle on top of apple filling in pie crust.

Place tinfoil around the edge of the pie crust so it doesn’t burn while waiting for the crumb topping to brown.

Bake pie at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake until crust browns (about 20 minutes).

Bon Appetit!

Do you have a holiday recipe with holiday memories? Share those memories with us in the comments below.

rdodge-headshotPosted by Rachael Dodge, NMFA Volunteer

Is Volunteering on Your New Year’s Resolutions List?

Ah, the holidays. Parties, gifts, food, and friends. It’s the season of giving and goodwill. And then there are New Year resolutions–read more, exercise more, and try to get eight hours of sleep a night.

But is volunteering on your resolution list?

What?! As military spouses, our lives ebb and flow with change. We’re “Semper Gumby” even when we don’t want to be. We give to our families, the military, and everyone else who needs a piece of us every day. The last thing to put on our list is giving more time to others.

But did you know volunteering to help others is actually good for YOUR health?

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If I can be healthier and not have to hit the gym as often, I’m already happier!  Studies show that helping others makes us feel better. A 2013 report showed volunteering helps you feel less stressed, more engaged, and connected to your community.

Volunteering really does make a difference. It makes a difference for you and your health. It makes a difference to those who you’ve served. And it makes a difference in the lives of the people who you directly touched.

So this holiday, please consider adding volunteering to your New Year’s resolution list. Need help finding somewhere to volunteer? Well, there’s NMFA! And if you’re looking for something the whole family can do, check out your local volunteer program or resources like generationOn and VolunteerMatch.

Get healthy in 2017! Volunteer!

christinaPosted by Christina Jumper, Volunteer & Community Outreach Director

The 3 Most Important Tips for Military Families Struggling During the Holidays

The holidays can be a tough time for many families, especially military families. Parties, dinner guest, out-of-town relatives visiting, and countless other factors make this time of year a little hard to manage. Add in alcohol, PTSD, or reintegration issues, and it’s a recipe for disaster—and not just for the service member.

Military spouses face their fair share of difficulties, like the stress of living up to Pinterest-level perfection during the holidays. Others find themselves arguing with their spouse over trivial things that wouldn’t matter any other time of year. How do we deal with it all?

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Our friends at The Real Warriors Campaign have 3 important tips that will help, not just around the holidays, but all the time.

  1. Strive for progress, not perfection. Real life isn’t a Pinterest photo, and comparison will ruin any good holiday cheer. It’s important for all members of the family to remember that progress is the goal…not perfection. And some days, progress will stall. That’s okay. Strive to move forward at your own ATTAINABLE pace, not perfection’s ridiculous unattainable pace.
  2. Seek care early. If something feels off, it probably is. Letting internal battles fester only creates longer lasting, more difficult obstacles to overcome. Talk with your spouse about what factors would have to be present to get care, and figure out what ‘care looks like. Mental, physical, and emotional care are available for all members of the family.
  3. Ask for help when needed. And know there is NO shame in doing it. Military spouses and children often face higher levels of anxiety than their civilian counterparts, and can easily find counselors through the Military Health System or on-base counseling center to help work through mental anguish. Service members have the same options, and a plethora of other resources, like The Real Warriors Campaign. Getting help, even if it’s just someone to listen to a gripe, is accessible and can be life-saving.

As you gather with family, friends, and loved ones this holiday season, prepare yourself for situations that might be uncomfortable. Team up with your spouse and tackle boundaries that need to be set, and know that these 3 simple tips can help. Just ask SFC David Parish.

How does your family deal with the stress of the holidays?

shannonPosted by Shannon Prentice, Content Development Manager