• Advertisements

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #426

Keeping Yourself Busy – Tip #426

Many people who have written or spoken to me about this.  They have a lot to say about my tip #7 – “Keep Busy” from my book.  Of course, I should have written “Keep Busy With the Things That You Love or Make You Feel Better About Life In General”.  Most of us have no problem being busy (there are always things like; laundry, dishes, phone calls, appointments, work, birthdays, etc.) but it is what we are filling our time with that we need to be mindful of.  Keeping busy doesn’t mean watching TV for hours on end (living someone’s real or imaginary life), doing piles of laundry or running errands for other people.

The point is that you find something that you really enjoy and go for it.  Surf the internet for ideas and suggestions and then look to see what is offered in your area.  Make sure it is easy to get to and works with your schedule.  Keep busy with things that you enjoy doing as well as all the other things that life throws your way.

Until recently, I had always thought of myself as someone who really wasn’t a big hobby person.  I had tried scrap booking, stamp collecting, coin collecting, making various crafts, etc. all without being able to really stick with it for very long.  I have now realized that I just hadn’t found something that I was passionate about.  I now realize that most people who have a hobby, whether it is flying mini-planes, mountain climbing, going to air shows, are into car racing or comic book conventions, scrap booking, etc. are passionate about it.  They got lost in time and in the moment and really enjoy it.  I have fallen in love with pottery and two hours each week will go by without me thinking about my work, issues with the kids, lunches for the next day, appointments, laundry, the overgrown lawn, etc.  It is the place where I lose myself and it feels so good.  Everyone needs to keep busy by being lost in something for at least a part of their week if not a part of their day.  So… think about all the things that you have an interest in or at one point in time have thought that it would be a great thing to try, list them and then make some time to get out there and try them.  On many bases there are facilities just waiting to be used and if there isn’t pop into the nearest city or town over and get to their community centre, library, or post office and find out where and how you can keep busy doing something you enjoy and are passionate about.

Some Ideas To Consider:

Rock climbing

Stamp or coin Collecting

Scrap booking



Sketching/ Art classes


Scuba Diving




Walking Club

Book Club


Jewelery making

Music lessons

Stained glass




Car resortation




Just to name a few…

For more information about our tips, books and resources go to: www.WhileYouWereAway.org

To submit a tip of your own write to: Megan@WhileYouWereAway.org


1001 Tips for Military Families – #425

Patience for Yourself and Others – Tip #425

For our family, the toughest part of the deployments was when my husband got back. It wasn’t because we weren’t happy to see each other (we were) or that he hadn’t been missed (he had been very missed) but almost everything had changed – we had changed, routines had changed, likes and dislikes were different, and he had changed and had experienced things we couldn’t understand and vise versa. We were impatient with each other and most of all ourselves.  There were big gaps to fill, some changes to be made (once again) and somethings couldn’t go back to the way they were before. This made our relationship and our family life challenging for longer than I would have expected.
Being patient with others sometimes is much easier than with yourself. We can often forgive others for things we have never considered forgiving ourselves for. When your family member comes home it is once again another change and adjustments need to be made and it can test your patience and frustrate you like nothing else. Many families think that it should just easily flip back to the way things once were but it can’t . You have learned things about yourself, discovered different ways of doing things and had experiences that you have not shared.  You need to be patient with yourself first and foremost and this will help you to be more patient with others too.

* When you are angry, frustrated or annoyed with yourself – ask “Would I be this way if it was someone else?”
* Take time each day for yourself, to be honest with yourself and how you are feeling and forgive yourself if they are not the nicest of thoughts (we all have them)
* Don’t respond to people or demands immediately – let them know a timeframe in which you will get back to them and then take at least a few minutes to think about whether or not it is something you want to do, need to do or could say ‘no’ to
* Before you even get up in the morning tell yourself that it is okay if you make mistakes, get frustrated, angry or annoyed – you are human and everyone feels these things
* Be patient with your family, they are going through the changes too and feel many of the same things you do (even our youngest family members or pets can really struggle with changes in routines)
* Teach your family to be patient by talking about what tests your patience, your reactions and how you are learning to be patient with yourself (talk the talk and walk the talk)
* Each day think of one thing you wish you could have done differently or hadn’t done at all and forgive yourself

 For more information about our tips, books and resources, go to: www.WhileYouWereAway.org

To send a tip of your own, write to: Megan@WhileYouWereAway.org

1001 Tips for Military Families – #423

Olivia’s Song – Tip #423

I have a lot of people write and ask for me to just write a tip and advertise this or that and normally I say no but once I heard this song and Olivia’s voice, it is hard not to want to share it.

Olivia is an Army wife at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and yesterday she released a video for a song that she wrote for military spouses who (like herself) have endured countless deployments and separations.

No actors were used in the video – only active duty Army soldiers & their families who were preparing for deployments at the time of filming. Those soldiers are now deployed to Afghanistan, so the video is very much “art-meets-life.”

In addition, she has pledged to donate half of my proceeds from the song to the Fisher House Foundation to support military families.

I am including the YouTube link in hopes that you will share it too.

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip # 422

Resiliency & PTSD – Tip #422

It is easy to get consumed with our own lives, I do it constantly.  I forget that everyone has their own challenges, dramas and stresses. This is much the same when you or someone you love is struggling with PTSD.  I am not, for a minute, suggesting that you take on other people’s stresses and drama.  I am, however, suggesting that one of the best ways to make yourself feel better is to do a few small things each day for other people.  There are a lot of people and organizations talking a lot about resiliency but I believe that you can become more resilient by reaching out to others, losing yourself (if only for a few minutes) in some small task, feeling good about something you can accomplish for someone else and just getting outside of your own world.  My challenge to you all is to take the list below and over the next 7 days complete as many as you can.  Challenge your family and friends to complete the list as well.


* Clean up someone’s mess

* Leave a note for someone telling them how great you think they are

* Hide a little money in the pocket of someone you love

* Buy or make a fancy dessert

* Take someone, who is having a rough time, a coffee

* Send an email to someone that you have been out of touch with and tell them you missed them

* Give an anonymous donation

* Volunteer an hour of your time

* Take a neighbor’s garbage out/in

* Be the first to apologize

* Compliment a stranger

* Tell a parent or child why they are so important to you

* Make someone laugh until they are nearly crying

* Donate to a charity

* Go for a bike ride or walk with someone

For more information about our tips, books and resources go to:  www.WhileYouWereAway.org

To submit a tip of your own or suggest a tip, write to: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org

1001 Tips for Military Families – #421

PTSD: What to Avoid – Tip #421

There is a lot of information out there about what PTSD looks like, feels like and strategies for how a person with it can try to cope but there isn’t a lot for family members, friends and colleagues who are trying to support a loved one.  Here are my top ten tips to try to avoid.  They are easy pitfalls and I really believe just knowing what they are will help you.

1) Avoid criticizing – it may be constructive but they hear judgment, lack of understanding and dissatisfaction

2) Avoid making a joke out of it or labeling – doing this will only cause them to be further withdrawn or disconnected with you.  Even if they are laughing at the time this is not a reflection of how they are truly feeling.  Nothing about PTSD is funny when you are going through it.  Find things in other areas of your lives to laugh about.

3) Don’t compare – each person experiences PTSD in very different ways and for different reasons.  Comparing will only lead to frustration.

4) Don’t try to be a doctor and work it all out.  Your job is to offer encouragement and support – don’t try to tell them what you think is wrong with them.  Would you want someone sitting down with you and pointing out all of your issues, faults or problems?

5) Avoid setting time limits – Everyone will have a different pace to their recovery and they need to be able to set it themselves and not feel pressured or held to a particular date and time.  It will only sabotage their progress.

6) Don’t be bossy – This one is in my nature and a tough one but it doesn’t help!  They have been coming from a setting where they had very little they could control and need a chance to feel in control of their lives and in the driver’s seat.  If you are always telling them what to do they never have a chance to establish a new sense of control.

7) Don’t Push or Pressure – If they tell you that they aren’t ready, it will not help if you keeping asking or demand it of them.  Give them an out, time to think and accept decisions that wouldn’t be the ones you would make or that you think are right. They will do things when they are ready.

8) Don’t agree when you really don’t – Placating or telling someone something that they want to hear isn’t going to help either.  You need to be you, stick to what you believe and be honest.  No one wants to live or be a in relationship with someone (for long) that isn’t honest or just says what they want to hear and you won’t be able to keep it up for long either!   Be who you are so that you are able to give them time to recover and be who they want to be.

9) Never give up – Avoid doing things like raising your hands in the air and walking out, leaving for awhile, avoiding them, etc.  When you are willing to stick it out you will also teach them the same thing.  Your perseverance will one day be theirs.

10) Talk about your problems too – Your life doesn’t stop because you are living with, working with or loving someone who has PTSD.  One of the best ways to engage them back into your world is to share your worries, stresses and strains.  Don’t avoid talking about your life because their life is hard and this should also be a motto they follow too!

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to:  www.WhileYouWereAway.org