5 Ways to Stay Present Through a PCS, and Beyond
“No matter where you go, there you are.” So true on so many levels. Just like the members of almost every Military Family, guest blogger and MilSpouse Laurie Borrett can relate. She has returned to SpouseLink to share with us her tips, wisdom and inspiration for making a military PCS from here to there… and staying in the moment every mile of the way. Read her thoughts and advice below.
In a rare quiet moment, I allowed myself to sink into reflection. The warm soapy water at my feet swirling towards the drain, the window lazily fogging with steam. Through the steamy bathroom window my eyes resting on the view. Dazzling sunlight, relentless waves breaking along shore, surfers dotting the water. Right, so I’m washing my hair while looking out at views of the Pacific. Utterly overwhelmed with gratitude for the amazing journey that is our life.
Not even five months ago I watched this same ocean from the other side of the world as we prepared to move stateside after an amazing tour abroad. A tour that left our passports covered in stamps and our horizons broadened. Now here I am in this moment, in this house, across the street from the beach in San Diego, CA. Who gets this lucky? Who’s life is this?
Here, I’ll interject, this is not going to be your typical PCS musings. The world has heard enough of the stressed out, we move every three years, career on hold, got to be a strong woman, lonely life, with resilient military kid type storylines… albeit valid points. Amen to all of that.
Just examining life through a different pair of lens today… the present moment.
As Military Families we are afforded so many unique opportunities — none of which include putting down roots, living nearby extended family, buying that “forever home,” or having Dad at the dinner table each evening. Instead, we are blessed to be “guests” in the many towns and cities around the world our spouses’ careers take us to reside. To live fully in the present and in a state of gratitude, we must stay focused on the opportunities; avoid focusing on the stress that also accompanies Military life.
Today, I’m sharing my 5 tips on how to cultivate an enviable life, despite the many uncertain variables we military families face. Trust me you can do this! I am such a stress monster, shy in new situations, prone to impatience, and OCD with my planning and organizing. The joy I’ve found when I intentionally appreciate the present has enriched my life in ways I never could have imagined.
1. Research EVERYTHING
So if you thought I wasn’t going to include my OCD peeps, I got you. This is for all of you list makers, planners, and organizers. Right here will be your favorite tip. So when you get those magical orders to a new duty station research EVERYTHING immediately. Why the urgency? Having to rely on the government and moving companies will lead to SO many things just being out of your control, why not plan for a few things that you can control. Obviously researching housing and schools is a top priority. I encourage you to delve further than that.
Visualize your day to day lives… grocery shopping, parks, libraries, running routes, gyms, parks, extracurricular activities for kids, whatever may be important for your family. I use google maps (satellite setting) to help make decisions about neighborhood choice based on proximity to our daily living priorities. Let’s face it, you won’t have time to research how close the nearest yoga studio is once the move is underway, so do it now! Upon arrival, this will have you ready to dive right into your new community and live in the present moment.
2. Keep the “Door” of Your Prior Duty Station Closed
I know this sounds harsh, but it is a MUST in order to appreciate the present moment. This does not mean leave friends or memories behind. By all means stay in touch with friends, and keep dear memories in your heart.
What it does mean, do not live in the past, don’t compare, and don’t have expectations of this duty station to be like the previous one. You have got to stay focused and facing forward, dwelling in the past will only bring you down.
3. Establish a Routine ASAP
This is a crucial step to getting on with your life. Once the last of the boxes are unpacked and the seemingly endless errands and checklists are just about through, it is tempting to take a breather and just relax at home. Don’t do it! You’ll get stuck in that phase for too long, and waste precious moments living life. Three years (give or take) at your new home is a gift. The “timer” starts NOW! This is where my #1 tip (research EVERYTHING) will really come in to play. Following that VERY important suggestion, you will have already done your homework on your new hood. Thus you will know where the nearest or coolest parks, library, museum, YMCA, karate, gymnastics classes, swimming pools etc… and you will have combed through social media for any relevant mom groups or meet ups. What are you waiting for?!? Time for the FUN.
This is one of my favorite stages of moving in. Everything is new and exciting! In order to avoid being overwhelmed I highly recommend mapping out your week:
- Monday: Children’s Museum + grocery store
- Tuesday: visit a preschool + play at the park that is nearby
- Wednesday: Library story time followed by errands, or a workout at the gym
- Thursday: swimming
- Friday: mom’s running group + playdate
By scheduling your days you will be fully immersed in all that your new locale has to offer, and that my friend, is living in the present moment — embracing all that is before you in life.
Put yourself out there and connect with like-minded individuals. I know this can be so intimidating, stressful, and uncomfortable. You will not regret showing up to that run club, bible study, cooking class, or photography workshop.
FYI this never gets easier for me, but also never fails to amaze me how many blessings abound when you allow yourself to get uncomfortable. I wholly believe that like energy attracts like energy, and I guarantee you will meet your tribe this way! Connecting with others is a great way to live and love the present moment. Remember out of taking risks comes opportunity. Just be patient, open-minded, and keep showing up!
You’ve researched your new town, seen some interesting places on Google Maps, now you get to test drive. When we first moved to San Diego I practiced at three different yoga studios, all within five miles, before I decided on a favorite. I had to shop at SO many area grocery stores before I found “the one.” We now have our park/playground stops down to a science based on various errand routes through town. Exploring goes hand and hand with establishing routine as well as connecting. By getting out of the house and discovering your surroundings, you can begin to determine what would work as additions to your weekly routine (i.e., Which grocery stores you prefer, the nearest Starbucks, your go-to nail salon, weekend brunch cafe, favorite parks, favorite running routes, that great spot your family loves for take-out… whatever floats your boat!).
As a family, you will have a blast constructing a fabulous life at your new duty station, living fully in the present, and making friends along the way. I encourage you to seek out these “spots” in your community sooner rather than later. Incorporating them into your daily routine will add a wonderful dimension to your life.
If you’d like to share your own PCS tips with us, please leave a comment below or click “Tell Your Story“.
About Laurie Borrett:
Laurie is an ACE certified health coach, yoga instructor, avid runner, recipe creator, travel fanatic, and lover of all things fitness. She and her family currently live in San Diego, CA. A Marine Corps wife and busy mama to daughter Olive Kate, when Laurie is not teaching yoga or blogging, you can find her out running the gorgeous California beaches and trails, taking a yoga class, sampling local fresh eats, developing recipes, and just loving every second of being a mama. You can find her online at thepaisleyolive.com.