Yes – so be it

We are often over stretching ourselves, trying to cover all bases at work, keep the home ship sailing and feeling like we should fit in feeding our wellbeing through yoga, hygge or mindfulness.  We think we need to learn to say ‘no’ to plans which we can’t fit in, ‘no’ to things we think we might not enjoy in order to make more time for ourselves and our ‘main’ priorities.  Yet these main priorities are often not focusing truly on what we need.

Whilst my husband was deployed and time alone stood before me like a deserted plain I learned an important lesson.  To say ‘yes’ to things I felt I didn’t have time for.  I’m almost obsessive about time in a day.  When I was on my own I became more so, going to bed I could picture the next day in blocks of designated time, each piece of work, a task at home or a meal perfectly slotted in.  My problem the next day arises when those timings inevitably start to slip, leaving me feeling behind and chaotic.  Letting go of that mindset for me is difficult, but time and time again when I throw caution to the wind and accept a last minute coffee date which pushes my timescale out of sync I ALWAYS feel so much better.  It’s a strange thing, I’m actually very spontaneous and will do some pretty adventurous things, but I also like to be prepared.

The word ‘yes’, by the way, derives from Olde English when it meant something like ‘so be it’.

If I hadn’t said yes enough over these past few months I would never have discovered Cambridge Folk Festival after an invite from a good friend.  It was such an amazing opportunity to reconnect with the power of music, and the power of women.  I now have such vivid memories of the weekend.

One week I had been extremely busy, driving back and forth and spreading myself too thin.  When the weekend rolled around I had planned to keep Sunday totally free and watch the entire series of Killing Eve in one go.  8 hours of tv.  The dream.  Or so I thought.  A text from a friend looking for an adventure buddy on the weekend led me to exploring Marlborough and catching up on all things army wife life and beyond.  We spent a lovely afternoon pottering through a forest followed by a tasty lunch.  What I needed was fresh air and company, not 8 hours of nail biting tv.

On another occasion I waited until the very last minute to decide whether to head to London for the weekend.  I’d been invited to two different 30th birthday parties one on Friday and one on Saturday, all my best pals would be there.  But I was dog sitting for a friend and had two dogs to entertain. I thought it was too tricky to juggle the situation.  After finding a kennel for one dog and calling on my super dog walker for the other I set off for an incredible weekend in London.  Staying with my good friend and her partner I felt so happy for them, it was a while since I’d spent time with just the two of them and they are so in love.  I returned from London rich on the love from all my pals.  On Monday evening the friend I’d stayed with called me,  she was engaged and I was over the moon.  How special to spend time with them just before they take the next step on their life journey.

The picture for this blog post is a list of things that feature in my ‘perfect day’.  At a conference I attended recently one of the workshop sessions was a meditation session.  Usually I would bypass that for something more commercial,  but that day I said yes to the meditation.  As part of the session we were asked to write down what our perfect day looks like.  Note how 8 hours of tv is not featured.   Then we were told to make a star by all the things that fall to the wayside when we are stressed and feel ‘busy’.

When things get hectic I just about manage to walk my dog, because it would be unfair not to, and eat healthily, because otherwise I’ll run out of energy.  It’s scary how much I neglect, and how if I said yes to different things I’d be fulfilling my perfect day more regularly.  Even more scary…most of the things I do regularly like answer emails, check social media or watch a (guilty pleasure alert) show like Real Housewives of Somewhere are not on this list at all.  Yet they are what I do more of when I’m stressed and busy.  The mindfulness session ended with us working on fitting a small element of each of our ‘perfect day’ activities into our day or week.

I’m saying yes to following that through.

Living out of a suitcase

I’ve been living out of suitcase since I could first travel by myself. From an early age I knew the small town I grew up in was not the place I’d spend the rest of my life. Straight out of school I was on a plane as fast as possible with a big bag and even bigger dream. I don’t really feel like that’s come to an end, and if anything army life perpetuates the constant cycle of movement from one place to another. Many army families live in places they don’t come from, so to keep contact with friends and family requires travel. This happens mostly at the weekend. When others take an opportunity to pause, we’re off on an adventure to touch base with important people in our lives. Couple this with a job which requires at least one or two trips away a week and suddenly home feels like a stopping point in route to the next destination.Of course this situation is not unique to army life, but it’s something we have to learn to embrace. That’s not always easy but I think as you start to embrace I think it gets easier to live in the moment and be grateful for the little things. Home is a feeling of security and comfort, and you can find that outside your own four walls. Life in general is different now, we can travel much further faster, we can talk ‘face-to-face’ online and we can connect with people around the globe. So maybe there are some benefits to being able to pack your life into a bag and spend quality, real face to face time whenever possible. I think army families are particularly good at this, so when it feels hard remember that it’s the small moments that matter and sometimes you need to go seek them out.

Deployment goals

My husband will now be away for 6 months, and I could feel really sad about this.  However I’m a strong believer in making the most of things and I intend to enjoy the next 6 months and make some lovely memories with friends, family and, of course, my dog.  I decided for this deployment to have some goals which are all about me, it’s helping me to fill my free time with things I enjoy doing.  I’ve kept these goals straightforward and easy to achieve.  Here they are:

#Goal1 – Dog training 

As you can probably tell I’m wildly in love with my fox red labrador Ziggy.  He’s a loyal companion and running buddy who’ll set the pace for miles.  Due to my obsession it’s fair to say I’ve let him get away with a fair bit.  He’s a pretty cheeky character who, if given the chance, will run round the house with a toilet brush clamped in his mouth and avoid capture for a good half an hour.

Since he’s a super smart dog (bias? Yes!) I think it’s time we put that brain to good use and start some dog training.  We’ll be kicking off 4 one-to-one sessions in May and I can’t wait.  My overall goal is to get into gun-dog training, but we’ll take this paw by paw

#Goal2 – Write my grandad’s memoirs

My amazing Grandad turns 92 this year, he’s still playing golf and is one of the biggest inspirations to me.  Every time I see him he tells me a different story about his life and I’m always blown away by his memories and adventures.  This year I’m going to start documenting his memories and I can’t wait to discover aspects of his life I’ve not yet heard about.

#Goal3 – Get creative 

I’m a somewhat closet creative, I enjoy making things and doing things but they usually turn into things which aren’t very useful so it sometimes it feels like a waste of time.  I’ve decided to try a few creative activities and see if I’m secretly really good at something.  So far I’ve started knitting and I’ll be attending my first pottery class (I’m imagining Ghost of course) next week.  Would love any tips on creative activities I could try out!

#Goal4 – Get outside

Living in the Highlands meant we were outside more than we were inside.  Now we’ve moved away from the mountains and the beach I need more motivation to get outside.  I’ve started exploring the Cotswold countryside around where we live and hope to start documenting what we find on our travels.

#Goal5 – Makeup

Literally makeup.  This is a random goal, but I’ve been doing my makeup the same way since I was 16.  So it’s time for a makeup lesson so I can act my age (but hopefully look younger).  My hair is going grey and I’m severely allergic to hair dye, so it’s time to up my makeup game and embrace the grey.

 

 

Armed Forces Covenant

It wasn’t until fairly recently, thanks to a piece of work with a client who works closely with the military community, that I fully appreciated what the Armed Forces Covenant means.

The Covenant brings together policy makers, businesses, communities and government departments (amongst many other stakeholders!) who are committed to treating members of the armed forces, and their families, fairly.

There are many ways which businesses and communities can honour their commitment to the Covenant.  I’ve listed some examples below:

  • Over 1,500 businesses have signed the Covenant and they provide support through offering military discounts, providing employment support for armed forces and their families – including reservists.
  • The Covenant has led to extra funding in schools to support for children in forces families.  This is known as the Service Pupil Premium and is designed to respond to the unique needs of children in forces families who may have increased mobility and have parents away on deployment.
  • If you own a house and need to rent it to move for a posting it’s worth checking if your mortgage provider can switch your mortgage to a buy to let at no extra cost.  This saves you time and money and ensures that you can rent your house inline with your mortgage terms.  You can find out more here.
  • There are small to large grants available for community activities which focus on armed forces and their families.  These range from sports programmes, nurseries, mentoring services to research and art exhibitions.  If you have ideas for projects which could be funded find out more here.

Curtains

Army curtains are a unique design, designed for people with very particular taste.  It’s a good idea when you start living in army quarters to know what size your windows are and find some curtains which are easy on the eye, and don’t make your hangover worse when you see them!

(this picture by the way are not the army pattern, this is my idea of a pattern which is easy on eye!)