Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dear Military Spouse: Are You Well?

I wanted to preface this post with a little bit of background information for you. I recently started on a health journey of my own. I've been making food and exercise changes little by little to help me live a healthier and happier lifestyle. So, when I was presented with the opportunity to be an ambassador for a free, online Military Spouse Wellness Summit, it seemed like the perfect fit.

This Summit will take place from October 19 - 24. The entire event is online, which is super helpful since so many of us are busy and unable to travel for an event. Get ready for a few link drops as I give you the details of the events. I encourage you to visit these links, but also make sure you read the rest of this post for even more important information!

The event is hosted by InDependent, The Army Wife Network, and The USAA Educational Foundation. It will last from October 19 - 24 with lots of recordings from health and fitness experts along with financial experts. The event will cover health, nutrition, fitness, and finances - these are all just tiny pieces in the puzzle called "wellness." In addition to the information presented in the free summit, participants also get a year membership to Thrive Market ($49 value) and one week of virtual health training at Fit. Active. Toned.  Did I mention that there will also be prizes given out during the summit? I can't wait to participate and I hope that you will join us too! All you have to do is register by clicking on this link.

Now we're going to get to my post (which is about wellness, hence the background information). Feel free to share this event with all of your military-affiliated friends using this link:

Dear Military Spouse,

I want to take a moment to talk to you about YOU.  Yep, that's right - I don't want to talk about your spouse or your kids. I want to talk about you and your well-being. As military spouses, we often put the well-being of everyone else ahead of us. We do what's best for our spouse's career and our children's lives without stopping to think about what's best for us.

I've only been a spouse for a year, but in that year, I have certainly made decisions based on more than just my needs. Prior to marriage, I was much more focused on my needs and wants. Now, there's always a bigger picture and sometimes my needs or wants are put on the back burner. This is all okay and it's a natural part of marriage, but we have to make sure we're focused on our own wellness or the results can be negative for everyone involved.

I want you to think for a moment. What is wellness? What does it mean to take care of your own well-being? I'm going to share my thoughts on this topic but I also want you to think about your own definition of wellness as you go.

Here you go. Here's the pieces of my wellness puzzle and why I've chosen to include them.

Health - The first piece to being well is being healthy. This means taking care of yourself and trying to prevent illness. An unhealthy you is good to no one and is (typically) miserable. For me, being healthy means staying on top of my daily medications and resting from time to time to prevent my body from being worn down.

Nutrition - This is often lumped in with health but I like to separate it. It's important to think about what's going into your body. Your daily food decisions can help you out in the short term and long term of life. It's not always easy, but I'm working towards making healthier, more balanced decisions when it comes to food.

Fitness - Your body was made to move. Therefore, it's important that you give it these opportunities. I used to hate working out - it always seemed like a chore. Then, one day, I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone. I decided to try out various workouts. In the process, I discovered some that I love and it's no longer a chore (well, most days).

Finances - Money problems can be a big stress-inducer. It's important that you spend time talking about money and working out solutions with your spouse. Remember, finances is not a battle that you fight alone. My husband and I frequently talk about finances and our decisions with them. We always have a new "budget" talk before he goes on deployment to insure we're on the same page of what is being spent by whom.

Stress - Stress is a huge part of the wellness puzzle. I'd say it's a bigger piece than some of the others. Knowing how and when to handle stress is a crucial piece to staying well. Too much stress can lead to unhappiness and sickness. I could give you lots of advice on handling stress but I'll save that for another post. For now, I'll simply say don't be afraid to ask for help.

There's plenty of smaller pieces that I could include in the puzzle such as environment, sleep, and having goals. I decided to stick to the largest pieces of the puzzle for this post though. I hope you thought about your own version of the wellness puzzle and what you would include. I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

I'm going to be returning next week with tips on how to stay well and enjoy life even during deployment. Wednesdays are going to be dedicated to wellness for a while as I celebrate the upcoming event and focus on making a few more changes for my own well-being.

Until next time,
The Coastie Wife

P.S. If you didn't click over to join the wellness summit earlier, I hope you will now. Here's the link again!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Three Easy Steps to a Cleaner Home

Whenever the husband goes on deployment, I seem to go on a cleaning and organizing spree. With time, I've slowly realized that I have a method to my madness that never varies. Each time (without even realizing it), I follow three easy steps that help me get things in order and looking nice. I thought I'd take a break from cleaning to share them with you.

Before I get into any of the steps, I want to share a secret with you. These steps should be tackled on a room by room basis. Do not jump from room to room when you're going through the steps. Stay focused on one room at a time for the highest productivity. (This tip is coming from someone who gets easily distracted.)

Step 1: Get rid of unnecessary items.

Your first step is to survey the room and get rid of anything you don't need. You're going to need a trash bag (or two) and a box for this step. The trash bag is going to be for any trash (and a second one for recycling if that's an option). Walk around the room and pick up anything that can be trashed - this might be old scraps of papers or other items that may have been "left behind" unintentionally. Survey the room really well - especially if you live with anyone else.

Now, you're going to put that box (or crate in my case) to use. Survey the room once more. This time you're looking for anything that is no longer needed. Maybe it's the vase you no longer like or the book you've finished (unless you're going to read it again, do you really need it?). All of these items should go into the crate to donate or sell. (I'll be doing another post on how I determine what to get rid of.)  These bags and crates should be set by the door because they are going to travel to the next room with you. You're also going to want them nearby in case you find more items to put into them.

Step 2: Return items to their proper room.

The next step is really simple but it's also the step that's going to require the most focus and discipline. Look around the room and start gathering anything that doesn't belong. Maybe there's a plate from lunch sitting on the coffee table or a pair of shoes by the door. Pick up these items and return them to their proper room. Don't worry about putting them away yet - simply return them to the room. Remember my tip from earlier? You don't want to get distracted by another room. Stay focused on the room you're working in. Your goal with this step is to get items out of the room you're in. (The only exception is when you are returning items to a room you've already worked in. Then, you want to make sure you put the item away or you'll have to repeat this cycle over and over again.)

Step 3: Put everything away and clean the room.

Once you've returned everything to its proper room, you'll be able to put everything in its proper place. (If things don't have a proper place, then you might discover that "organizing" needs to be added to your to do list.) After everything is in its place, it'll be easy to sweep and dust around the room. You can do step 2 and 3 at the same time - as long as you stay focused on the room you're in.

There you go - my three easy steps for tackling clutter and getting things clean! Now, all you have to do is decide which room to start in. I like to start in the living room when I clean. Which room do you prefer to start in?

Friday, September 18, 2015

What I Learned in the First Year of Marriage

I have received a berthing work assignment out at sea from the wife, (not homework, because on a ship I am working at the closest thing I get to home) to write what I have learned in one year of marriage. Without having a lot of time to think about it some kernels just float to the top. So, Here we go!

One thing that I have learned is that video games are a double edged sword.
We both like to play coop video games like Mario Brothers, and DK on the Wii. Where this is a truly great bonding experience it does have some problems. First and foremost is that the yoke is never equal when playing games like this. It has been true my entire life, when playing coop someone is always better and carries the team. That's just the way things are. The back edge of the blade comes when you are playing a game in which the other player can interfere with your character. On Mario Wii, for those of you who have never played it, you can interfere with your teammate and not only steal their items, but send them over cliffs and into enemies, block jumps, ruin combos, and inevitably waste lives running around each other like a couple of idiots. That is where the test of the relationship comes in.

Wine and craft beer will always be an adventure.
Just let me say this - if you do nothing but sit at home and drink wine, you're doing it wrong. Turns out that winos and craft brewers love their festivals. We have had the most fun going out to wineries and different wine-oriented festivals such as the balloon festival in Temecula, CA. The Sonoma County Home Brewers Competition and beer garden events also draw craft brewers and beer lovers like moths to a flame. The fun-loving groups that wind up at events like these have, so far, just been out for a good time, and don't raise much of a fuss while keeping the events civil for everyone to enjoy.

Festivals are never a bad idea.

Let me start by saying that some festivals are a flop. These flop festivals are still great to go to. Even though it may suck while you're there, they will still offer some measure of fun and bring you closer. The Renaissance Faire that Pam and I went to was one of these such flops. The PC litigations of the state they were in forced family friendly acts, which restricted the actors. The stands had some to offer but most were not up to a purchasable standard. The food and drink were outrageous for even a fair. Even though the acting was caged (and you could tell the actors wanted to do better than they were allowed), the temperature was 110 (and they were charging $4 a bottle of crystal geyser), and the joust was hilariously staged, the two of us found things to laugh about and had an overall good time. That being said, the bad ones make the good ones so much better. Between the Dickens Faire (which we will be attending again this year), the pirate festival, the balloon festival, and home brewers competition, we have had so much fun together and aggressively grown our friendship which is the building block for our relationship.

The little things get you.
Now I have heard this for years from many different people, but I had no idea how true it was or how trivial it could be. The things you will find irritating about your other half are so trivial and pointless you wouldn't even think it worth mentioning but it grinds the nerves none the less. I'll give you an example, (and Brenda I know you're reading this and laughing in 3.2.1.) I can hear the wife gulp a glass of water from the other room. Where this is not a problem, it is something that kinda tightens my jaw. Does it make me mad? No. Does it effect our relationship? No. Is it a problem worth correcting? No. However, it is a shining example of proof that the most arbitrary and pointless stuff will prick your nerves. To be fair, I know that there is a land slide of things that I do that irritates her.

Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
In the year that we have been married, it is safe to say that we have only spent about 6 months together. My job has had me out to sea for extended periods of time, and where e-mail and satelite communication has made things a little easier, it is still not easy. It's hard not to think about all of the moments we're missing while I stare at water for days on end. I hear the stories and see the pictures from my wife going out on activities and making friends on her adventures, and think that would be a great thing to do together. On my end, I hit a nice port, and have my adventures and can't help but to stop occasionally and think, "the wife would love this." The end result becomes an amalgamation of stories from each individual that are somewhat entertaining but speak of holes created between us. These holes do not separate us spiritually. The connection between us remains strong and only grows stronger with each passing second away from each other. At times it is possible to ignore the dull ache left over from a missing part of yourself, but it will always resurface at the most unexpected moments.

The last thing that I have learned is this -
I love my wife more than I ever could have imagined I could love someone.
I am still surprised regularly by the fact that I love her more today than I did yesterday.

And for anyone who thinks the wife made me put that may need to re-evaluate the parameters of their relationship. If your man isn't this sweet, he's doing it wrong.

Do you want to see what the wife wrote about the first year of marriage? You can read it here.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Plate for One

Hey everyone! Coastie Wife here! I just wanted to stop by today for a moment and let you know that for the next few months, recipes will be featured on my blog in a special series I'm doing focused on eating for one. I spend a lot of time alone during deployments and I'm using that time to create meals that are easy to make and enjoy when you're living alone. I hope you'll head over and check out my healthy series called Plate for One! Simply click on the image below to see what recipes are already up and ready for you to try out! New recipes are posted every Friday!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Santa Cruz Highlights

I like to travel even when the husband isn't around. So, when a friend suggested Santa Cruz, CA for Labor Day, I quickly agreed to the trip! It's not the first time I've been to Santa Cruz so it's not a new adventure but it is the first time I've been with my friend (who grew up in the area), so there will be new things to experience.

Agreeing to this trip made me think back on my first trip to Santa Cruz. I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things from that trip. I'll come back in a week or two to share from today's trip. I think it'll be fun to compare the two trips!

Santa Cruz is known for it's beaches. In fact, when someone mentions Santa Cruz, my first thought is "the beach." I used to associate it with the beach even before I went to visit. I found it interesting that the beach here looks just like it does in movies and tv shows that feature California beaches.

Santa Cruz is also known for its boardwalk. All summer long, I heard about Santa Cruz and how great the beach boardwalk is on the radio. It was cool seeing all of the colors and sights of the boardwalk. We didn't ride any rides but I did enjoy an ice cream cone as we walked!

I actually preferred the hidden beaches we found on our journey over the tourist trap that the beach near the boardwalk seemed to be. I loved the natural beauty that came with the ones off the beaten path.

We also went to visit the lighthouse of the area. There was a sign near hear honoring the many surfers who have lost their lives to the waves. That's another thing Santa Cruz is known for - their surfer history.

Further down the beach is also a monument honoring the surfer culture of the area. We made sure to walk down in order to take a picture since we somehow missed it on our drive along the beach.

Natural landmarks and cool rock formations were plenty in Santa Cruz. I enjoyed looking at this natural bridge that was just off shore. Sea lions could be seen on many of these rock formations throughout the water.

I enjoyed the views and getting to enjoy the sea air. We even found a tall rock outcropping where we could watch the surfers from afar. It was amazing!

The beauty of Santa Cruz didn't stop with the natural wonders. It extended to the beach as well, where Santa Cruz Sand carves incredible art into the sand. I can't wait to see what he's working on for Labor Day!

Seriously, this guy had some incredible art and it was all made from wet sand! Take a moment while you're on Facebook to look him up. I promise you won't be disappointed!

We also encountered the normal California wildlife while we were in Santa Cruz. This perky little seagull posed beautifully for his close up shot. I'm not a huge seagull fan but I did enjoy how nicely he posed for me!

We also came across the classic sea lion that the bay area is well-known for. These guys were grouped together right along the boardwalk. I couldn't believe how close they were!

And one last gorgeous photo of the waves that make this place so unique! I enjoyed watching the water beat against the rocks, sending sprays of water into the air like this one!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Photo Friday: Congrats!

Originally, there was a post planned for today but sometimes you have to throw plans out the window in order to celebrate life. Today, we're going to have another installment of Photo Friday to celebrate the advancement of the Coastie Husband to the next rank! The ocean has us separated at the moment, which is why I'm not in any of the pictures, but I couldn't be prouder of him. He worked really hard to earn this advancement.

Congrats Coastie Husband!

What do you have to celebrate this week? Share with us in the comments!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

San Diego Highlights

We love to travel. If you've followed our Instagram at all, this will be no surprise to you. My father is retired Air Force and my childhood in the military taught me many things about what I wanted for myself. We never moved (seriously - we spent my dad's entire career in Charleston, SC), but I had plenty of friends who had moved a lot. It always amazed me when they couldn't tell me anything neat about where they had lived previously. It amazed me even more when I would meet someone from Charleston who had never been to a plantation or experienced one of the many historical adventures available in the city.

I don't remember exactly when but at some point I made a decision - if I ever move, I'm going to experience the new place in as many ways as I can. I would hate to live somewhere for a few years and leave with few cultural experiences. So, when I fell in love with a Coasite and decided that my future would contain lots of moves and adventures, I decided to stick by that decision. Since arriving in California, we have seen a lot of different places and for the next few weeks, I'm going to be bringing you a few of the highlights from our adventures!  We're going to start with San Diego since that's the first city I experienced in California.

The mighty USCG Cutter Bertholf (Josh's home at sea) is the reason we've been to San Diego a few times. It has docked in San Diego on a couple of occasions and I have met Josh there for a couple of different reasons (including the Tiger Cruise where he proposed). The pier is often my first stop when I visit San Diego for this reason.

The Gaslamp Quarter is a fun part of San Diego that has shopping by day and nightlife by night. We have spent quite a bit of time walking around this part (and other downtown parts) of the city.

The zoo is always towards the top of our list of places to visit. I love zoos and the San Diego zoo is no exception. Although it's not my favorite zoo, it is an enjoyable one to visit. It also has a view unique features for guests.

One of those unique features is the sky rail that you can take across the zoo. It's amazing to see things from a different view - it's like you're a bird looking down on a massive zoo. There is also a double decker bus tour that you can take through the zoo. We loved learning new facts about the animals on the bus tour!

San Diego (like any coastal California town) has lots of beaches that can be enjoyed. There is no shortage of sand or ocean along the West Coast.

I know there are more great places in San Diego that we haven't yet visited (our visits have been rather short). If you've been to San Diego, what's on your list of places to visit?