I was on a walk with my 7 year old daughter yesterday when she looked up at me and said nonchalantly, “momma, I’m really glad daddy didn’t die in the army”.
I was completely caught off guard and sucked my breath in deeply as I said, “me too, sweetie, me too”. Her comment opened the door to a great conversation about Memorial Day and the meaning behind it.
My husband, her dad, served 25 years in the Army before retiring three years ago. He was a Colonel when he retired, having deployed three times and slowly made his way up the ranks until he looked around and realized he was in charge of a lot of lives.
Over the years I learned from him not to sweat the small stuff. When I would get all riled up and upset about something at work he would ask me, “is it life or death?”. You can guess the answer to the question - it was never a life or death situation, and wasn’t worthy of all the energy I was putting into it.
As I later became a person in charge, I would ask my team the same question when they were upset about something. You would be surprised at how much energy we put into things that really aren’t nearly as big of a deal as we make them. When you ask yourself this simple question it quickly puts things into perspective and can easily de-escalate a situation.
As a military spouse I learned a lot of lessons that have shaped me into the person I am today. I learned how to be self-reliant as I moved from state to state, often by myself as he was away on training missions. I learned how to make our new house a home, regardless of what our zipcode was. I learned how to live in the present moment as we had very little, or no, control over our future.
When you are in the military (or married to the military), you don’t get to choose how long you will live someplace or where you will be moving to next. You can’t plan vacations as you never know what your availability will be or where to book the plane ticket from. You learn to let go of the past as you move on to new friends, new jobs, and new homes. You learn not to focus on the future as you don’t have much say in it anyway.
The military taught me how to live in the present moment, and embrace whatever experiences came along on my path. I was taught how to truly appreciate an embrace after a long separation and how to let go of my worry about “what’s next”.
As we approach Memorial Day I reflect back on all the amazing and challenging experiences we had living as a military family. I am grateful that I can hold my daughters hand and tell her me too sweetie, when I know there are many other families who can’t say that same thing this weekend.
My heart goes out to the servicemen and women who gave the ulitimate sacrifice and to their families who are mourning their loss this weekend. I am forever grateful to anyone who has donned the uniform and has faught for our freedom. I am also grateful for the lessons that I’ve learned from those men and women over the years. They have taught me the power of community, how to live in the present, and how to only sweat the stuff that really matters.
This Memorial day, I encourage you to take the time to think of our veterans who are no longer here with us. Take a moment to send some love to their family and friends who are missing them today.
*The Veterans Yoga Project is collecting donations as a part of their annual L
ight A Candle Memorial Day Fundraister. All proceeds will go to support recovery and reslience for veterans, families, and communities. Click here if you would like to donate: https://www.veteransyogaproject.org/
Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all”